In April 2003, Dan Brown, then a obscure, unknown writer, published a novel titled The Da Vinci Code. The central motif of the book’s fact-based storyline was that Jesus not only had a wife but had children too. The claim galvanised practically the entire globe and the book became a best seller overnight. It has since sold more than 81 million copies and ranks as the ninth best-selling book of all time.
Yet the assertion that Jesus was a wedded man did not originate with Dan Brown. The first such claim in the public domain was made by three researchers, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln in their 1982 non-fiction book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Their book was a best seller too but it was nowhere near the phenomenal success of The Da Vinci Code. Perhaps because of the dizzying success of the The Da Vinci Code, the authors of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail unsuccessfully litigated against Brown for “appropriating the architecture of our book”.
In 1996, Laurence Gardner published a book titled Bloodline of the Holy Grail, which corroborated the thesis that Jesus did marry and had offspring. Gardner, who was granted privileged access to royal and suppressed archives while researching the book, went on to say that European monarchs had known of Jesus’s marital status since days immemorial and that some of these royal families were descended from the conjoined lines of Jesus and his immediate younger brother James.
The Da Vinci Code was widely denounced by Christendom as little more than the product of a fertile but warped imagination. The notion that Jesus, who is worshipped as God incarnate in Christendom, could have engaged in sexual relations with a mortal was anathema to Christians. The Vatican lambasted the book as replete with “shameful and unfounded lies”. The Pope even appointed an archbishop dedicated to debunking its contents. The irony of it all, though, was that the Bible itself does detail clear-cut evidence that Jesus was married and does contain coded evidence to the effect that he had kids.
The “Lord’s” spouse was Mary Magdalene.
Jesus had three children with her.
THE FIRST LADY Mary is a recurring name in the gospels. There are three Mary’s mentioned in the New Testament. There is Mary the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; and Mary “of Cleopas” (that is, the betrothed of James the brother of Jesus). The apocryphal Gospel of Phillip makes mention of yet another Mary. This was Jesus’s eldest sister.
Mary is also rendered as Mirriam (Mariam in Arabic) or Maria. According to the Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity, Mary was the commonest name (80 percent) in gospel times followed by Salome (63 percent). The name’s popularity derived, first and foremost, from its Egyptian origins. All the wives of Egyptian rulers were Mary’s, or rather “Mery’s” in the language of the day. The name meant “Queen”, or “Beloved of”, what we commonly refer to as “First Lady” in respect of Republican governments.
For example, Meryaten meant “Beloved of Aten” (Aten being Nannar-Sin, Enlil-Jehovah’s second-born son), and Meryamon (over time abbreviated as “Mirriam”) meant “Beloved of Amon” (Amon being Marduk, Enki’s firstborn son, the origin of the “Amen” Christians innocently utter at the end of their prayers).
The popularity of the name Mary also stems from Mirriam, the half-sister-wife of Moses, who according to the book of Jasher (excluded from the Old Testament canon by deliberate design) was a renowned prophetess and was more popular than Moses, who had to resort to magic to earn the respect of the children of Israel (The Sixth and Seventh Book of Moses is the standard manual on advanced witchcraft). Thus Mary originally was not a name but a title. In Setswana, Mary would be rendered as Mohumagadi. Since we all want to give our children talismanic names, the title Mary became a typical household name.
In the House of David, that is, the dynastic family of Jesus, Mary was not a mere name: it was a titular distinction primarily. Mary was the title of the wife of the Davidic heir (e.g. Joseph, Jesus, and his younger brother James) and the firstborn daughter of the Davidic heir, that is, the first princess. It explains why Jesus’s mother was called Mary; his wife was called Mary; one of his sisters was called Mary; and James’s betrothed was also called Mary.
Scholars have puzzled as to why there were so many Mary’s in attendance at the scene of the crucifixion and have come up with all sorts of fanciful theories. Well, the simple answer is that all the Mary’s at Calvary were primarily titular names. The three Mary’s could have had their own particular names which are not recorded in the Bible or are recorded but in not that apparent a fashion. For example, we know that the given name of Mary the mother of Jesus was Tabitha – Dorcas in Greek. She became a Mary when she got engaged to the Davidic heir Joseph.
The non-canonical gospel of Phillip says, “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.” This very statement, which posits that Jesus had a mistress, was enough to disqualify the gospel of Phillip from inclusion in the New Testament corpus at the Council of Nicaea.
What is the first obvious signal that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s wife? There are seven occasions in the Bible where Jesus’s female companions are cited. On six of these, Mary Magdalene is listed first – a tacit metaphor for First Lady. Even in the seventh list (JOHN 19:25), she is only supplanted by Mary the Mother of Jesus (the reasons why this time around she is listed fourth instead of first we shall dwell upon in due course).
Mary Magdalene was the first person to speak to Jesus after the resurrection. The apocryphal texts describe her as, “The woman who knew the all of Jesus”; the one “Christ loved more than all of the disciples”; and the apostle “endowed with knowledge and insight far exceeding that of Peter”. If she’s at once spoken of in superlatives and presented as somebody who was closer to Jesus than anybody else, then surely Mary Magdalene had to be special. But first, exactly who was Mary Magdalene?
RELEASED FROM THE JUDAS TUTELAGE In the 13th century, Jacapo di Voragine, the Archbishop of Genoa, wrote a book titled Life of Mary Magdalene from church records. The book furnishes a bit of insight on the lineage and parentage of Mary Magdalene.
According to Jacopo, Mary Magdalene’s father was Syro, which may not have been his real name as it seems to be too suspiciously close to “Syria”. Syro was a Jewish nobleman who was based in Syria. He was descended from Ira the Jairite, a chief priest of King David.
The Jairus priests originated with the Old Testament sons of Jair in the time of Moses. Syro’s wife, Eucharia, the mother of Mary Magdalene according to Jacopo, was a Hasmonean princess. However, as we shall find out next week, Syro was not the real father of Mary Magdalene and Eucharia was not her mother at all. Mary Magdalene was actually not a Jew but a Gentile.
Most Christians may not be aware of this but Mary Magdalene makes her first appearance in the gospels in MATTHEW 9: 18-25 as Jairus’s daughter who was “raised from the dead”. Now, there was no miracle about this event: Mary Magdalene did not die and was then restored to life. What she underwent was a simultaneous Bar Mitzvah ceremony and a baptism by Jesus to make her eligible for marriage to him.
She was therefore raised from figurative death (darkness) into the degree of community life (light). Jesus performed this rite on Mary Magdalene when she was 12 years old as the gospels relate, in AD 29. Since she had come of age, she was eligible for marriage and therefore was ripe for betrothal. Prior to this, she was not a Mary: but after her engagement to Jesus at age 12, she assumed the titular name of Mary and became entitled to all the privileges this title conferred.
The AD 29 joint baptismal and Bar Mitzvah ceremony also marked the event when “seven demons came out of Mary Magdalene” (LUKE 8:2). Once again, this has been misconstrued as Mary’s deliverance from seven literal evil spirits, which is unfortunate. All Mary’s, that is, future dynastic spouses for the Princes of Judah (that is, Jesus and his four younger brothers in gospel times) primarily or any other suitors from the nobility, were kept in a monastic convent at Qumran where they were supervised and watched over under strict regulations by the seven demon priests.
The seven demon priests, also called satans, were Zealots who were a symbolic opposition group to the seven civilian priests who were considered to represent the seven lights of the Menorah (the seven-branched candlestick of Jewish tradition).
Numbered 1 to 7 in ascending order, the seven demon priests were headed by the Chief Scribe, who was designated Demon No. 7. In gospel times, this was Judas Iscariot. When a Mary was spoken for and was about to get betrothed, she was released from the convent. This was figuratively referred to as “being delivered from seven demons”. Remember, in biblical times, the terms “Satan”, “Devil”, and “Demon” did not always carry the diabolical, Reptilian connotation they invariably do today.
WATCHTOWER OF THE FLOCK Why was she called Mary Magdalene (whose variants are Maddalena and Madeleine)? There are three reasons for this, rooted in the gospel writers’ penchant for wordplay, with the last two being the more logical.
The first is that she must have come from Magdala, a bustling trade centre on the Sea of Galilee which was noted for fishing as well as fish processing. Its correct name was actually Magdal Nunaiya, meaning “Fish Tower”. Since there are several Mary’s mentioned in the gospels, Mary Magdalene had to be referred to as such to distinguish her from the rest.
The Magdal Nunaiya attribution, however, is suspicious as it seems to conform to the fish symbolism that pervades the gospels. The fish symbolism is a political rather than historical statement: it underlines the advent of the Age of Pisces as well as the fact of Jesus being a champion of the Enkite agenda as opposed to the Enlite (Jehovah’s) agenda. Enki was also known as the “Fisher God” in that he was the god of the sea.
The second had to do with the Essene order to which she belonged. Essenes categorised themselves into orders which corresponded to the 12 tribes of Israel. The women belonged to either of only two orders, that of Asher and Dan. Mary’s in particular belonged to the order of Dan. In each order, women were classified into grades.
These were Mother (12), Virgin (13), Widow (14), and Wife (15), with the lower number being senior to the higher number. A woman was classified a Virgin until she was six months pregnant, when she was promoted to Mother. As a Virgin, she was said to belong to “Great Dan”. In Greek, this was ‘Megas Dan”, which was corrupted to Magadan in daily parlance and in due course became synonymous with Magdala and hence Magdalene.
The third reason derives from Mary Magdalene’s personal status in the order of Dan. In Life of Mary Magdalene, Jacapo di Voragine says Mary “possessed the heritage of the castle of Bethany”, or rather the tower of Bethany as it should be correctly translated since Mary’s were not allowed to own property and therefore Mary Magdalene could not have possessed the heritage of a castle.
In Essene nomenclature, Bethany was a building used by the “poor” (a term applying to Essenes who were not allowed to own individual assets) at Qumran and the surrounding centres such as Mird and Ain Feshka. The poor included members of the order of Dan as all its members had to pool whatever they personally owned into a common, communal stock.
As Virgin and the bride of the Davidic heir, Mary Magdalene was the chief woman of the order of Dan and oversaw 500 women. Her title was therefore the Magdal-elder, meaning “Watchtower of the Flock”, as in MICAH 5:8, which reads, “As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem". This was a high societal status (castle/tower) of community guardianship. Indeed, it is significant that in LUKE 8:2, Mary Magdalene is described as “Mary called Magdalene”, that is, Mary called the Watchtower!
Now, if Mary Magdalene was not a Jew and her real parents were not Syro the Jairus and his wife Eucharia, who were her real parents? That we unpack for you in next week’s instalment.
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.