Was Jesus married? Certainly, the Gospels depicted Jesus as a leader of a small band of male apostles with only sporadic mention of any females. Nowhere in these documents is there overt mention of him being married. However, several passages suggest otherwise. In Matt. 8:14, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Even though the Gospels did not directly state that Peter or any of the other Apostles were married, this passage tells us contrary. Peter was married, and his wife probably traveled with him. If Jesus headed a band of married apostles, then could he have been married as well?
In the War and Antiquities, Josephus wrote that the Pharisees and one sect of the Essenes married. In fact, the Fourth Philosophy of Judas the Galilean followed the tenets of the Pharisees (Ant. 18.23). We know that the later Sicarii married and had children as those at Masada were comprised of whole families. Of the last mention of the Sicarii, Josephus wrote this about their children, who showed great courage under persecution:
But what was most of all astonishing to the beholders, was the courage of the children; for not one of these children was so far overcome by these torments as to name Caesar for their lord. (War 7.419)
Considering that the Pharisees, Fourth Philosophy and one sect of the Essenes married, it is hard to believe that Jesus did not marry as well. His disciples had wives, per Matt. 8:13 and 1 Cor. 9:5, where Paul asked: Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” Everyone must have been married except Jesus! This is so improbable that only the most devout practitioners of the traditional view could possibly accept it. In fact, Jesus did marry. If Jesus were Judas the Galilean, as I claim, then he would have had many sons and daughters. According to Josephus, Judas had at least three sons, named James, Simon and Menahem. He very well could have had more but those are the only ones central to Josephus’ narrative.
In Matt. 13:55, the mother and brothers of Jesus are enumerated. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” We are to believe that the great prophet and Messiah, Jesus, was being followed by his mother and brothers, who themselves did not believe in him. My alternate solution is as follows: Mary was the wife of Jesus and his sons were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. It certainly would be appropriate for the wife and children of the Messiah to be traveling with him.
The wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) has been transformed from a wedding to a miracle. Taking away the miracle, Jesus and Mary ordered servants concerning the wine situation. In all likelihood, Jesus and Mary were the bridegroom and bride. This has been taken to unrecognizable directions by some, claiming that the heirs of this couple traveled to France. This is interesting stuff but beyond this inquiry. I think it is fair to say that Jesus was a married man with several children.
By Paul’s own words, all of the other apostles were married. So why was Paul single? He gave a hint of his own situation in 1 Cor. 7.
It is good for a man not to marry. …I wish that all men were as I am. …But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. …I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. (1 Cor. 7:1-2, 7, 32-33)
Paul was single because he only had concern for the Lord’s business. He later brought this up when comparing himself to the Jewish apostles, Cephas and the Lord’s brothers (1 Cor. 9:5-6). His stand on marriage was, therefore, another way to compare himself positively against his rivals for the faith. The above passage was also instrumental in creating an unmarried Jesus. The argument would go as such: If Paul were celibate, surely Jesus was as well. How untidy it would seem for the Savior of the world to be henpecked and taken away from the Lord’s work!
This same passage was the underpinning of the Catholic Church’s ban on marriage for the priesthood. This is particularly odd considering the Catholics consider Peter their first Pope. We have already noted from Matthew and I Corinthians that this Cephas (Peter) was married. The real reason behind the ban on marriage for the priesthood was purely economic. The Church did not want any church property being inherited by the sons and daughters of the priesthood. So much for being unconcerned about the world’s affairs!
View my new book, Judas of Nazareth, at www.danielunterbrink.com
Daniel T. Unterbrink
Author of Judas of Nazareth, available from these booksellers: