Question for Margaret Starbird
Posted by: “Pamela Lanides”
Date: Sun Apr 17, 2016
Dear Mrs. Starbird,
I have a couple of Jewish friends who will say that during the time of
Jesus, no rabbi would be accepted if he had not been married and so it
would be perfectly plausible that Jesus and MM were married.
However, some Christian scholars will turn around and state that there
were many celibate men at the time of Jesus who were considered to be holy
Is the latter statement true, in your estimation?
Margaret Starbird writes:
Dear Rev. Pamela,
My major source for believing that marriage was a “cultural imperative” for Jewish males is Dr. William E. Phipps, head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Davis and Elkins College (West Virginia). Dr. Phipps wrote two books on the subject, “The Sexuality of Jesus,” and “Was Jesus Married?” A Jewish father in the first century had 5 duties toward his son:
1) Have him circumcised on the 8th day after his birth; 2) offer an offering in the temple on his behalf; 3) teach him Torah; 4) teach him a trade (so he could support himself and his family); and
5) find him a wife before his 18th birthday (20th birthday if the son was studying to be a rabbi). If the father failed to find a wife for his son, the community elders helped him! Apparently girls were not required to marry, but boys were!
Occasionally Christians suggest the the Essenes were unmarried, but when females were found in tombs in the cemetery at Qumran, they had to revise that assertion. What appears to be true is that Essene males would leave their wives and families for a period of training and then return to them. Life-long celibacy was not condoned. It was a breach of the first commandment God gave to Adam in Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply.”
Christian exegetes occasionally mention Rabbi Akiba (2nd century) who devoted his life to studying Scripture, but the Talmud says in several other places that he was married and then divorced his wife so that he would have more time for his studies, so even his (often cited case for celibacy) is unclear.
If your Christian friends can name a 1st c. Jewish man who was unmarried, that would surprise me. A “beardless youth” is not yet old enough to marry and St. Paul, who claims to be celibate during his ministry, also asserts that he is a Pharisee, so he must have been either widowed or divorced. Divorce was really easy back in those times, so many men may have enjoyed that single state…. but they were not “life-long celibates.”
The Hebrew language did not have a word for “bachelor.” The word they now use is “ravak”—which means “empty.”
I hope this helps!
in memory of her—