…first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a massive conspiracy to cover up the truth which has been kept suppressed for thousands of years. This is what many skeptics think at least. Popularized by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and the pseudo-documentary Bloodline, these works were inspired by Laurence Gardner’s The Magdalene Legacy, Charles Pellegrino and Simcha Jacobovici’s The Jesus Family Tomb, and Margaret Starbird’s The Woman With the Alabaster Jar and Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile. According to these sources there is plenty of historical evidence indicating that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, but early church leaders suppressed the truth about the marriage. So did Jesus marry Mary Magdalene?
First, it is important to know who Mary Magdalene is. We all know who Jesus is, but Mary Magdalene seems to be this woman of mystery that is only referenced a handful of times in the NT. Luke 8:2 speaks of Jesus casting seven demons out of her, followed by her witness to the crucifixion and empty tomb as recorded in Matthew 27:56 and Luke 24:10. Tradition holds that she was also the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11, but the Bible does identify this woman, so it would be an assumption to identify her as Mary Magdalene. This tradition of believing John 8 pertains to Mary Magdalene was popularized by Bishop Gregory of the Roman Church in the 6th century.
As you can see, the Bible talks very little about Mary Magdalene, so the skeptics believe there is a cover up of her true relationship with Christ. Even though there are dozens of other biblical characters that have small appearances in the NT as well, Mary Magdalene’s situation MUST be a cover up. Zacchaeus the tax collector has a small role in the NT, maybe there is a conspiracy to conceal his true relationship with Jesus as well [insert sarcasm font]. But let’s play devil’s advocate and say Jesus really did have a relationship with Mary Magdalene. Why would this be covered up? Well according to skeptics this would mean Mary would be next in line for leader of the church after Jesus died. So power hungry church leaders, denied her place in the story. They also feared that Jesus being married would make it difficult for them to teach that sex is a sin, and also prevent them from keeping women in their place as second class citizens. Quite the accusations! I wonder what evidence these skeptics are using to make such audacious claims?
Why, apparently the evidence has been right in front of your face the entire time!!! In the Bible that is… Where you ask? Let’s take a look see:
v According to Laurence Gardner the wedding dinner mentioned in John 2 was actually Jesus and Mary’s wedding. The scripture doesn’t say that…but… ya know, why would Jesus talk about a wedding unless it was his own? Riggggght.
v Gardneralso points out that Magdalene comes from the word migdal which means “powerful tower” in Hebrew. Therefore, she must be from a royal family, and by marrying the messiah they would be creating a dynasty! That’s a stretch…
v Another skeptic points out that Jewish tradition holds that all males must marry. Jesus would have had to marry to fulfill His duties as a Jewish man. If Jesus remained unmarried, how come the Pharisees did not question His single status? How come the disciples did not question His single status? Obviously because He was married, duh!
v Margaret Starbird also maintains that Jesus would have had to have married for the same reasons, but also would have had to have kids to maintain the Davidic lineage from which the Messiah was supposed to have come from.
v Dan Brown points out that the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip reveals their relationship. It is written in the Gospel of Mary that Jesus “loved [Mary] more than any other woman.” The Gospel of Philip says, “There were three who had been walking with the Lord in every time: Mary his mother, his sister, and Magdalene- the one they call his companion… The Messiah loved [Mary Magdalene] more than all the disciples, and he was kissing her.” Sounds convincing… if the Gospel of Mary and Philip were actually trustworthy texts. But more on that later.
v Many medieval paintings and other artworks depict Jesus and Mary Magdalene in poses and situations that suggest they were in a relationship or possibly even marriage. How scandalous!
v Skeptic Simcha Jacobovici even teamed up with James Cameron to reveal that a dig site nearJerusalemturned up the bones of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene and their child! So not only was Jesus a father, but he also didn’t resurrect from the dead. Uh-oh… thanks a lot James Cameron. I’ll never watch Titanic again!!!
What’s a Christian to think? Jesus married Mary Magdalene, had a child, and never resurrected from the dead! Has Christianity as we know it been turned upside down?
Do You Know Anyone Named Mary or Jesus?
Raise your hand if you have ever met someone named Jesus, or met someone named Mary. Ironically Jesus Christ wasn’t the only one named Jesus, and Mary Magdalene isn’t the only person named Mary in the history of mankind. More specifically, let’s look at popular names from the first century. Jesus was the 6th most popular name amongst Palestinian Jews, making up about 3.8% of the male Jewish population. While Mary comes in first, being the most popular female name amongst Palestinian Jews, compromising a strong 21.3% of the female population.
So when some construction workers discover a tomb near Jerusalemfull of ossuaries with the names Mariamme, Judas, Matthew, Joseh, Mary and Jesus, do you think WOW, THE TOMB OF JESUS CHRIST!!! Well if you know how popular the names Mary and Jesus were you wouldn’t get that excited at all. But when you’re a creative movie producer named James Cameron with no formal education on such things, or a secular scholar of Jewish decent named Simcha Jacobovici who is better versed in Marxism than rabbinics, such things don’t cross your mind.
Even more interesting is that not too far from this tomb, another tomb was found by the name of Dominus Flevit. Inside this tomb ossuaries were found with the names Joseph, Judas, Mary, John, Lazarus, Martha, Matthew, Salome, Simon, and (drum roll please) JESUS! One can only imagine how many hundreds of undiscovered ossuaries and graves exist out aroundJerusalem bearing the names Jesus and Mary.
Where’s the proof of the marriage?
Even if Jesus wasn’t buried with Mary, they could have been married. According to Baigent, the banquet in John 2:2 is for Jesus’ wedding hence why he was being “called” and had responsibility over the wine. However, the word used in the original Greek for “called” is the word kaleo which means to invite, bid, or call. It’s also used in Matthew 22:2-3 when Jesus speaks of a king that arranges a wedding for his son, asking the servants to go and call the guests to the wedding. Same happens in Matthew 22:8-9, Luke 14:8, and Luke 14:12-24. It’s clear that it is not Jesus being called to the wedding as a groom, but instead the guests of the wedding are being called to show up.
What about the claim that first-century Jewish men had to be married and have children? This claim makes it sound like that was the only option for Jewish men. But it was also popular and admired for men to devote themselves to celibacy for the sake of a divine task or purpose. For example the Jewish sect known as the “Essenes” commonly remained unmarried their entire lives which was revered by kings and nobility. So yes, most Jewish men married, but many did not for devotional purposes (Matthew 19:12).
Now onto the Gospel of Mary. Before you can take anything in the Gospel of Mary seriously you have to first recognize that the original account of Mary was written long after the original NT gospels were written. The Gospel of Mary also never specifically identifies the “Mary” it is referring to. Is it Jesus’ mother? Is it Mary Magdalene? Or is it one of the thousands of other Marys that lived in the first century? And even if it did claim to be authored by Mary Magdalene, since the original was written in the mid to late second century, Mary Magdalene would have already have been deceased and could not have possibly written it. Lastly even if Jesus did love Mary more than the other disciples that doesn’t mean there was sexual activity involved. So the Gospel of Mary hardly qualifies as sufficient evidence.
Then there is the Gospel of Philip, which was written even later than the Gospel of Mary, the late-second century at the latest, but most likely the third century. Sure, the Gospel of Philip says Jesus kissed Mary, but there is a hole in the text (one of many holes) right after this statement. In other words, we don’t know where Jesus kissed Mary. And considering that kissing was a very common form of greeting in first centuryJudea as it is in many parts of the world still today, it shouldn’t be a shocker that Jesus kissed Mary. Kissing as a form of greeting can also be read in Acts 20:37, Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14. Let’s think about it, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, does that mean Judas and Jesus were having a love affair? Hardly. Kissing was a common greeting among close friends, not certified evidence of a love affair.
The Gospel of Philip does refer to Mary as Jesus’ companion though, from the Coptic version of the Greek word koinonos, which skeptics claim translates to “consort” or “spouse.” But this is an inaccurate translation of koinonos, which is accurately defined as “a fellow participant with a shared goal.” The word appears 10 times in the New Testament and not once does it imply any sexual relationship. Read Luke 5:10, 2 Corinthians 1:7, 8:23, 1 Peter 5:1, Matthew 23:30, 1 Corinthians 10:18, Hebrews 10:33, or 2 Peter 1:4, and ask yourself if there is anything sexual in nature about those relationships. Even in the gospel of Philip the usage of koinonos doesn’t specify anything sexual.
Lastly, all the paintings and other artworks of Jesus in suggestive poses with Mary are not earth shattering. All the artworks were created over one-thousand years after the lifetime of Jesus. Historical paintings are not photographs of history. They’re imaginative reconstructions. Many artists painted Jesus in medieval clothing, not because Jesus wore medieval clothing during his ministry but simply because artists did not know how people dressed in the first century. In Reader’s Digest’s Atlas of the Bible, much of the artwork depicting the life of Jesus in the hundreds of years after his death were examined, to which it was concluded; “It was common for artists to incorporate various non-biblical details in their portrayals of the gospel stories.” Personally myself, I’d take a collection of eyewitness accounts recorded less than 100 years after Jesus’ death over paintings and other artworks created over a thousand years after Jesus’ death.
Clearly, this conspiracy has no solid legs to stand on. When you already have a conclusion in your mind, you can find just about anything to serve as evidence when you spin it and misinterpret it. Which is exactly what is found in this conspiracy. As theologian Timothy Paul Jones states, “The marriage of Jesus didn’t become part of the church’s story of Jesus for a single reason: no reliable proof exists for such a marriage.”
The Origin of the Mary Magdalene Conspiracy
So how did this conspiracy first come about in the first place? A Frenchman named Pierre Plantard aspired to be the King of France. To do so he tried to provide documentation linking a royal blood line between Jesus and Mary Magdalene to the Kings of France and then ultimately to himself. The documentation was based off nonsensical reinterpretation of a 19th century priest named Beranger Sauniere who lived in a tiny village in France called Rennes le Chateau. Sauniere supposedly used secret evidence of Jesus to blackmail the Roman Catholic Church. This is the foundation for the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Messianic Lineage. Problem was, Plantard’s evidence was forged. In 1993, Plantard admitted under oath that his claims were completely false.
So, with the evidence not holding up, and the origin of the conspiracy itself based on fraud, I believe it is safe to say at this time that Jesus did not marry Mary Magdalene.
 The Bible does not say sex is a sin, but that sexual immorality is a sin.
 Laurence Gardner, The Magdalene Legacy, (Thorsons Element 2005) Pg 152.
 Laurence Gardner, The Magdalene Legacy, (New York, NY: Thorsons Element 2005) Pg 9-13.
 Michael Baiget, The Jesus Papers (New York,NY: Harper Collins 2006) Pg 107
 Margaret Starbird, Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile (Rochester,VT: Bear 2005) Pg. 89
 Gospel of Mary 5:5
 Gospel of Philip 59:6-11
 Judas was also a popular comprising of 6.3% of the male population. Joseph 8.3%, Lazarus 6.3% and John 4.7%.
 T. Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity, part 1 (Tubingen,Germany: Mohr, 2002).
 Pellegrino and Jacobovici, The Jesus Family Tomb, Pg 136
 Michael Baiget, The Jesus Papers (New York, NY: Harper Collins 2006) xiii
 Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies of the Cross (Lake Mary,FL: Frontline 2008) Pg. 147.
 Philio of Alexandria, Hypothetica, vol IX, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1941) 8:11.
 J. Y. Leloup, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Rochester,VT: Inner Traditions, 2002) Pg. 5-6.
 “Gospel of Philip” in Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, ed.E. Ferguson (New York, NY: Garland, 1990) Pg. 74
 Starbird, Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile, Pg. 74. Gardner The Magdalene Legacy Pg. 129-130. Brown, The Da Vinci Code Pg. 246.
 Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies of the Cross (Lake Mary,FL: Frontline 2008) Pg. 148
 Reader’s Digest, Atlas of the Bible, An Illustrated Guide to the Holy Land (Pleasantville, NY: The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1981)
 Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies of the Cross (Lake Mary,FL: Frontline 2008) Pg. 151
 Timothy Paul Jones, Conspiracies of the Cross (Lake Mary,FL: Frontline 2008) Pg 149