Did Jesus have a family by Mary Magdalene leading to a long bloodline that had to be defended by the Knights Templar? If there was a bloodline of Jesus – was it located in southern France or the deserts of Qumran in modern Israel? Did Jesus die on the cross or did he somehow survive to raise a family?
Let’s try and get to the bottom of this. I’m going to take you on a quick tour of biblical, medieval and modern sources that point to the possibility that Jesus was a husband and father. And that there was a Bloodline of Jesus – descendants sometimes referred to by the word Desposyni.
JESUS BLOODLINE SOURCE: Gnostic gospels excluded from the New Testament
There are a number of gospels that have come to light over the years that were rejected by the early Christian church for inclusion in the New Testament. Now, orthodox Christians and evangelicals will say flatly – that’s because they were wrong or heretical. But then, heresy is in the eye of the beholder. And what was heretical at one point in church history was not in another.
In 1945, in the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi, several bundles of texts were unearthed after nearly two millennia in the ground. These turned out to be what are called “apocryphal” gospels on the life of Jesus. They had a very gnostic flavour to them. And by gnostic, I mean a belief in a type of Christianity that was firmly suppressed by the mainstream church in the first centuries after Christ.
The books had titles like the Gospel of Truth; the Sophia (wisdom) of Jesus Christ; the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit and On the Origin of the World. They also included the Gospel of Philip; the Gospel of Thomas; the Apocryphon of John and the Letter of Peter to Philip. And let’s be clear – none of these books are forgeries. They were written within the first two centuries after the death of Jesus. The question is whether they have any theological authority – as far as the church is concerned.
What we get from these gospels is a very different picture of Jesus Christ, his mission on Earth and who the early church was really led by. I won’t go into all the complexities about gnosticism. But with regards to Jesus – his family members (brothers and even sisters) seem to have had leadership roles in the early church. It really was a family affair!
And Mary Magdalene was a far more important figure to Jesus than we have been led to believe. She was not the insignificant figure described in the four accepted gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Neither was she the prostitute that she became at the hands of the early church. In fact, it was only as late as the sixth century AD before she was characterised as such by Pope Gregory.
Worse for mainstream Christians – Mary Magdalene understood the message of Jesus while followers like Peter and Matthew floundered badly. In the gospel of Philip, Mary Magdalene is described as being very close to Jesus and his “companion”. Now, we get into the quicksand of translating ancient Greek and Coptic. Needless to say, there’s been plenty of heated debate but not much light on whether the word “companion” in these texts suggests a friend or a wife.
JESUS BLOODLINE SOURCE: Alleged Cathar teachings
We jump forward a thousand years into the medieval era. Southern France is convulsed in revolt against the Catholic church. A sect called the Cathars exercised huge influence and even won over members of the aristocracy. They rejected the Catholic sacraments, had their own priesthood (that included women) and spurned the ostentatious wealth of the Pope and his venal bishops.
They also, it is claimed, subscribed to an old view that Mary Magdalene had indeed been married to Jesus. Some academics question that the Cathars believed this – though they don’t deny that Mary Magdalene being married to Jesus is mentioned by these heretics.
Interestingly, the Cathars also embraced the gnostic version of Christianity that we find in the Nag Hammadi scrolls. And they even talked about God the Father being married to a female deity in heaven.
JESUS BLOODLINE SOURCE: Taking the Cathar story to the next level
Now, there isn’t a problem for most historians with what I’ve said about the Cathars so far. It’s the work of other authors on the Knights Templar that causes more controversy. So let’s summarise them:
- Margaret Starbird wrote a 1993 book called The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail. She’s rarely credited with her contribution to the thinking that led to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Starbird argued in her book that the patron saint of the Roma people, Saint Sarah, was in fact the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Saint Sarah was revered in southern France, Cathar territory.
- Which brings us to The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail originally published in 1982 and written by the trio: Henry Lincoln, Michael Baignet and Richard Leigh – two of whom ended up in litigation with Dan Brown – but that’s another story. This book picks up on the Cathar and French connection arguing that Mary Magdalene fled to France and was sheltered by the Jewish community. This memory was held dear by the Cathars. So, the church had to suppress the Cathars in order to destroy that memory.
- Proof that Mary Magdalene was in France with child is evidenced by the cult around her that lasted well into the Middle Ages, according to Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince in their book The Templar Revelation. They point to the so-called Black Madonnas that can be found in southern France and the curious depiction of Mary Magdalene with a child.
Picking up on what Picknett says – it should be noted that a very popular abbey for medieval pilgrims at Vézelay in southern France was dedicated to Mary Magdalene and did indeed have an image of a Black Virgin. It also claimed to have the bones of Mary Magdalene authenticated by the Pope himself in the year 1058. And just over a hundred years later, in 1167, it was the site of a mass burning of Cathars tied to wooden stakes.
There are medieval sources that hint at an association of some kind between Jesus and Mary Magdalene such as the works of the friar Ermengaud of Béziers. But Catholics retort along the lines that it was a “spiritual marriage”. However, if you read about the so-called spiritual marriage that a saint like Catherine of Siena believed she had with Jesus then it’s pretty raunchy stuff. It comes across to us as deeply repressed sexual longing.
For all this talk of the Cathars knowing about the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, it’s not really mentioned by Dan Brown. I’ve no doubt he knew about this theory – because of his acknowledged source materials – but decided not to use it in the Da Vinci Code. Who knows why.
JESUS BLOODLINE SOURCE: A lost Dead Sea Scroll
There is another less well known theory that places Jesus and his wife Mary Magdalene at Qumran in modern Israel. This was where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the years after the Second World War by Bedouin shepherds and then professional archaeologists. It was the centre of a Jewish Messianic community called the Essenes – who held a very dim view of the Jewish Temple priests in Jerusalem.
The book outlining this idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene lived at Qumran is called Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The author, Barbara Thiering, adheres to the “swoon hypothesis” that Jesus fell unconscious on the cross and was rescued. He was then whisked off to rejoin his wife at Qumran.
An interesting variant of this is the 1955 novel The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. It was made into a very controversial 1988 movie directed by Martin Scorsese. But I think it’s a very Catholic story steeped in guilt and redemption. Essentially, Jesus is tempted to magically leave his sufferings on the cross. He marries Mary Magdalene and then when she dies remarries and has children.
But during the Jewish Revolt, he’s then told that it was the devil in disguise as a young woman that tempted him away from his own crucifixion. Jesus then begs to be returned to the cross. He must fulfil his mission and redeem humanity. So in this book, Jesus does take wives and has children but the whole thing ends up as kind of fantasy wiped clean when he resumes his proper painful trajectory.
A 1970s non-fiction best seller The Jesus Scroll had Jesus and Mary Magdalene holed up in the fortress of Masada. I visited there in 2012 and it’s famous for the mass suicide of Jewish rebels resisting Roman rule. The author claimed to have had brief sight of a two thousand year old scroll written by an 80-year-old man at the time detailing his biography. It was none other than a geriatric Jesus describing his decades of married life to Mary Magdalene.
Linking the Knights Templar to the Bloodline of Jesus
In all these theories – and there are more – there is the persistent theme that the Bloodline of Jesus is under constant threat from the Roman Catholic church. Not only the bloodline but all those who acknowledge it. The church will stop at nothing to erase the memory of Jesus having a family.
So – the bloodline needs protecting. And this is where we get a slew of conspiracy theories about the Knights Templar. Please search for all my blog posts on the Priory of Sion and Rex Deus. But in a nutshell – the Knights Templar are conjured into existence by a clandestine network that includes the descendants of Jesus.
Now, opponents of this would obviously point out that the Templars were fully endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. They enjoyed huge privileges lavished on them by the popes. But then of course that very same church that had raised them – brought them crashing down. The Pope and his agents levelled charges of heresy and sodomy against the knights while imprisoning and torturing them.
So – one may ask – was there an underlying reason for that harsh and cruel treatment of the Knights Templar?