or “Is the premise of The DaVinci Code really true?”
There is one other influence on the New Testament which we should keep in mind. As happens with all myths and legends, the stories are refined and retold repeatedly. This will often cause unwanted details to be dropped (as we’ve already seen), and extra details tend to creep in. It is therefore entirely likely later editors and censors of the bible simply removed all reference to Jesus’ married state, as his story was revised by those who were jealous of Mary Magdalene, and as others sought to re-cast Jesus in the role of immaculate non-carnal sacrifice to god.
Therefore, to sum up the first three questions: it makes perfect cultural sense for the time, for Jesus and Mary Magdalene to be husband and wife. However, we must remember the bible was originally a collection of oral histories written down after centuries of re-telling, then modified, lost, added to, deleted from, and reshuffled over more centuries, to suit the cultural needs of the times.
It would thus be relatively easy for uncomfortable “facts” or unwanted books to be quietly edited, or discarded and forgotten — and we’ll never know for sure.
4) Does it matter?
My final thought on the question is entirely pragmatic — what does it matter if two fictional characters were married? The Romans were compulsive record keepers, but aside from the bible there’s no physical or written evidence whatsoever of Jesus.
No kidding, there’s none. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Absolutely, unequivocally nothing. Therefore, if what we’re talking about here is just a nice inspirational story, then modifying it to suit your personal needs seems entirely reasonable.
I’ll readily admit a religion based on a virgin mother and celibate son (let’s not even get into his father planning his murder) is a little creepy — few will be able to find or maintain themselves for long in those impossible role models. Also, casting sexuality as sinful and dirty, and excising it from spiritual life, seems like a mistake to me.
Sexuality is a natural part of being human — and aren’t we supposed to be created in the image of god? Refusing your sexuality is a distortion, a denial, an attack on your basic human nature — as we can see from the oft-repeated clerical sex scandals. You might as unhealthily cut off your arm because someone told you god said it was icky.
That’s why I like the stories about Mary Magdalene and Jesus. She’s not just Jesus’ sex partner or mate or companion — or whatever. She’s the cleverest and most enlightened of the apostles, and it’s obvious he loves her.
Now that’s a religious role model I can be inspired by: Jesus as a person who is human and sexual, as well as divine, and Mary as an apostle who is both human and gendered female — but also, and more importantly, renown as a brilliant student, teacher, and leader.
So I’d say the decision is ultimately up to you. Do you feel the need to believe in Jesus the pure Sacrificial Lamb sacrificed to his Godself and untouched by the “pollution” of women? Then in the good old US of A it is your right and ability to do so, and to choose the religion you wish to follow.
Do you prefer a Jesus who is more a Son of Man, as he is originally always referred to, and Mary as the Bride of Christ, in a religion not based on obliterating all female contact Jesus may have had? If so, go for it! I certainly feel Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ brilliant complement and enlightened companion allows for more gender balance, and a more emotionally stable and healthy religious ideal.