A Christian Conundrum

There are a growing number of people who believe that not only was Jesus married, but like many of the prophets before him, had more than one wife. According to this theory, these additional wives, along with other notable women, followed him around as he went about preaching, providing sustenance for him and his twelve apostles.

From the scriptures, we know that there was a contingent of women who, in fact, did follow Jesus around. Some of them were named and some were not. Some relationships were given; others were not.

Is it possible that some of these “were nots” may have been Jesus’ wives? We can’t really know without a new revelation. And I’m wondering, if there were a new revelation, and it revealed that Jesus was, in fact, married and had several wives, how many Christians would believe it? The cry of false prophet would undoubtedly be heard throughout the land.
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The Validity or Invalidity of Tradition

So, was Jesus married or not?

In considering this question, we must remember the answer has absolutely no bearing on our salvation; yet, it is of interest to a great many people.

On the other hand, the great majority of Christianity simply do not want to hear about the subject. For them, it’s an open-and-shut case—Jesus was not married and nothing you can do or say will make any difference to them. And that’s okay; that’s where they’re at.

However, that attitude brings to mind a verse from Proverbs: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (Proverbs 18:13.)
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John 2:1-11

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

One might ask: “What has this to do with Jesus being married or not being married?”

I would answer: “Perhaps nothing; perhaps everything.”
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This is the last look at the Wiki Answers discussion. After this, things should get a little more . . . well, interesting.

Don’t Make Assumptions

I disagree that if it had happened it would have been recorded. The Bible leaves out some 20 years of his life. Doesn’t the Bible teach he experienced everything that any man alive did? I bet sex and marriage was on that list. He probably got into fights and did a lot of other things we don’t know about.

I would have to agree with most of this statement, taking issue only with the last sentence.
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More from the Wiki Answers discussion.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Just trust what the bible [sic] said and if it is not recorded, then just don’t make your own assumption base [sic] on other facts.

In other words, if the Bible doesn’t say Jesus was married, we can’t assume one way or another that he was or wasn’t married. I would tend to agree with that . . . to a point.

Just because a the Bible doesn’t mention that Ezekiel saw an unidentified flying object doesn’t mean he didn’t see one. Don’t believe me? Check out Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10. Perhaps I’ll give my take on these verses one day.
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Now, we’ll continue looking at those viewpoints from the Wiki Answers discussion that at least open the door to Jesus being married. This is the second part of a single quote from Wike Answers.

Jesus’ support group

A group of women were part of a ‘support team’ who supplied material needs to the disciples and Jesus when they were able. Many incidental details are recorded in Jesus’ life.

As to this, we read in Luke 8:2-3 the following:

And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. (emphasis mine.)

From BibleHistory.com we read:

In light of what we know about Jewish life in the first century A.D. Jesus’ teaching must have seemed very radical. He was not one to show partiality. In fact many women followed Jesus… including prostitutes. There is mention of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, the “other Mary”, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, and of course Mary and Martha. ( Women in Ancient Israel )

I am not sure where the idea came from that prostitutes followed Jesus around, but it didn’t come from the Bible.

And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him
Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. (Matthew 27:55-56.)

Here’s another interesting tidbit from Bible-History.com ( http://www.bible-history.com/court-of-women/women.html ):

Women were only allowed to receive very little education on religion and the main religious instruction in the home was given by the man and not the woman. They could not be disciples of any great rabbi, they certainly could not travel with any rabbi.

Yet, here we have a number of women traveling with and caring for Jesus and his apostles. How does one explain that?

People’s New Testament says this about Luke 8:2:

And certain women. That these women should attend the footsteps of Christ was opposed to the custom of Palestine. The admixture of the sexes was not common. The rabbis held that the law should not be taught to women.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary said this:

certain women . healed, &c.-on [sic] whom He had the double claim of having brought healing to their bodies and new life to their souls. Drawn to Him by an attraction more than magnetic, they accompany Him on this tour as His almoners-ministering unto Him of their substance.

Dictionary.com explains almoner as “a person whose function or duty is the distribution of alms on behalf of an institution, a royal personage, a monastery, etc.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible had an interesting thing to say about these women:

which ministered unto him of their substance; four ancient copies of Beza’s, and five of Stephens’s, and the Syriac version read, “which ministered unto them”; that is, to Christ, and his disciples, as the Persic version expresses it. This shows the gratitude of these women, who having received favours from Christ, both for their souls and bodies, make returns to him out of their worldly substance, in a way of thankfulness; and also the low estate of Christ, and his disciples, who stood in need of such ministrations.

So, while there were many women following Jesus wherever he went, including to hill of the cross, some appeared to be married, but of others we are not told their marital status. Could one or more of these women be married to Christ?

And, if that’s not enough to get your blood flowing and boiling, stay tuned.

Now, we’ll continue looking at those viewpoints from the Wiki Answers discussion ( http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Did_Jesus_get_married ) that at least in my view open the door to Jesus being married.

The anointing

Many times all kinds of allegations and innuendo are suggested to smear Jesus’ name but never any facts. On one occasion a woman anointed His feet and wiped them with her hair — in public.

Skipping the “smear Jesus’ name” reference, as the author’s intent is unclear, what we have here is a mixing together of two separate incidences into one event. Besides this anointing of Jesus’ feet with ointment, we have on another occasion, presumably another woman anointing his head with the same type of ointment. However, the circumstances surrounding each incident clearly shows they are two separate events.

Let’s take a look at these two occasions. The first was taken from Mark 14:3-8 and the second from John 12:1-8.

Mark 14:3-8.

And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

John 12:1-8.

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Then said Jesus, Let her alone; against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
For the poor always ye have with you/; but me ye have not always.

Following are the important points of comparison between the two events:

  1. The first event was likely the public event the commenter was referring to, being in the home of Simon, the former leper. The second was likely more private, being in the home of Mary and Martha, with Martha serving. It is highly doubtful Martha would be serving in the home of Simon. It is clear Mary and Martha made the supper for Jesus.
  2. Interestingly, both events took place in Bethany.
  3. The woman of the first instance was not named, while Mary is specifically named as the one who anointed Jesus.
  4. The unnamed woman poured ointment on Jesus’ head; Mary poured it on hia feet.
  5. Both used spikenard, a very expensive ointment.
  6. Both women kept the ointment in an alabaster box, admittedly, a very small point.
  7. Even more interestingly, the conversation that followed the anointing in both instances was virtually the same.

While such an act doesn’t prove one way or another that Jesus was married to either or both women (some people believe Jesus was married to more than one woman, as it was often the case in Biblical times and is evident even today in the Middle East), it certainly points to a more than casual relationship between Jesus and the two woman.

I’m guessing the woman of the first instance wasn’t just wandering around Bethany with a box full of expensive ointment looking for someone to anoint. She had to know where Jesus was to begin with. And we also know that Mary, the sister of Martha, was more than just a casual acquaintance.

As a sort of side trip, I decided to look up spikenard on the Internet and the first place I came across was encyclopedia.com, which touts itself as the “Reference information you can trust” with “more than 100 trusted sources, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses with facts, definitions, biographies, synonyms, pronunciation keys, word origins, and abbreviations.”

So we can trust them, right? They said so, anyway. Here’s what it said:

spikenard (spīk´närd), name for several plants. The biblical spikenard, or nard, was a costly aromatic ointment, preserved in alabaster boxes, whose chief ingredient is believed to have been derived from Nardostachys grandiflora (or N. jatamansi), a plant of the family Valerianaceae (valerian family). Such was the precious box of ointment that Mary Magdalen broke over Jesus’ feet. (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.) ( http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/spikenard.aspx )

Well, there you have it. Now, I’m not sure which of these “more than 100 trusted sources” came up with the idea that the woman in the second instance was Mary Magdalen, but the idea didn’t come from the Bible.

The Biblical reference in Mark didn’t identify the woman as being Mary Magdalen. Nevertheless, some people assumed this to be Mary Magdalen because, obviously, she held a very special place in Jesus’ heart, as did Mary and Martha.

While we didn’t quote it, the reference in Matthew 26:6-13 is essentially the same as that in Mark, except the “some” in Mark was identified as “his disciples” as being the ones who were doing the complaining.

Referring to the unknown woman of Mark and Matthew, Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible has this to say:

“Many suppose that this woman had been a notorious public prostitute; but this is taking the subject by the very worst handle. My own opinion is, that she had been a mere heathen who dwelt in this city, (probably Capernaum), who, through the ministry of Christ, had been before this converted to God, and came now to give this public testimony of her gratitude to her gracious deliverer from the darkness and guilt of sin. I am inclined to think that the original word, ἁμαρτωλος, is used for heathen or Gentile in several places of the sacred writings.”

While this may be sao, I think this public anointing, as well as the private one, were expressing something more than gratitude. But then, I’m admittedly prejudiced. One just didn’t go around anointing others just because they were grateful, I don’t think.

As to the unknown woman’s identity, Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible doesn’t believe she was Mary Magdalen, nor Mary of Bethany. Wesley’s Notes concurs with the latter.

Who was this woman? We’ll never know without revelation from on high.

One cannot assume anything regarding this woman’s identity. The only thing we know for sure is that she felt a very close bond to Jesus.

Did that bond involve marriage? Probably not, but you never know. And who’s to really say, after all? We simply were not there.

As before mentioned, none of this proves Jesus was married to either of these two women. Yet, it does show there was a certain intimacy between those involved in the anointings.