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From The Book

Was She Married to Jesus?

Lea Teabing, the teller of the “true” history of Mary Magdalene’s in The Da Vinci Code, commands our heroine, Sophie Neveu, to take a more careful look at Leonardo’s masterpiece, The Last Supper.

“Behold . . . the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father. My dear, Mary Magdalene was the Holy Vessel. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. She was the womb that bore the lineage, and the vine from which the sacred fruit sprang forth!”

The question of whether Mary and Jesus were married has inspired many a spirited (and intriguing) debate, certainly. But it tends to obscure a much more profound issue, one that goes to the heart of the Christian message: the divinity of Jesus.

As the son of God conveyed in the canonical gospels, he is divine, and though he is tempted, he rises above the sins and foibles of mankind. In the New Testament book of the Epistle of the Hebrews (4:15), he is "like us in all things except sin." This seems to include sex.

But if Jesus is married, he returns to being a human, a "mere" prophet-if a radical and unique one. Or, as in the words of a Da Vinci Code character, "a great and powerful man, but a man nevertheless. A mortal." (Arguably, the positive side of such a transformation from Jesus as divine to simply a mortal would also end forever the deep ambivalence about sexuality held by those within a monastic culture.)

The range of expert opinion on this question is broad, to say the least. Some believe the question is heresy itself; that there is no evidence whatsoever of this union in the New Testament or the alternate gospels. Some don't rule it out. Others think it unlikely-but possible. And for still others, it's an "of course." As for the "man on the street," a survey undertaken by the religious website www.Beliefnet.com found that when asked whether Jesus was married, 41 percent of respondents answered "Of course not," 23 percent said "Yes, he was, to Mary Magdalene," 5 percent said "Yes, but we don't know to whom," and 31 percent said "It doesn't matter."

Our own survey, presented as a "thought provocation," samples opinions from a wide range of scholars, theologians, and experts-a good jumping off point for further intellectual inquiry. . . .

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To read the whole range of arguments for and against Mary having been married to Jesus, please see Chapter Four, page 157 of the book.