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Mary Magdalene: Jesus' Wife? The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene, Jesus Marriage, and ChildrenThis is part of a whole series of articles. Click here to go to the beginning of the series.

II. Mary Magdalene and the Claim Jesus Was Married

A. Theories of the Da Vinci Code

Teabing states that "Christ Himself made that claim" that Mary Magdalene was the Holy Grail. Da Vinci pictures this in The Last Supper. (pp. 242,243)

Teabing reveals: "the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father. My dear, Mary Magdalene was the Holy Vessel [Holy Grail]. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. She was the womb that bore the lineage ..." (p. 249)

Again: "The Church, in order to defend itself against the Magdalene's power, perpetuated her image as a whore and buried evidence of Christ's marriage to her, thereby defusing any potential claims that Christ had a surviving bloodline and was a mortal prophet." (p. 254)

And: "The quest for the Holy Grail is literally the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene. A journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one, the lost sacred feminine." (p. 257)

They claim that Mary, accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, fled to France, where she gave birth to Jesus' daughter Sarah. Jesus' descendants later intermarried with French royal blood and created the bloodline of the Merovengian kings of France. That lineage persists to today. (pp. 255-257)

We will later consider the only real attempt to give evidence for these views, which is found in Gnosticism and is entirely speculation.

Such speculation pleases pagans, who want to believe in goddesses. One might think feminists would dislike it, since they hate marriage; but instead, they view men who refuse to marry women as "woman-haters." They want women to spurn men, not the other way around! Actually, they are thrilled by the idea of Mary's marriage to Jesus, because it gives them a justification for women church leaders.

B. Bible Teaching

The Da Vinci Code significantly misrepresents Mary Magdalene.

When people don't respect the Bible, they rarely study it carefully. As a result, almost invariably they misunderstand and misuse it. This is the case with Brown's view of Mary Magdalene.

The Bible lists at least seven different Marys.

1) Mary, Jesus' mother (and later, the wife of Joseph -Luke 1:30,31; etc.)

2) Mary, the mother of James (not the Lord's brother) and Joseph (Matthew 27:56)

3) Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:39; John 11:1; 12:3)

4) Mary, mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12)

5) Mary, wife of Clopas or Cleophas (John 19:25)

6) Mary, no further identification (Romans 16:6)

7) Mary of Magdala, a city in southwest Galilee.

This does not include the women named Miriam, which is just another form of the name Mary.

The Bible presents the following facts about Mary Magdalene:

* Jesus cast out seven demons from her. She and other women sometimes traveled with Jesus and His disciples - Luke 8:1-3

* She contributed financially to support Jesus and His apostles - Luke 8:1-3

* She ministered to Jesus - Matthew 27:55

* She witnessed Jesus' crucifixion - Matthew 27:55,56; Mark 15:40,41; John 19:25

* She saw Jesus' burial - Matthew 27:61

* She came to anoint Jesus' body and saw the empty tomb - Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1-10; John 20:1

* She was the first to see Jesus after His resurrection - Mark 16:9

* She worshiped Jesus after His resurrection - Matthew 28:9

* She reported Jesus' resurrection to the apostles - Mark 16:10; Luke 24:10; John 20:18

Brown mistakenly identifies Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman in Luke 7.

Luke 7:36-50 records an event in which a woman washed Jesus' feet with her tears and then anointed them with ointment. Brown confuses Mary Magdalene with this sinful woman. (Others mistakenly assume this means she was a prostitute.) But none of this is stated or implied in the Scripture.

After the event in 7:36-50, 8:1 says "Now it came to pass afterward, that He went through every city and village preaching." This implies a clear change in topic. It refers to a different time ("afterward") and a different place from chap. 7 ("He went through every city and village").

Then Luke 8:2,3 names Mary Magdalene along with other women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, along with "many others." Note that Mary is not named till after the subject has completely changed from chap. 7. And why pick Mary out of this list of "many" women and assume she is the one mentioned in chap. 7? Why not assume the sinful woman was one of the other women? Better yet, why not admit the truth that this is an entirely different story and there is no evidence whatever that it even involves the woman of chap. 7?

Brown mistakenly identifies Mary Magdalene with Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, once anointed Jesus with perfume (John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9). Brown assumes this was the same event as the anointing by the sinful woman in Luke 7. And since he assumes that sinful woman was Mary Magdalene, he then concludes she must also be Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

But we have already proved there is no connection whatever between Mary Magdalene and the sinful woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7. So there is no reason to connect Mary Magdalene to the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

Further, the anointing of Jesus by Mary is a different event from the anointing in Luke 7. Mary anointed Jesus shortly before His death (John 12:1), whereas the anointing in Luke 7 is recorded much earlier in Jesus' ministry. Mary anointed Jesus in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem (John 12:1), but the context of Luke 7 relates entirely to events in Galilee (7:1,11). In John 12, Mary was criticized for wasting valuable perfume; in Luke 7, Jesus is criticized for allowing a sinful woman to touch Him.

So there is no connection between to the sinful woman in Luke 7 and Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. And there is no connection between Mary Magdalene and either of these women.

Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, lived in Bethany (John 11:1). Mary Magadalene is so named because she was from Magdala. So, the two Marys lived in different cities.

Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus is mentioned in three stories in Scripture. Always, without fail, she is identified by her connection to Martha and Lazarus. She is never mentioned in connection with Magdala. See Luke 10:38-42; John 11; 12:1-8.

But every time Mary Magdalene is mentioned in Scripture, she is described as Mary Magdalene (or similar terms), apparently identifying her with her hometown. She is never mentioned in connection with Martha or Lazarus. Matthew 27:56,61; 28:1; Mark 15:40,47; 16:1,9; Luke 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1,11-18.

Mary Magdalene is consistently identified in entirely different ways from Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. All the evidence indicates that these are two entirely different women. There is no evidence whatever that they are the same, as Brown mistakenly assumes.

Brown mistakenly thinks that Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus in a sexual rite.

The reason Brown connects Mary Magdalene to these other women is to claim that she anointed Jesus. He then assumes that this anointing involved the sexual rite called Hieros Gamos, which is supposed to indicate that Mary was married to Jesus.

But Brown elsewhere claims that Hieros Gamos was a spiritual act of worship that did not necessarily involve marriage (see previous notes), so this proves nothing about Jesus being married to Mary. Further, if the anointing was Hieros Gamos as described in Brown's book, then Jesus would have participated in a sexual display in the presence of a roomful of people. And Jesus defended the woman for her part. This would have involved Jesus in an open display of sexual immorality! What does all this say about the sinless Son of God?

In fact, there was no sexual significance in these anointings. The women anointed Jesus' feet and head with oil (Luke 7:37,38; John 12:3; Mark 14:3). They washed His feet. Washing of feet was a common act of hospitality in Bible times (Genesis 18:4; 1 Timothy 5:10), and anointing was a common honor given to kings, prophets, and priests. There is absolutely no sexual significance to any of this.

Luke 7:44-46 - Jesus pointed out that the Pharisee criticized the woman, but he himself had not washed Jesus' feet or anointed His head. Had he done so, would that have been a sexual act implying marriage? Obviously, there was nothing sexual about any of this.

John 12:7 - Jesus said that Mary's anointing prepared Him for burial, not for marriage or anything of sexual significance.

And we have seen that Mary Magdalene is a different woman from those who anointed Jesus. So there is no evidence Mary Magdalene ever anointed Jesus, anyway.

Brown has completely missed the point of these anointings and completely misunderstood who was involved. None of it had anything to do with Mary Magdalene, and none of it had any significance regarding marriage or anything sexual. Brown has demonstrated his complete misunderstanding of Scripture. If he so completely misuses Scripture, why should we trust his use of other evidence he cites?

Jesus was not married to Mary or to anyone else.

Were Jewish males required to marry?

Teabing argues that, if Jesus was not married, the gospel writers should have told us so, since Jewish men almost always married (p. 245). But this argument is based, not on evidence, but on lack of evidence: on the fact that the Bible writers do not say Jesus was unmarried. And basing his conclusions on Scripture seems quite strange for Brown to do, since His characters repeatedly deny what Bible writers say!

Bock cites evidence that the men of the Jewish Essenes and of the Qumran community (where the Dead Sea scrolls were found) generally remained unmarried (pp. 38,39,48,51). So, it simply is not true that all Jewish men were expected to marry.

Jeremiah 16:1,2 - God commanded Jeremiah not to marry. So, it was not unknown for Jewish men to remain unmarried. Especially, some did it as part of their work as special servants of God.

Matthew 19:10-12 - Discussing divorce, Jesus affirmed that some men are eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. It simply is not true that all Jewish males must marry, at least not as applied to Jesus and His disciples. He Himself made clear that not all His disciples must marry, and in fact some might choose not to when they faced special spiritual responsibilities.

1 Corinthians 7 - Paul clearly states that he was not married, and that marriage was not required, and that being unmarried could have spiritual advantages. In any case, being unmarried was not unknown among followers of Christ, especially among those who were being persecuted. (See further notes on 1 Corinthians 7 below.)

There is not a shred of Bible evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.

Note the list of Marys in the New Testament. Most are identified by their relationship to men - husband, son, father, etc. This is typical of women in the Bible. Even today, married women are identified by wearing their husband's name. Mary Magdalene, however is never mentioned in connection with Jesus or any other man. This implies that she was not married, surely not to Jesus.

Luke 7:39 - We have shown that the woman who anointed Jesus was not Mary Magdalene, but Brown claims it was Mary and implies that what happened was a type of marriage ritual. But note that the host thought that, if Jesus was a prophet, he should have known that this was a sinful woman and should not have let her touch him. The implication was that the host thought Jesus did not know what kind of woman she is and therefore might not be a prophet. But if this was a marriage rite, surely he would have expected Jesus to know what kind of woman she was, regardless of whether or not He was a prophet.

Further, the host objected to the fact that Jesus allowed the woman to touch Him. But if this was a marriage ritual, he would have objected to the fact Jesus married such a woman, not just to the fact she touched him. So, the host raised several objections to the event, none of which had anything to do with marriage. The nature of the objections proves that Jesus and this woman were not married.

Luke 8:1-3 - Whenever Mary Magdalene is mentioned, she is almost never alone with Jesus, but always part of a group of women. Note that there were many women with Jesus. Why single Mary out from the other women in the group and assume some kind of special relationship existed between Jesus and Mary? Why not assume He was married to another one of them or to none of them? Furthermore, the 12 apostles also traveled with Jesus and these women. Why not assume Mary was the wife of one of the apostles?

John 20:11-18 - This is the only time Jesus and Mary are ever described in the New Testament as being alone together. The discussion concerns Jesus' resurrection, and results in Mary worshiping Jesus. The only time she touches Him is when she takes hold of His feet (Matthew 28:9, and He tells her to stop even that! The event is entirely spiritual. There is nothing in the event implying romance or marriage.

The idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene is simply a figment of wishful thinking.

The evidence that Jesus was not married at all.

John 19:26,27 - As Jesus died, He made arrangements for the care of His mother. If He had been married, should He not have been much more concerned about arranging for the care of His wife after He died? Why would the writers tell about His care for His mother but not for His wife? The only reasonable answer is that He had no wife.

1 Corinthians 7:1,8,32-34,38 - Paul shows, not only that he was not married, but that being unmarried was a perfectly acceptable choice both for men and women, at least among Jesus' followers. In fact, being unmarried had spiritual advantages for Christians in times of "distress" (opposition and persecution - v26). But since Jesus was opposed and persecuted throughout His public ministry, this principle would apply to Him more so than to anyone else.

Contrary to Brown's false assumption, Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom. He knew from the outset of His ministry that He would travel continually, face continual opposition, hardship, and persecution, and then be rejected and crucified. What reasonable man would marry and conceive children, knowing this would be the case? Imagine the care and hardship His wife and children would face! In light of the principle of 1 Corinthians 7, it is not only reasonable but virtually certain that Jesus never intended to marry.

1 Corinthians 9:5 - In order to prove that he had a right to marry, Paul cites a number of leading Christians who did marry, including the apostles and Jesus' brothers. But Jesus is not listed. Why not? If Jesus had married, that would be the ultimate proof of Paul's point. He could point to the Lord Himself as the primary proof. Surely Paul would never have omitted such an argument. The omission can be explained only on the grounds that he knew Jesus was not married!

2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2,9 - Many passages compare the church to Jesus' bride. This is a spiritual relationship, yet if Jesus had been married physically, the symbol would be seriously marred. Jesus would be married to one woman physically, but married to someone else spiritually. The result might imply unfaithfulness. [Revelation 19:7; Ephesians 5:22-31]

If Jesus married and had children, the Bible writers must have told us so.

The fact is that, in all the evidence we have regarding Jesus' adult life, no New Testament passage states or even remotely implies that Jesus was married or that he had a romantic attraction to any woman. Why not? If it was true, it would surely be of major significance!

Several times the accounts mention his mother, his earthly father, his brothers, and his sisters. Why do they never mention His wife? If He had married, this would have been of as great or greater significance than any of these other relationships. So why did they never mention it?

We will see that Jesus possessed Deity. If He had married, that would raise a major issue: What would be the nature of His children? In fact, the children of Jesus and Mary are a major issue in Brown's book: Where are they? Who are they? How can we find them, so we can honor them? But an even greater issue would be their nature. Would they be Divine or human or both? Should they be worshiped? The question of their nature would be such a confusing issue that, of itself, it would be grounds enough for Jesus to refuse to marry and have children.

The major point of the Bible is that Jesus is the unique person in history: the only-begotten Son of God (John 3:16), God in the flesh (John 1:1-3,14). If He had children, would they have been like Him? And if so, how could He be the unique focus of all history? Such questions would raise incredible issues. This of itself is reason enough for Him to not marry.

But if in fact, He had married and fathered children, the Bible would absolutely have to teach us about their nature and how to treat them. Without such information, disputes and conflicts of all kinds would unavoidably follow.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Bible provides us to all good works. It is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25) that reveals all truth (John 16:13) and all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Paul preached the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20,27).

Such a complete guide must necessarily tell us how to relate to Jesus' wife and children, if He had them. The only possible explanation for the Bibles' silence about this issue is that such children simply never existed. Otherwise, the Bible could not possibly be a complete revelation of all truth. [See also Matt. 28:20; Col. 4:12; Jude 3; Hebrews. 13:20,31; John 20:30,31; 1 John 1:1-4; 2:1-6.]

1 Timothy 1:3,4; Titus 3:9 - Old Testament genealogies were important for several reasons. But the gospel is for people of all nations, regardless of ancestry (Galatians 3:28; Mark 16:15), so genealogies no longer matter. We should avoid giving heed to them or becoming involved in disputes over them, because such things are useless. Since Jesus' died and the gospel was introduced, no genealogy of anyone born since then has any spiritual significance.

But Brown's whole book strives to prove that Jesus had descendants and then to find them. We are even told that Jesus married Mary Magdalene so that His heirs would have a more powerful claim to the throne of Israel. This would make the genealogy of Jesus' descendants a matter of great concern. The result would involve us in giving great heed to genealogies and becoming involved in many disputes over them: the every opposite of what the New Testament says.

In truth, the evidence for Jesus' alleged marriage rests entirely on Gnostic texts, which we will examine later. But in fact, they are completely unreliable; and even so, none of them say or even serious imply Jesus and Mary were married.

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