Did Jesus Have A Wife? A Look Into The Gospel Of John

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Kaleef K. Karim

Over the years the idea of Jesus having a relationship with a woman by the name of Mary Magdalene has been a controversial subject which newspapers have written about, and Christian scholars have hotly debated over and tried to refute. As mentioned, a debate has taken place over the years whether Jesus was married, had kids, or if he had sexual relation(s) with the former prostitute, Mary Magdalene. Christian scholars have been adamant and insisted that the story that is told in the Gospel of Phillip where Jesus often kissed Mary Magdalene is not true historically:

“There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and MAGDALENE, THE ONE WHO WAS CALLED HIS COMPANION. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary. … As for the Wisdom who is called “the barren,” she is the mother of the angels. And the companion of the […] MARY MAGDALENE. […] LOVED HER MORE THAN ALL THE DISCIPLES, AND USED TO KISS HER OFTEN ON HER MOUTH. The rest of the disciples […]. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” THE SAVIOR ANSWERED AND SAID TO THEM,”WHY DO I NOT LOVE YOU LIKE HER? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.” (The Gospel According to Philip (Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg), online source)

 

One of the reasons Christian scholars and apologists do not want to accept this story is because if they do, this would open up a can of worms where more questions would be asked in regards to the relationship and the whole Christian faith. If Jesus did have a relationship or was married to her, how could Jesus who is God in flesh have a girlfriend or wife? If he did have such a relationship, did he have kids? What would the kids be? Would they be God-men? Would the trinity be abandoned and the new belief of Quadrinity (or Quintinity) God be accepted?

It is easy for scholars to dismiss anything which goes against what their Church fathers have taught. However, Jesus often kissing Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Phillip does have a historical truth.

When we look at the Gospel of John we see that Mary Magdalene had touched Jesus sexually and he didn’t stop her or say don’t do that (permanent prohibition). Instead, he responded by saying I have not ascended yet. In other words, the text suggests that Jesus being touched was perfectly “ok” as long as it was done later (or she would be his future partner):

Berean Literal Bible
“Jesus says to her, “DO NOT TOUCH (HAPTOMAI) ME, FOR NOT YET HAVE I ASCENDED TO THE FATHER. Now go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'” – John 20:17

 

Jesus words “do not touch me” or “touch me not” are very difficult to interpret according to Christian scholars. [1] They say nowhere else in the Gospels has Jesus prohibited people from touching him. In the Gospel of Matthew it is clearly reported that the women held on to him and was touched:

Young’s Literal Translation
“and as they were going to tell to his disciples, then lo, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Hail!’ and they having come near, LAID HOLD OF HIS FEET, and did bow to him.” – Matthew 28:9

He was also touched in other instances, for example, Jesus told Thomas to touch him:

New International Version
“Then he said to Thomas, “PUT YOUR FINGER HERE; SEE MY HANDS. REACH OUT YOUR HAND AND PUT IT INTO MY SIDE. Stop doubting and believe.” – John 20:27

Jesus also invited all his apostles to touch him:

New International Version
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! TOUCH ME AND SEE; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” – Luke 24:39

Since Jesus allowed himself to be touched by his disciples and other women, what reason was there for him to prohibit Mary Magdalene to touch him on this instance? The answer is easy, when we read the Greek word closer, we see that the particular word used here has a sexual meaning. [2] The word “touch”, although the word is translated this way, when we look deeper, the Greek lexicons tell us that the word here is meant “sexually”. The Greek word here used here is “haptomai”. According to Greek Lexicons, the Greek verb hapto has sexual meaning.

Greek-English Lexicon – Henry George Liddell:

“hapto, fut. …: aor. …: – Pass., pf. …, Ion. … Hdt. I. 86 (v. sub …): fut. … Galen. :-Med., fut. …: aor. … (The … appears in …, …) To fasten or bind to, used by Hom. In this sense, once in Act., … (of a person putting a new string to a lyre), Od. 21. 408; … Phaedo 99 E. 6. TO HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH A WOMAN, Plat. Legg. 840 A, Arist. Pol. 7. 16, 18, 1 Ep. Cor. 7. 1: generally, TO ENJOY, Plat, Legg. 913 A, etc. 7. To come up to, reach, overtake, Xen. Hell. 5. 4, 43: to gain, Lat. Assequi, attingere, … Plat. Phaedo 65 B, al. …” (Greek-English Lexicon compiled by Henry George Liddell, D.D. (Dean Of Christ Church, Oxford) And Robert Scott, D.D. (Dean Of Rochester, Late Master Of Balliol College, Oxford) [Seventh edition, revised and augmented throughout with the cooperation of Professor drissler, of Columbia College, New York – NEW YORK: Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, 1883], page 209)

A Manual Greek Lexicon Of The New Testament – G. Abbott-Smith:

“apto [in LXX chiefly for …:] prop., to fasten to; hence, of fire to kindle, light: Lk 8:16 11:33 15:8. Ac 28:2. Mid., c. gen., to fasten oneself to, cling to, lay hold of (so in …; MM, S.V.): Mt 8:3, 15, Jo 20:17, al.: of CARNAL INTERCOURSE, 1 Cor 7:1; with reference to Levitical and ceremonial prohibitions, II Co 6:17, Col 2:21…” (A Manual Greek Lexicon Of The New Testament [New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922] by G. Abbott-Smith, D.D., D.C.L. (Professor of New Testament Literature in the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and Assistant Professor in the Oriental department In Mcgill University), page 56)

 

The Analytical Greek Lexicon:

“apto], fut. …, ( 23. Rem. 1. A) pr. To bring in contact, fit, fasten; to light, kindle, Mar. 4. 21; Lu. 8. 16, et al.; mid. … fut. …, aor. 1, …, to touch, Mat. 8. 3, et al.; to meddle, venture to partake, Col. 2.21; TO HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH, TO KNOW CARNALLY, 1 CO. 7.1; by impl. …” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon: Consisting of An Alphabetical Arrangement Of every Occurring Inflexion Of Every Word Contained In The Greek New Testament Scriptures, With A Grammatical Analysis Of Each Word, And Lexicographical Illustration Of The meanings. A Complete Series Of Paradigms, With Grammatical Remarks And Explanations. [London: Samuel Bagster And Sons, At the Warehouse for Bibles, New Testaments, Prayer Books, Lexicons, Concordances, Grammars, And Psalters, In Ancient And Modern Languages], page 49)

 

A Greek And English Lexicon Of The New Testament – Edward Robinson:

“…, f. …, to put one thing to another, to adjoin, to apply, Hom. Od. 21. 408. Hence in N. T.
1. Spoken of fire as applied to things, set fire to, to kindle, to light, trans. … Luke 8:16. 11:33. 15:8. … Luke 22:55. – Jos. Ant. 4. 3. 4. Theophr. Xhar. 18 o4 28. Thuc. 4. 100. … Judith 13:13. …, touch no unclean one, i.e. have no intercourse with the heathen; comp. Is. 52:11, where sept. for … and see Gesen. Com. In loc. C) trop. …, TO TOUCH A WOMAN, I.E. TO HAVE CARNAL INTERCOURSE WITH HER, 1 COR. 7:1. So Sept. for … Gen. 20:6. … Gen. 20:4. – Jos. Ant. 1. 8. 1. Plut. Vit. Alex. Mag. C. 21. Xen. Mem. 1. 3. 8.” (A Greek And English Lexicon Of The New Testament [Boston: Published by Crocker And Brewster. New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co. Andover: Gould And Newman, Printers, 1836] by Edward Robinson, D. D. (Late Prof. Extraord. Of Sac. Lit. In The Theol. Sem. Andover.), page 94)

As we have read the Greek lexicons for the word haptomai, this is pretty graphic in its meaning. As we have read, the word here is defined as “touch”, in the sense of “carnal intercourse” i.e., Jesus was touched sexually.

This same exact Greek word is used in Paul’s writings and the vast majority of translators have translated the word as “sexual”. Paul advises his people to stay celibate and not to have any sexual relation with woman (whom they are married too):

Common English Bible (CEB)
“7 Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have SEX WITH A WOMAN.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
“7 Now I will discuss the things you wrote me about. You asked if it is better for a man not to have any SEXUAL RELATIONS at all.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

English Standard Version (ESV)
“7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

New Century Version (NCV)
“7 Now I will discuss the things you wrote me about. It is good for a man not to have SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

New International Version (NIV)
“7 Now for the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman.’” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
“7 Now for the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman.’” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

New Living Translation (NLT)
“7 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from SEXUAL RELATIONS.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

The Voice (VOICE)
“7 Now to the topics you raised in your last letter. Some have said, ‘It is better for a man to abstain from having SEX WITH HIS WIFE.’” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

New English Translation (NET Bible)
“7 Now with regard to the issues you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to have SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman.’” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
“7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have SEXUAL RELATIONS with a woman.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Expanded Bible (EXB)
“7 Now ·I will discuss [L concerning] the things you wrote me about [C in a letter from the Corinthians; see 8:1; 12:1; 16:1]. It is good for a man not to ·have SEXUAL RELATIONS with [L touch; C a EUPHEMISM FOR SEX] a woman [C probably another slogan (6:12; 8:1, 4; 10:23) asserting that a celibate lifestyle was spiritually superior].” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

The Message (MSG)
“7 Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have SEXUAL RELATIONS?” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)
“7 Now concerning the matters you wrote about. Yes, “It is good for a man not me to have SEXUAL CONTACT with a woman.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

 

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
“7 Now as to the matters of which you wrote me. It is well [and by that I mean advantageous, expedient, profitable, and wholesome] for a man not TO TOUCH A WOMAN [TO COHABIT WITH HER] but to remain unmarried.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT)
“7 Now concerning the things which you wrote— Concerning Marriage And Singleness: Live According To Your Gift From God It is good[a] for a man NOT TO TOUCH[b] a woman.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Footnote “a” and “b” for DLNT translation:

a. 1 Corinthians 7:1 Or, commendable, praiseworthy.
b. 1 Corinthians 7:1 That is, TO HAVE SEXUAL CONTACT with, and thus, to marry. Paul extols singleness, in contradiction to the views of his day.

 

Lexham English Bible (LEB)

“7 Now concerning the things about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to TOUCH[A] A WOMAN.” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Footnote for LEB translation:

“a. 1 Corinthians 7:1 I.e., IN A SEXUAL SENSE

 

New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
“7 Advice to the Married.[b] 1 Now in regard to the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is a good thing for a man NOT TO TOUCH A WOMAN,’ [c]” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Footnote for NABRE translation:

a. 7:1–40 Paul now begins to answer questions addressed to him by the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:1–11:1). The first of these concerns marriage. This chapter contains advice both to the married (1–16) and to the unmarried (1 Cor 7:25–38) or widowed (1 Cor 7:39–40); these two parts are separated by 1 Cor 7:17–24, which enunciate a principle applicable to both.
b. 7:1–16 It seems that some Christians in Corinth were advocating asceticism in sexual matters. The pattern it is a good thing…, but occurs twice (1 Cor 7:1–2, 8–9; cf. 1 Cor 7:26), suggesting that in this matter as in others the Corinthians have seized upon a genuine value but are exaggerating or distorting it in some way. Once again Paul calls them to a more correct perspective and a better sense of their own limitations. The phrase it is a good thing (1 Cor 7:1) may have been the slogan of the ascetic party at Corinth.
c. 7:1–7 References to Paul’s own behavior (1 Cor 7:7–8) suggest that his celibate way of life and his preaching to the unmarried (cf. 1 Cor 7:25–35) have given some the impression that asceticism within marriage, i.e., suspension of normal SEXUAL RELATIONS, would be a laudable ideal. Paul points to their experience of widespread immorality to caution them against overestimating their own strength (1 Cor 7:2); as individuals they may not have the particular gift that makes such asceticism feasible (1 Cor 7:7) and hence are to abide by the principle to be explained in 1 Cor 7:17–24.

 

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
“7 Now I want to deal with the things you wrote me about. Some of you say, ‘It is good for a man not to SLEEP WITH A WOMAN.’” – 1 Corinthians 7:1

Thus we get a better picture here that Jesus was indeed touched sexually by Mary Magdalene. Some may claim that the touch here means not to cling on him non-stop, however, this does not reflect what the text says. The women in Matthew 28:9 touched him for a while, yet he didn’t prohibit them for what they did. As the evidence is shown, it is quite clear here Jesus is telling Mary Magdalene not to touch him in a sexual way for now, until he ascends. In a way the text suggests that Mary Magdalene could repeat what she did on earth in heaven to Jesus, Jesus himself did not prohibit her forever, it was a temporary prohibition until he ascended. Moreover, the sexual touch Mary gave to Jesus, he was not angry about it, otherwise, he would have rebuked her harshly, however, it seems from the text that her sexual approach was perfectly “ok” as long as it was done another time.

I don’t think there should be an issue for Jesus having a relationship with Mary Magdalene. We must remember he was fully man, he suffered hunger, thirst, he went to sleep etc, surely he would also have sexual desires like any other human. Now the question arises over children: Did Jesus have any children? The evidence so far hasn’t given us that he had any kids, but we don’t know for sure yet, maybe tomorrow new ancient evidence would be unearthed and Jesus did get married and have kids. And if Jesus did have kids, would the trinitarian belief be abandoned for Quadrinity (Quadrality 4 in 1)? Would Jesus’s children be called God-men?

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Notes:

[1] James Gray’s Concise Bible Commentary has a hard time trying to answer the question why Mary Magdalene touched Jesus: “The critical verse is John 20:17. In view of Matthew 28:9, why should Christ say “touch me not”? Was it because several women were present then, and here but one? Was it because she evinced extravagant joy in some way? Or was it because Christ would now teach her of the new relationship to His disciples He was about to assume (compare 2 Corinthians 5:15-17)? And then what is the significance of the words, “I am not yet ascended,” in this case? WE MUST CONFESS INABILITY TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS SATISFACTORILY. (James Gray’s Concise Bible Commentary on John 20:17 – online source)
[2] It is interesting to note Joseph Sutcliffe‘s (1762-1856) M. A., a Biblical scholar commenting on John 20:17, he states that some critics held the view that Mary wanted to “kiss” Jesus. We are not told who these “critics” were, Christian or non-Christian scholars. He states:
“John 20:17. Jesus said to her, touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my father. How is this prohibition reconciled with Matthew 28:9, where it is stated that Jesus met the women, and said, All hail; and they came and held him by the feet and worshipped? MOST CRITICS SAY THAT MARY IN HER TRANSPORTS OF JOY FROM THE DEEPEST OF SORROWS, WAS ABOUT TO KISS HIM, which the Lord did not allow, as unseasonable; but by and bye, being ascended to the Father, the church might then indulge the purest flame, and love him because he first loved them. — Yet Beza, and I think him singular, reads on the above text in Matthew, that the women kissed the feet of Jesus; and he quotes a line of Virgil, which indeed is not a parallel case, where Hecuba and her daughters, like a flock of pigeons, are flying from the black tempest, and embracing the shrines or statues of the gods…” (Sutcliffe’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments on John 20:17 – online source)

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3 Responses »

  1. what kind of a blasphemy is, this?

  2. you are just so carnally minded and that is dead.

  3. The Greek word haptomai in John 20:17 and 1 Corinthians 7: 1 also occurs in Luke 6:19 which states: And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed [them] all

    In Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible we find:

    “Jesus saith unto her, touch me not,”….Not that his body was an aerial one, or a mere ‘phantom,’ which could not be touched…rather, because he had an errand to send her on to his disciples, WHICH REQUIRED HASTE; nor need she stay now to show her respect to him, since she would have opportunity enough to do that, before his ascension; which though it was to be quickly, yet not directly and immediately; and this seems to be the sense of our Lord’s reason: for I am not yet ascended to my Father; nor shall I immediately go to Him; I shall make some stay upon earth; as he did, forty days before his ascension; when he intimates, she might see him again, and familiarly converse with him; at present he would have her stay no longer with him: but go [immediately] to my brethren…”

    My dear brethren, such are the ways of this world — a sexual connotation has to be applied to almost everything!

    And the Gospel of Phillip is what Muslims would call a fake hadith in the same way, this book has the same view with Christians.

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