What is the truth about Mary Magdalene? Wife of Jesus or simple disciple? Let’s find out in this article.
Did Jesus ever get married?
In the Jewish society in which Jesus and the twelve apostles lived, it was very rare for a man to remain unmarried, since creating a family and having children was one of the first moral imperatives of Jewish law: “Be fruitful, become numerous, populate the earth”. Moreover, since Jesus was a master, and thus a public figure dedicated to the explanation of the Scriptures, the chosen celibacy would have seemed strange to contemporaries. However, there are other examples of great men who remained celibate – John the Baptist, Paul of Tarsus, the prophet Jeremiah – so it is not to be considered a totally extreme position.
Marriage and Celibacy of Jesus
In the canonical gospels and texts of the New Testament, there is never any mention of a bride of Jesus or of her marriage. Instead, we find references to the earthly family of Jesus (Mary and Joseph) and to the people who lived with him during the preaching. The fact that none of the canonical gospels mentions such a strong bond suggests that it did not exist at all.
The theme of marriage is present in several passages of the gospel, starting with the occasion of the first public miracle of Jesus (the wedding at Cana) and during other episodes in which Jesus clarifies ideas about the law of Moses. The theme of celibacy is also addressed by Jesus in the discourse on eunuchs in chapter 19 of the Gospel of Matthew: “For there are eunuchs who were born so from the womb of the mother; there are some who were made eunuchs by men, and there are others who became eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. Who can understand, understand”. Jesus’ celibacy would be part of his mission of Salvation.
Mary Magdalene married to Jesus
Where does the hypothesis come from that Mary Magdalene could be the bride of Jesus?
Some scholars have advanced this hypothesis by relying mainly on one of the apocryphal gospels, texts not accepted as part of the New Testament because they are too recent. The so-called Gospel of Philip, like many apocryphal gospels, is a gnostic text – read our article on the apocryphal gospels to learn more. In this apocryphal gospel, Mary Magdalene appears as the companion of Jesus, loved by him more than all the other disciples. In reality, the term “companion” can be interpreted in another way.
Another text that has brought to light the debate on the marital situation of Jesus is a Coptic text, a translation of a document in Greek, called the Gospel of the Wife of Jesus. The text was announced in 2021 by Karen L. King, a scholar at Harvard University. The document speaks of an alleged wife of Jesus. However, the studies carried out on the text have revealed a very late date compared to the gospels: the Gospel of the wife of Jesus turned out to be fake.
Another series of hypotheses is linked to a medieval legend that tells how, after the crucifixion, Mary of Magdala had fled Palestine to reach France. She took with her the son of Jesus, from whom the Merovingian dynasty would have originated. The study of this legend was taken up in the essay The Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln and was a source of inspiration for the novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
The figure of Mary Magdalene has an important role in the Gospels and in the life of Christ: she is the first to receive the announcement of the Resurrection and is herself a symbol of total love for Jesus. It is reasonable to think that there was a particularly strong relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, but there is no reliable evidence that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus.