The Mustard Seed
March 2004
(Updated May 2006)

"Did Jesus marry Mary Magdalene?"

No, not according to those who were eye witnesses to Jesus' life and ministry.

A recently published novel and movie have sparked a lot of sensational speculation on TV and in news magazines on this question. This story is fiction, but many readers and viewers who are unfamiliar with the historical record believe that the basis of the novel might be true. The Da Vinci Code's careless deviations from documented history are far too many to list here.

Author Dan Brown says that New Testament was compiled in AD 325 by Emperor Constantine to consolidate power in the Roman Catholic Church. One problem with this theory is that the Roman Catholic Church organization didn't begin to exist until 150 years later. Also, European, Middle Eastern, and African church leaders were teaching the NT Gospels and Paul's NT letters almost 200 years before Constantine was even born! The Da Vinci Code has so many basic facts of history about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Council of Nicea wrong, it should be no surprise that the novel got the Biblical record wrong, too.

Fanciful speculations of this sort are not new. During my life time there has been a sensational new "discovery" like this about once every ten years. But when you have the choice of either trusting the validated reports of eye witnesses, or accepting the speculations of a fiction writer 2,000 years later, the reasonable choice is obvious.

If you want to read about whom Jesus will marry, read Ephesians 5.25 and Revelation 21.

This issue sparked a lot of follow up questions and discussion:

Is there anything in the Gospels that indicates Jesus wasn't married?

Who decided on what to include in the Bible?

The Da Vinci Code says that Israel had female god named "Shekinah."   Where did this idea come from?

"Is there anything in the Gospels that indicates Jesus wasn't married? There seems to be little said about the family life of the apostles."

While there is not a verse in the Bible that says, "Jesus never married," we can scratch beneath the surface and get more information.

The Gospels have some family information about Peter, James & John, and Jesus. Then in Acts and the Epistles we learn about families of Paul, Timothy, Barnabas, Aquila & Priscilla.

The apparent disappearance of Joseph in Jesus' adult life is a mystery. It is safe to assume that Joseph died between the time Jesus was 12 and 30 years old.  But continued references to Mary, her daughters, and her four other sons throughout the New Testament, add weight to the silence about a wife for Jesus.

Also consider that women in the NT are most frequently identified by their family relationships:

Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah
Mary wife of Joseph, mother of Jesus
Mary's sister
Mary the wife of Clopas
Sisters Mary & Martha, and their brother Lazarus
The unnamed wife of Peter
The mother-in-law of Peter
The unnamed wife of Zebedee; mother of James and John
Herodius wife of Philip, then wife of Herod (Philip's brother)
Johanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward
Mary, mother of John Mark
Priscilla, wife of Aquila
Lois & Eunice, Grandmother & mother of Timothy

Mary Magdalene was always identified, not by her family relationships, but her city of origin (Magdala). 

Dan Brown contends that in Da Vinci's depiction of the Last Supper, the disciple sitting on Jesus' right was not the Apostle John, but Mary Magdalene.  However, the same Gospel writer who identifies that disciple explicitly describes him as male (John 13:23-25; 21:20,21).

Throughout the novel, Brown zealously promotes feminist goddess worship, and is critical of Christians for suppressing that "great treasure"... never mind the First Commandment given to Israel 1,500 years earlier, "You must have no other gods."   According to The DaVinci Code, Jesus was not true God, but Mary Magdalene was a true goddess.

If you want to see what the Bible really says about Mary Magdalene, see our Bible study series on Women of the Bible.

Who decided on what to include in the Bible?

The books of the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, were written by people of faith, whom God had inspired to communicate His Word.  The larger community of faith copied and distributed these documents - letters, history, poetry, prophecy - and recognized them for what they were, truth revealed from God Himself.  Contrary to popular myths about the Bible, there wasn't a vote on what to include or exclude.  Rather, recognition of the Holy Scriptures grew out of widespread consensus (agreement) by those who read them and understood them.

In The Da Vinci Code, author Dan Brown says Constantine edited and produced the Bible in AD 325 in order to suppress goddess worship, especially the worship of Mary Magdalene as a god.  But consider the historical evidence:
   Apostolic Fathers quote the four New Testament Gospels & Epistles of Paul as authoritative...
Clement of Rome AD 95 Rome
Polycarp AD 110 Smyrna (Western Turkey)
Ignatius AD 115 Antioch (Syria)
Shepherd of Hermas AD 150 Rome
Didache ("teaching of the 12 Apostles" = catechism) Earliest copy:
AD 150
Some scholars date parts as early as AD 50.

The Apologist quoted both OT and NT Scripture against heretical movements:

Justin Martyr

AD 170

Born in Sameria; lived in Rome


AD 177

Smyrna (Western Turkey)


AD 200

Carthage (North Africa)


AD 235

Smyrna (Western Turkey)

Clement of Alexandria

AD 200


Constantine’s reign AD 306-337
Council of Nicea AD 325

Obviously Christians Central and Eastern Europe and Northern Africa, were reading the Bible, and they considered the New Testament books authoritative long before Constantine was even born.

Purpose of the Council of Nicea was to deal with Christology of Arianism (which loosely resembles today's teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses), not to "vote" on which books to include in the Bible.  Rather, Scripture was cited at the Council as evidence against the heresy.  Dan Brown is right in claiming that the Council of Nicea voted to affirm the Biblical doctrine that Jesus Christ is True God.  However, Brown claims that the vote was "relatively close."  The actual vote was 298 for; 2 against.   (The city of Nicea is located in Western Turkey.)

Click here for further examination of the reliability of New Testament. 

The Da Vinci Code says that Israel had female god named "Shekinah."   Is that true?

This is a popular theory that was made up from thin air.  "Shekinah" is a feminine sounding name to Americans in the 21st Century.  But even a beginner in the study of the Hebrew language has the tools to research the meaning and origin of the word "shekinah."

As every student of Hebrew knows, the root of nearly every Hebrew word is a verb composed of three consonants.  If you want to look up a Hebrew noun, adjective, or adverb in the lexicon (dictionary), you need to know the root verb from which the word is derived.

"Shekinah" is an English noun which comes from the Hebrew verb "SHAKAN" (pronounce both syllables with a short"A" sound, like "ah"; emphasize the first syllable).  The verb means "dwell, inhabit, reside, settle, rest."  As a verb, this word appears 127 times in the Old Testament, and refers to

There are two nouns derived from this word:
Samples of verses that use this word in reference to God:

Exodus 24:16  Now the glory of the LORD rested (yishkon) on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (mishkan).

Deuteronomy 12:5  "But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place (shikenu); and there you shall go.

Psalms 26:8  LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells  (mishkan).

Psalm 94:17 Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul would soon have settled (shakenah) in silence.

Incidentally, the American Heritage Dictionary defines shekinah this way:

She-ki-nah ... n. Judaism. A visible manifestation of the divine presence as described in Jewish theology. [Hebrew shekina, from shekan, dwell.]

So is Shekinah the name of a goddess wife for Yahweh, the God of Israel, as Dan Brown claims?  No, not even close! 

To make his case for the "shekinah" theory, Dan Brown says that Jewish priests had sex in the temple as a form of worship to God.  Here Brown is half right.  There were times when the kings of Israel adopted worship of the sex cult of Baal & Asherah.  One descendent of King David name Manasseh even brought idols of Baal and Asherah and their altars into the Lord's temple in Jerusalem.  Manasseh also sacrificed his own son in worship to the idol of Molech.   Needless to say, what Manasseh, the priests, and the people did was very wrong, and God said so, and He punished them for it.  (2 Kings 21, and 2 Chronicles 33)