Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jesus: Married With Children? (Part 1)

Question: Could Jesus have been married? And could he have had children?

AP: I have a section in one of my books (La vida oculta de Jesús segun los evangelios canónicos y apócrifos) that deals specifically with this issue. In fact, Thomas is in the process of finishing up the English translation (The Hidden Life of Jesus). It's being published by Wipf and Stock and will be available in the upcoming year. Allow me to just share with you what I wrote in that book:
"For the period of time with which we are concerned in this book—the hidden life of Jesus (i.e., from Jesus' birth to the beginning of his public ministry)—there is no historical document that helps us answer the question of Jesus’ civil status. In other words, was Jesus single, married, or widowed? From these obscure years, one can only offer general arguments regarding his status, basically things that can be deduced from looking at what was common in Israel during Jesus’ day."
"The main argument is just about the only argument anyone can make. Basically it says that all Jewish men—particularly the rabbis—were married when they were around twenty years old. This is not strange, since Judaism held sex and marriage as a blessing from God; and conceiving children was viewed as an act of co-creation with God, not to mention a necessity if they were going to continue as God's chosen people the land promised to Abraham. And some argue that if the New Testament says nothing about Jesus' marital status, it is because it assumes that he was married and there was no need even mention it."
"But this argument is not conclusive. Judaism in Jesus' day was not as homogeneous regarding marriage as the argument assumes. Think about the Essenes—and the Jews known as 'therapists,' who shared many similarities with the Essenes—who were 'Jewish' and 'orthodox,' yet many were celibate. We see this in Pliny the Old’s Natural History (V 15) when he talks about the Essenes. He refers to them as 'the solitary tribe of the Essenes . . . has no women and has renounced all sexual desire,' calling them a people 'in which no one is born [yet] lives on forever.' Also Josephus (Jewish War II 8.2 and 120-121) and Philo (Every good man is free, 12-13) attest to the voluntary celibacy among the Essenes. John the Baptist, who was Jesus' teacher for period of time, probably lived a celibate life. Note Mark 6:29, which states that John's disciples had to go to collect his body to bury it after he was murdered by Herod Antipas. Why them? Because he had no family to take care of those matters."
That is found in Part 1 of my book. In Part 2, which focuses on the data we find in the apocryphal Gospels, we discuss this topic in greater detail when we get to Jesus' public life. If this is a subject that interests you, then you'll want to check out Part 2 of the book when it comes out.

I also have another book that talks about this issue. It's titled Jesús y las mujeres (Madrid: Trotta, 2014).

No comments:

Post a Comment