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Source: (consider it) Thread: What if Jesus had been married ...
Divine Outlaw
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# 2252

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quote:
Originally posted by sharkshooter:
Matthew, for example, was clear to point out the geneology of Jesus thus emphasizing His humanity, so, why would it not give some indication of that line continuing? It does not make sense.

Surely not his humanity (which doesn't seem to have been in doubt then) but his Davidic lineage - something to which his marital status would be irrelevant.

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by Divine Outlaw Dwarf:
On tradition, I am not aware of any council or Pope having taught it to be a necessary part of orthodox belief that Jesus was not married. It may, as I said, be a long-standing pious tradition. And we can make of that what we will. It was, however, for many centuries a long-standing pious tradition (for example) that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. A view which is simply wrong.

But this was very clearly disputed early on; both Origen and Tertullian argued for an authorship other than Paul's. I'm not aware of such a debate on the marital status of Jesus. I would think someone early on in the church would have said something, anything, about such a monumentally important relationship if it were in doubt at all. This was a time when they were sorting out all manner of permutations of orthodoxy and heresy, and -- if Jesus had an earthly wife and/or biological offspring -- to leave that out altogether, when they were dealing with all those other matters regarding His humanity and Divinity, seems to me to be implausible to the point of nigh-impossibility.

David

[ 30. May 2006, 18:45: Message edited by: ChastMastr ]

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Divine Outlaw
Gin-soaked boy
# 2252

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Dare I suggest that we think Jesus' marital status is more important than ancients would have done. As I've said above we take someone's 'personal' life to be far more significant now than was common at the time of the composition of the NT books. It took the church centuries to discern the sacramental status of marriage. The marital status of the gospels' principal protagonists (with the exception of Mary, for obvious reasons) just doesn't seem to have been an issue - we only know Peter was married accidently, for example, through the mention of his mother-in-law.

As for the issue of patristics, I think it is question-begging. The patristic debates were by-and-large conducted in conversation with the gospels. And the gospels do not mention Jesus marital status. So the fathers were in no better position than us in that regard. Why do you think, say, Athanasius some three hundred years after the crucifixion, with the gospels as his reference point regarding Jesus' life would have special knowledge about those apsects of that life not mentioned in the gospels?

[ 30. May 2006, 18:58: Message edited by: Divine Outlaw Dwarf ]

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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quote:
Originally posted by Divine Outlaw Dwarf:
Dare I suggest that we think Jesus' marital status is more important than ancients would have done.

You can suggest it but I don't see that this would be the case. The nature of Jesus, and His humanity and Divinity, were precisely the focus in the debates of the early Church, and even earlier than Athanasius himself. The fact that -- and if there are documents dealing with this matter, please tell me what they are -- there was no reference at all to what would be the spouse and/or offspring of God incarnate leads me to think it was a total non-issue. It's not a matter of people asking about whether or not His children would in some way be specially Divine, and being refuted or agreed with, but no reference at all. And if He had been married and had no biological children, that would be another issue -- "barrenness" and such. I do think that, regardless of the worldviews of modern people and ancient people, anything like this would have been significant enough to rate some mention, as we're not talking about some mere saint but God Himself made flesh, and the nature of that flesh.

David

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ChastMastr
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# 716

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PS: I don't think that the notion of Jesus being married in an earthly sense would be a matter of heresy, just history. If He had married and had children/descendants then the whole issue of how one would regard them (living relics, perhaps?) would certainly be something to deal with. What sort of reverence would be due them? And so on.

David

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Divine Outlaw
Gin-soaked boy
# 2252

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I think we agree that there is no issue of orthodoxy involved. We also agree about the silence of early texts. My question is about how we read that silence. My position is that we can't have confidence in any definite confusion. There is a danger of anachronistically reading back modern views on the importance of marriage into ancient minds, or of trying to second guess debates which may or may not have happened which we have no existing evidence about. There is also a danger of reading back subsequent theology into NT period authors. A fifth century Alexandrian would have explicitly described Jesus' alleged wife as the 'wife of God' and would have realised the significance of such a statement. I doubt Paul would have done.

We just don't know. And I think that's OK. What we do know is what the NT authors did write, in order that we might be saved.

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ChastMastr
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And I suppose we can indeed disagree about those matters (Paul, Alexandria etc.) without rancor. [Smile]

David

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Pasco
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# 388

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
..Taking the hypothetical question...
What would have happened if instead of ascending he just went off to live in obscurity with his wife? What about if he'd had kids?

If he'd had kids, there would be a huge rift between them and the spiritual descendants of Peter the chief Apostle.

Alternate scenario: No celibate priesthood, no Rennaisance and therefore Da Vinci's talents would never have materialised in the way it did; a Special interest discussion board such as The Da Vinci Code would be under a different genre. Dan Brown may still capitalise though on his "Own Brand" {anagram} of History.

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Alan Cresswell

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# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Pasco:
If he'd had kids, there would be a huge rift between them and the spiritual descendants of Peter the chief Apostle.

Why do you think there would be a rift between the descendants of Jesus and the spiritual descendants of the Apostles? Do you think they would have different theologies? Or, just that it would be an issue of power and authority? (which is, as I understand it, one of the main differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims - whether the spiritual authority of the Prophet passed to his children or those of his companions capable of the job).

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Pasco
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# 388

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Pasco:
If he'd had kids, there would be a huge rift between them and the spiritual descendants of Peter the chief Apostle.

Why do you think there would be a rift between the descendants of Jesus and the spiritual descendants of the Apostles? Do you think they would have different theologies? Or, just that it would be an issue of power and authority? (which is, as I understand it, one of the main differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims - whether the spiritual authority of the Prophet passed to his children or those of his companions capable of the job).
I was thinking from the point of power and authority. The Shia-Sunni scenario would then vie with Christendom's equivalent to see whose rift was greater.

'British-Israelites-in-direct-line-of-the-Saviour' breast-beating Shia-style to show their sorrow for the crucifixion? Shia missionaries could perhaps provide some lessons in how they do it re their own context, in Muharram.

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mark deckard
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For me the definitive evidence that Jesus NEVER fathered a child in Isaiah 53:8
"In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth."

God settled the debate by prohetic testimony some 750 years before Christs death.

The passage is also cited in Acts 8:33

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Athrawes
Ship's parrot
# 9594

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quote:
Originally posted by Pasco:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
..Taking the hypothetical question...
What would have happened if instead of ascending he just went off to live in obscurity with his wife? What about if he'd had kids?

If he'd had kids, there would be a huge rift between them and the spiritual descendants of Peter the chief Apostle.

Alternate scenario: No celibate priesthood, no Rennaisance and therefore Da Vinci's talents would never have materialised in the way it did; a Special interest discussion board such as The Da Vinci Code would be under a different genre. Dan Brown may still capitalise though on his "Own Brand" {anagram} of History.

Just curious here - why would that have meant no celebate priesthood? It seems pretty certain that the early priests were married, following the Rabainic tradition,and certainly Irish priests were able to marry at least until the Council at Whitby (I think) when celebacy got a big push. The bit about celebacy seems to have come from Paul, and that wouldn't have changed, regardless, as far as I can see.

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Teufelchen
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# 10158

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quote:
Originally posted by mark deckard:
For me the definitive evidence that Jesus NEVER fathered a child in Isaiah 53:8
"In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth."

God settled the debate by prohetic testimony some 750 years before Christs death.

That's hardly going to convince an historian, Mark. I think, in fact, it betrays a misunderstanding of what a prophecy is.

T.

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Bob Harvey
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# 3969

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Case 1: Jesus was married before he began his mission.
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Taking the hypothetical question, what differences in Christian theology and practice would there be if Jesus had been married? Assuming everything else was the same - ie: He got crucified, rose again on the third day and then ascended into heaven.

A number of people have already said that he would have been a poor sort of father to have abandoned his family and go off on a religious progress. I accept that, and think that the nature of the gospels shows that he wasn't and didn't. But that is just circumstance. It would be quite possible, had he been so married, for him still to have taught, performed miracles, witnessed. Some of the details given would have been different, but I don't think the message up to that point would have been substantially different. But it would have been difficult for him to accept being crucified, even though he was going to rise again, with family responsabilities behind him. Nevertheless, it might still have been possible, and we would have been told a slightly different story, and the outcome - the taking away of everyone's sin by an act of redemption - could have been unaltered.

Then, of course, there is the business of timing: I have always believed him to be around 30 during his ministry, and that would have been time to have a young family and see them grow to self-sufficient adulthood, or at least secure apprenticship, and no longer be dependant on him.

Or, indeed, time for his wife and children to die tragically young, but still time enough for him to have known romantic and familial love.

I can see nothing in those possibilities that would have prevented his ministry and sacrifice. OK, the background story from the Gospels would be slightly different, so we believe he had not been a family man. But nothing about being a husband and father would have disqualified him from teaching and from the ressurection had he had that experience. Anyway, he was the son of God, and God could easily have made any tiny nigling difficulties overcomable.

I don't think that Jesus was married, nor yet a father, at the time of the crucifixion, but I don't think that if he had been he would have disqualified himself.

Case 2: surviving the cross
quote:
What would have happened if instead of ascending he just went off to live in obscurity with his wife?
I do think that this is entirely different. Surviving execution in the body, and going on to live quietly abroad would change, perhaps invalidate, the whole subsequent story we have been told. Again I see two possibilities:

  • There was no death, and therefore no ressurection
This changes everything. It would all have been a lie. The teachings would be those of a good man, driven by the circumstances of the time. Not the living, eternal, word of God for all time.
  • There was a death, and a ressurection, but no ascension
This is an interesting idea, one in which the miracle of redemptive power is still given us, but Jesus is given a few short years to complete the human experience, quietly and mitigating the pain and shock to his wife. I wonder if, had he been married at the time of his execution, this would have been the better outcome for him and for her than ascension.

But it only works if it is private, and if we do not lurk at his gate like redtop journalists.

For me, this need not alter the central truths as they might have been. But, just as the gospels tell us of no wife, they tell us he was taken up into heaven. It's part of the creed.

So, to summarise, I am sure that God could have worked round the problem had Jesus been married, and I don't think anything about his having been married would have prevented him giving us all this act of redemptive love. I don't think it matters, one way or the other whether he was, but I am sure that, as a simple and unimportant fact, he was not. If we knew his sandall size, we would not claim that the size of his feet was essential to his task. Likewise, if he was left handed. Being married or not is like that.

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Pasco
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quote:
Originally posted by Athrawes:
quote:
Originally posted by Pasco:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
..Taking the hypothetical question...
What would have happened if instead of ascending he just went off to live in obscurity with his wife? What about if he'd had kids?

If he'd had kids, there would be a huge rift between them and the spiritual descendants of Peter the chief Apostle.

Alternate scenario: No celibate priesthood, no Rennaisance and therefore Da Vinci's talents would never have materialised in the way it did; a Special interest discussion board such as The Da Vinci Code would be under a different genre. Dan Brown may still capitalise though on his "Own Brand" {anagram} of History.

Just curious here - why would that have meant no celebate priesthood? It seems pretty certain that the early priests were married, following the Rabainic tradition,and certainly Irish priests were able to marry at least until the Council at Whitby (I think) when celebacy got a big push. The bit about celebacy seems to have come from Paul, and that wouldn't have changed, regardless, as far as I can see.
With the historical emphasis on the (hypothetical) "Jesus line", the St Peter's Church-on-the-seven-hills fraternity would never have materialised in the way it subsequently did. There would have been a different set of politics in the middle ages, whatever form it may have emerged as, with the celibate priesthood a rarity perhaps. If the blood-line was in the spirit of its founder there would have been a massive following centred around these personas, who would be married in keeping with the traditions of the OT, as you've suggested. But as with most human enterprises (moving away from the source) somewhere along the line there would eventually emerge a split. The Sunni-Shia scenario is set here as a classic example that can easily happen to dynasties, as has done so in many spheres of life through the ages.
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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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quote:
Originally posted by Bob Harvey:
quote:
What would have happened if instead of ascending he just went off to live in obscurity with his wife?
I do think that this is entirely different. Surviving execution in the body, and going on to live quietly abroad would change, perhaps invalidate, the whole subsequent story we have been told.
Actually that wasn't quite the scenario I'd put forward. Still accepting that Christ was crucified, died and buried, and on the third day rose again. And, accepting that he hung around a while, appearing to his disciples, teaching them and finally breathing on them saying "receive the Holy Spirit". What if, after all that, instead of ascending into heaven he disappeared with his wife (and kids) to live in obscurity?

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Moo

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# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Still accepting that Christ was crucified, died and buried, and on the third day rose again. And, accepting that he hung around a while, appearing to his disciples, teaching them and finally breathing on them saying "receive the Holy Spirit". What if, after all that, instead of ascending into heaven he disappeared with his wife (and kids) to live in obscurity?

For one thing, it would appear to make him a liar in John 14:1-3.
quote:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

Moo

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
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Though, he could have lived in obscurity for another 30 years into venerable old age, watched his kids grow up and his grandkids born. And, then gone onto His Fathers house to prepare places for those who followed him. The timing doesn't seem critical to me if we're talking about something in eternity.

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Divine Outlaw
Gin-soaked boy
# 2252

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quote:
Originally posted by Teufelchen:
I think, in fact, it betrays a misunderstanding of what a prophecy is.

Just a bit!

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MSHB
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# 9228

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quote:
Originally posted by mark deckard:
For me the definitive evidence that Jesus NEVER fathered a child in Isaiah 53:8
"In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth."

God settled the debate by prohetic testimony some 750 years before Christs death.

The passage is also cited in Acts 8:33

Welcome to our little madhouse of sanity, Mark!

It is interesting that the quote in Acts concerns the Ethiopian eunuch, who (if literally a eunuch) would have no descendents himself. Perhaps he was drawn to the childless, wifeless Messiah as one like himself?

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