The Corner

Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Leaps of Logic

So I watched this ABC “News” special last night, and I think it is, indeed, biased in favor of the fantastic and unhistorical assertion that Jesus was married. Really fanciful guesses by a handful of way-out scholars are given equal screen time to more reasonable comments from the mainstream-like great Italian scholar/novelist Umberto Eco pointing out that the story is a literary invention on a par with Little Red Riding Hood. This evenhandedness leaves the unmistakable-and false–impression that this Jesus-was-married theory is an issue of serious intellectual “debate.” Interestingly, the show begins with a debunking of the idea that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute-an idea that, the show correctly points out, is a later, unscriptural innovation. The documentarians should have pursued that principle-of relying on Scripture–more consistently; it would have led them to the equally sensible conclusion that the Da Vinci Code theory, too, is a load of hooey. When the strongest argument for an event 2,000 years ago is the argument from silence-that is to say, the Gospels never specifically say Jesus wasn’t married-what you end up with is something between a wild guess and total lunacy. One thing you do not get close to in this process is historical fact. Before I get a load of e-mails accusing me of bias, I should point out that I read The Da Vinci Code and enjoyed it immensely; it’s a nicely put together suspense fantasy. On the ABC show, however, the book’s author, Dan Brown, presents the book’s assertions as fact. In the book’s foreword, titled “FACT,” he made only a much more limited claim: that some of the details-of ritual, artworks, and so on–in the book are factual. Now he’s an evangelist for the overall crackpot theory. He ought to be ashamed of himself, and ABC ought to be ashamed of itself for presenting as a news show what is basically the religious equivalent of a Roswell UFO documentary.


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