Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Da Vinci Code XV
12/16/2005 - James WhiteAs Brown develops his fanciful theory that Jesus was married (calling it a historical fact---but we have already learned that Brown calls "fact" what history calls "fiction" with shocking regularity) he throws out what is actually a plausible argument: singleness for Jewish males would be unusual at best, and, if Jesus had been single, "at least one of the Bible's gospels would have mentioned it and offered some explanation for His unnatural state of bachelorhood" (245). Of course, one immediately has to chuckle just a little bit: the only thing that makes this statement plausible is that the biblical gospels reflect something akin to the original context of Jesus' life and times---but isn't that the very thing Brown has claimed the Gospels do not do? I mean, the canonical gospels are nothing but made up stories from the fourth century, specifically crafted by Constantine for political purposes, right? A thousand other gospels gathered up and burned, right? So why, oh why, would Constantine forget a little detail like this? If the whole idea is that Jesus was married, but Constantine and now the evil Roman Church wants to bury that fact and make up a fake divine Jesus, why not provide this simple cover story in one of these made-up gospels being foisted upon the people? Brown's entire theory here crashes on the rocks of self-consistency.
Now it is quite true that marriage was the norm in Jewish society, but it was not unknown for someone to be unmarried when involved in special religious service, as Jesus was, especially if this involved itinerancy. But the real argument here should not be, "the gospels would explain his singleness," since, of course, they did: He came to serve and give His life a ransom for many, not to be served or serve in the covenant of marriage. The real argument would be, "If Jesus was married, the gospels would give indication of this fact," and, of course, they do not. You would think Brown, to be consistent, would simply assert that Constantine removed all references to Jesus' marriage from the gospels---in fact, why include any references to Mary Magdalene at all if Constantine is trying to bury her "real" role? None of this makes the slightest sense.
At this point Brown moves back to promoting the second-century gnostic gospels, identifying them as the "earlist Christian records." He opines that, "Troublingly, they do not match up with the gospels in the Bible." No kidding, but the fact is they do not because they were specifically written to promote a different religion! Ironically, it is the gnostic gospels that clearly know of the existence of the canonical gospels, borrow from them, and seek to insert extraneous material to support their own theological teachings, the very thing Brown is accusing the canonical gospels of doing! The difference, of course, being that he has no historical foundation and makes things up on the fly, and we have tons of historical material and a completely different view of truth. Be that as it may, Mary Magdalene, simply because of the paucity of information about her in the truly historical gospels, was a favorite topic for gnostic speculation in the next century. She is mainly seen in the Scriptures at the end of Jesus' ministry, though Luke, always the one to highlight the important role women had in the Lord's ministry, mentions her earlier in the narrative as one healed by the Lord who then ministered to the needs of the disciples in their work. There is nothing in the canonical gospels to suggest a marriage: unless one reads into Jesus' greeting of Mary at the tomb something that isn't there (which you could do with Mary or Martha in John 11, for example, or in other places, if you are only seeking to sell books and make things up as you go), there is simply no basis for the entire theory. Which is why Brown had to start out by ravaging the historical accuracy of the New Testament scriptures.
Brown then moves to the "Gospel of Mary Magdalene," again, another second-century gnostic gospel, far removed from the actual events of Christ's life, known only fragmentarily (in contrast to the true canonical gospels). The work clearly has nothing to do with Mary Magdalene the historical person noted in the gospels, but is instead the fanciful religious fantasy of a gnostic community from, at best, the second century. Brown adds, "Sophie had not known a gospel existed in Magdalene's words," as if, in fact, this work actually represents the words of Mary Magdalene. After quoting some from the work and establishing that the particular early gnostics who wrote the work elevated Mary Magdalene and speculated about a conflict between Peter and Mary, Brown includes this assertion, "According to these unaltered gospels, it was not Peter to whom Christ gave directions with which to establish the Christian Church. It was Mary Magdalene." (248) Unaltered? How on earth would Brown know? The manuscript evidence supporting these second century works is a micro-fraction of what we have in support of the historical gospels from the first century. Brown is harking back to his false assertions regarding Constantine here, of course, assertions we have refuted repeatedly already.