Monday, November 17, 2014

Jesus Married To Mary Magdalene? The Insanity Continues…


            Here’s a morsel of Christ-bashing from the recent past. In 2003 Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code claimed Christ’s marriage to Mary Magdalene. In 2012, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. Karen King announced the existence of an early Christian gospel (The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife – GJW) that alleged Christ’s marriage. (However, Dr. King emphasized that the fragment gospel does not provide evidence to Christ’s marriage.) November 2014 is witness to another book release, ‘The Lost Gospel,’ which claims to publicize the names of Jesus’ two children.    

            In these instances, Christ’s marriage is merely claimed superficially. However, in essence, they deny Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, thereby proposing to render Christianity invalid.

Bashing Christianity Earns Fame Without Pain

            Let’s pause and wonder why Christianity is the most hated / criticized religion more so than any other religion.

            Criticizing Christianity makes one a wealthy celebrity. It’s a fact that Dan Brown made a few millions through ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ Similarly the authors of ‘The Lost Gospel’ may hope to make a few millions too.

            On the other hand, when Salman Rushdie published ‘The Satanic Verses’ in 1988, other than making money, he had to seek police protection and even go into temporary hiding because of violent demonstrations and the fatwa that was issued against him.

            In comparison, Dan Brown, who tried his hand at bashing Christianity became a wealthy celebrity with a difference. The differentiating factor is that he became a wealthy celebrity without the pain and distress of running or hiding.

            This then is what Christianity offers to its detractors, if a fairly valiant attempt is fabricated to disprove the validity of Christianity, then the authors are more or less certain to become instantly famous and wealthier. But they do so without having to endure pain or harm.

Refuting ‘The Lost Gospel’

            But what about the detraction in itself; are the assertions in ‘The Lost Gospel’ valid?

            Please read Dr. Robert Cargill’s rebuttal of ‘The Lost Gospel’ if you wish to dig deeper into this theme.Here are a few words of refutation from Professor Cargill, a Biblical studies scholar, who highlights the stark depravity of  ‘The Lost Gospel,’ “Mr. Jacobovici’s new book essentially claims that the 6th century CE Syriac language version of a Greek pseudepigraphical story entitled  Joseph and Aseneth…is a “gospel”, and should be read allegorically, but only after replacing every mention of Joseph with the name “Jesus”, and every mention of Aseneth with “Mary Magdalene”.

            Now, if your first thought is, “WTF? This is just as problematic as the Bible Code dude, who attempts to read every passage in the Bible as an allegory for every modern event, from the Invasion of Iraq, to the Wall Street Crash, to President Obama’s election, etc.”, then you’re right on the money. It is precisely that silly – same interpretative technique, same lack of evidence, same wishful speculation. The same guy who claims to have discovered the route of the Exodus, Atlantis, the nails of the cross, the tomb of Jesus (with Jesus still in it!), and another tomb of people celebrating Jesus’ resurrection (with Jesus still in the other tomb), has now written a book claiming “evidence” that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, by swapping out the names of Joseph and Aseneth and replacing them with the names of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

            By that same allegorical logic, you could swap out the names of Samson and Delilah and claim that Mary Magdalene cut Jesus’ hair. Or swap out Adam and Eve and conclude that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were the primordial couple. Or read David and Bathsheba allegorically and end up with Jesus having a son named Solomon, who is guarded by the Priory of Sion, and…well, you get the picture.

            There is a reason that the scholars of the world are not paying any attention to this latest so-called “discovery”: there’s nothing there.”1

            When Cargill refers to the scholars of the world, he evidently included the regular Christ-bashers like Prof. Dr. Bart Ehrman, a former Christian and presently a popular voice against the deity and the resurrection of Christ. But ‘The Lost Gospel’ is so fraudulent that even Ehrman ridicules it on his facebook page,’ “The claim is completely bogus. This “new” Gospel is not a Gospel, but a text that scholars have known for roughly forever.”

            Essentially, the claim of ‘The Lost Gospel’ that Christ married Mary Magdalene is fraudulent and absurd. Christians need not bother about this fraudulent money making endeavor.  

Validating Christ’s Resurrection Disproves Christ’s Marriage

            When people assert Christ’s marriage, they essentially deny Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. This nuance should be understood and not forgotten.

            To reasonably posit Christ’s bodily resurrection is to authenticate Christ’s resurrection. If Christ’s resurrection is authenticated, then Christianity is valid. If Christianity is valid, then all claims to Christ’s marriage would be invalid and absurd.

            Many Christian scholars have contributed to ascertain the authenticity of Christ’s resurrection. Gary Habermas, a distinguished Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, and Mike Licona, a New Testament scholar and Asst. Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University, use the ‘minimal facts’2 approach to validate Christ’s resurrection in their work, ‘The Case For The Resurrection of Jesus.’

            They contend that most, if not all, scholars (Christian and Non-Christian scholars included) agree that the following historical events cannot be doubted. These historical events are:

            1. Jesus’ death by crucifixion.

            2. Jesus’ disciples’ experiences that they believed that Jesus rose from the dead.

            3. Church persecutor, Paul’s conversion experience that convinced him of Christ’s resurrection.

            4. Conversion of James (brother of the Lord Jesus), who was initially skeptical of Christ.

            Alongside these events, they submit three other historical events, which they term as ‘second order facts,’ in their minimal facts approach, these are:

            5. The empty tomb of Christ.

            6. Jesus’ predictions of HIS imminent violent death and resurrection.

            7. Earliest Apostles’ testimony that the resurrected Christ appeared in a bodily form.

            Habermas and Licona contend that the historical events 1, 2, 3 & 4 are sufficient historical bedrocks on which Christ’s resurrection can be built and defended. They support these historical bedrocks with non-biblical historical resources that validate and strengthen the factuality of these historical events. Moreover, they discuss opposing theories (such as fraud, hallucination, visions, delusions, deceptions, apparent death etc.) and offer powerful rebuttals.

            Christian apologist and analytical philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig asserts that Christ’s resurrection passes all six tests used by historians to ascertain the validity of historical facts. Dr. Craig writes, “In his book Justifying Historical Descriptions, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

            1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

            2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

            3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

            4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

            5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

            6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection hypothesis. 3


            In presence of such overwhelming assertions about Christ’s bodily resurrection, Christians could reasonably assert the factuality of Christ’s bodily resurrection. If Christ’s bodily resurrection was factual, then Christ could not have married, had children, or died in Kashmir or buried in the Talpiot tomb near Jerusalem.

            Notwithstanding any of the scholarly assertions, the Bible boldly proclaims that if Christ has not been raised, then our faith in God and Christ is futile (1 Corinthians 15: 13-19). So I encourage you through these words from the Bible, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15: 58, NIV).

            Believe in Christ, who alone saves us from all our sins, and believe in the Bible, which is the living Word of God. May the risen Lord Jesus continue to reign in every humble and seeking heart. Amen.

PostScript: If you are interested in learning more about Christ’s resurrection and refuting Bart Ehrman, then please read the links in the endnotes.


2 Minimal Fact: “From the outset of my studies, I argued that there were at least two major prerequisites for an occurrence to be designated as a Minimal Fact. Each event had to be established by more than adequate scholarly evidence, and usually by several critically-ascertained, independent lines of argumentation. Additionally, the vast majority of contemporary scholars in relevant fields had to acknowledge the historicity of the occurrence. Of the two criteria, I have always held that the first is by far the most crucial, especially since this initial requirement is the one that actually establishes the historicity of the event. Besides, the acclamation of scholarly opinion may be mistaken or it could change.”


Useful reads on Christ’s bodily resurrection:

Refuting Bart Ehrmann:

And there are many more…

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