Baker Academic

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Anthony Le Donne on Mrs. Jesus, Part One: Apology—Chris Keith

After starting Anthony Le Donne’s The Wife of Jesus: Ancient Texts and Modern Scandals when it first came out, I’ve only now had the opportunity to go back and finish it.  The book has rightly been well-reviewed but I’m not sure if some of its real contributions have been sufficiently highlighted.

I need to start this brief review with an apology to Anthony Le Donne, however.  When he first told me that he was working on a book on the wife of Jesus, I thought exactly what he knew I would think.  I wasn’t concerned that he was writing a popular-level book.  There’s a real place for this type of scholarship and anyone who’s read Anthony’s Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It? knows that he has a real gift for writing on intricate topics in a way that is not only accessible but interesting.  I was concerned because of the topic.  Writing something on the wife of Jesus seemed an obvious attempt at simultaneously ruffling feathers and gaining attention—basically, selling out to sensationalism.  My thinking at the time was that this topic—the wife of Jesus—is a black hole.  There is, in my opinion, very little in Second Temple Judaism or early Christianity that would make scholars seriously think that Jesus was married and thus there was not very much that could be usefully said about it.  I was dead wrong in the latter opinion.  I’ll explain in later posts.


  1. No apology necessary, CLK. I'm flattered that you're writing a bit about the book. I knew what sort of perception game I'd be entering when I agreed to write the book for Oneworld. It is a topic that has been sensationalized for so long that few serious historians think much about it. -anthony

  2. I think this would make a great topic on my radio show, A SHOW OF FAITH. Perhaps we can arrange for Anthony to join us one evening.