Christian Living

BibleArcheology 12/02/10

Jesus' Family Tree: The Branches You Won't Read About in The Da Vinci Code

In 2003, I read the most controversial book to hit Barnes & Noble since Harry Potter: The Da Vinci Code. The trying-to-be-historical novel alleged that Miss Mary Magdalene was actually Mrs. Jesus of Nazareth, and that together they had a daughter and started a whole occult-obsessed French royal line that still exists today.

Thanks to author Dan Brown, kajillions of historically challenged and doctrinally lazy people-- even many Christians--were confused by the novel.  Was Jesus married? Did he really have a child? Are members of Jesus' family still walking around today?

The answers to those questions: No. No. And maybe.

Regrettably, the hype overshadowed the facts. The fact is that while reports of Jesus' marriage and fatherhood have been greatly exaggerated, Jesus did have an army of blood relatives: his mother Mary, her cousin Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's son, John the Baptist. Jesus also had four brothers-- James, Joses, Simon and Judas-- as well as some unnamed sisters. And those are just the ones who are mentioned in the Bible.

But wait-- as the late-night infomercials say-- there's more.

Thanks to the detailed record-keeping of first-century Jewish families and early church historians, we also have stories about more members of Jesus' blood family not mentioned in the Bible.

There are uncles, cousins, nephews, grand-nephews... and some great-great grand-nephews-- all related by blood to Jesus of Nazareth. Their stories stretch from Jerusalem to Jordan and all the way to Rome. They led Christians to safety during the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and testified before Roman emperors. Many of them were martyred. One lived to be 120 years old.

And if you think the first Christian bishops were Roman Catholic, think again. For the first hundred years after Jesus' death, the first bishops in Jerusalem were all Jews. And every single one of them was related to Jesus.

Very often, the facts are better than fiction. And you won't find any of these facts in The Da Vinci Code.

I've been researching, writing and shooting the story of Jesus' family little by little for The 700 Club. Last year, my crew and I shot part of it in Rome and in Jordan, and few weeks ago, we shot more in Israel. And as I work on it, I think again of that last question: Are members of Jesus' family still walking around today?


Look for this story on The 700 Club sometime in the spring of 2011.

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