Regular readers will remember that I had become interested in the strange case of the French author Louis Martin, who wrote the book Les Évangiles sans Dieu (“The Gospels without God”), in which he claimed that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene had a child together. This claim is almost boringly familiar today, but Martin was apparently the first to make it when he published his book in 1887. The only trouble is that there are very few copies of the book in circulation. The publisher printed a few hundred copies, of which far fewer survive, fewer still accessible to the public. Most are in Europe. I believe there is one in a library in North America, at Cornell University. That’s why I am extremely thankful to David Bradbury, a regular reader of this blog, who was able to review a copy of the book and provided me with the French text of the relevant pages where Martin makes his most outrageous claim.
I have translated these pages and placed them in my Library. Bradbury is working on a full translation of the entire book, which I am certain will be vastly superior to my translation efforts! Louis Martin’s style is inordinately wordy and fond of figurative language and allusion, which makes it a bit of challenge for me to translate as easily as more straightforward French. It is apparently an iron rule of fringe literature that the less one has to say the more words one uses to say it.
That said, I was shocked and surprised that Martin’s most remarkable claim—the very foundation of the Holy Bloodline mythology—is based on virtually nothing at all. I had expected that the author would have made something of an argument and at least attempted to marshal some evidence to support his claim, but in these pages nothing at all was forthcoming.
According to Martin, he chose to follow medieval legends from Provence, which told of how Mary Magdalene, after the death of Jesus, fled to the area around Aix, where she devoted the rest of her life to holy contemplation in the company of the angels, visited by Christ’s disciple Maximin, who recovered and buried her body at her death. This is an odd legend from a modern American perspective, but it was a perfectly normal Catholic belief at the time, having been sanctioned by centuries of belief. It appears, for example, in the pious Golden Legend (c. 1260), the popular medieval hagiography of the lives of the saints, and can be found as far back as 1111 in Sigebert of Gembloux’s Chronicon sive Chronographia. None of these, however, made the claim Martin added to it.
In all of the Provençal legends, Mary Magdalene is accompanied by St. Maximin, a shadowy figure who shares a name with the place where the alleged relics of Mary Magdalene were discovered in Provence in the Middle Ages, at the Church of St. Maximin. He is a local figure in Provence, unknown elsewhere, but said to have been among Christ’s seventy-two disciples (Luke 10:1) and to have accompanied the Magdalene to Aix. His supposed tomb stands beside that of the Magdalene, and has been taken as evidence that Christians in Provence venerated this figure since the early Middle Ages. However, this Maximin is likely a fabrication, conflated with and possibly originating in the legend of Maximin of Trier, who lived two centuries later. The story of his supposed visitation of the Magdalene in the wilderness and burial of her corpse in Provence closely parallels the Eastern tale of Zosimus of Palestine and Mary of Egypt, which is attested centuries before the version with Maximin and the Magdalene. St. Sophronius wrote of Mary of Egypt and Zosimus in the 630s CE, but the Magdalene-Maximin version does not appear until the 1110s, after the start of the Crusades and the influx of Eastern legends into the West.
Martin, however, disagrees and attributes to this local legend a much greater import, and denies any plagiarism from Eastern sources. Martin chooses to claim that Maximin is the love child of the Magdalene and Christ. He cites no source for this, but instead he derives the entirety of his argument from the saint’s name:
…in an outburst of maternal satisfaction, she wrapped her son in the glorious halo of his father with one of the only Latin words of which she knew the meaning, naming him “Maximin.” Maximin, from “Maximinus,” means: “descended from that which is the greatest in the world”; it means the son of a man great beyond all expression; in a word, the little one of the great one.
It sounds a little better in French, but no better supported. That’s the whole argument for a Holy Bloodline: Maximin’s name suggests the “son of the Great One” (literally, the -inus suffix would mean “belonging to” and maximus “the greatest”), so he must be Jesus’ son! That was disappointing by any measure, but as the first effort to imagine a Holy Bloodline and a son of Christ, it’s especially laughable.
3/21/2016 01:24:35 pm
The legends of Mary Magdalene originated out of disputes relating to her relics, themselves obvious frauds.
3/21/2016 01:26:30 pm
Marina Warner was the first to recognise this in her review of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" in 1982.
3/21/2016 01:35:17 pm
Jacobus de Voraigne mentioned that Mary Magdalene was "wedded to John the Evangelist".
3/21/2016 01:25:55 pm
But if Maximin's alleged tomb bears his name, spelled with the Hooked X™.....
3/21/2016 01:47:39 pm
Wasn't Sarah supposed to be the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene?
3/21/2016 02:21:25 pm
Proposed by Margaret Starbird, detracted by Margaret Starbird -- but not before bundles of stuff was published about this fantasy.
3/21/2016 03:12:42 pm
>>>Martin was apparently the first to make it when he published his book in 1887<<<
3/21/2016 03:16:26 pm
Did Jesus Christ Marry and Father Children?
3/21/2016 03:32:39 pm
More info here
3/21/2016 03:54:44 pm
Early Mormons claiming Christ was a polygamist. Now there's a surprise.
3/21/2016 04:44:34 pm
I covered that in an earlier blog post.
3/21/2016 05:52:59 pm
The idea that there was some sort of sexual relationship, if not marriage, between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is actually fairly old. I am not referring to the Gnostic version of the relationship which, aside from one recent extremely dubious "source", talks about Mary Magdalene being Jesus' most important disciple, which is not the same as a wife or sexual partner. Instead I am referring to the brief mention of such a belief by Peter de Les Vaux-de-Cernay in his History of the Albigensian Crusade written in the early 13th century.
3/21/2016 10:29:35 pm
And the bizarre alliance of Zionists, Fundamentalists, an the Militiary
3/22/2016 12:25:06 am
i like Jefferson Airplane's version of Mary Magdalene's son in "The Son of Jesus."
3/22/2016 08:00:53 am
Since we're discussing a sexual union between two people who cannot be proven to have even existed any story about them is equally plausible. Now I don't want to go ruffling an feathers here, but when I was cleaning out the attic in my Grandmother's house after she died I discovered a dusty book outlining in great detail how the last supper was actually a full on Roman style orgy and 11 of the 12 disciples all took turns with Mary Magdalene, not to mention the fun they had with the fair maidens waiting on them hand and foot. Of course this all had to be cleaned up by Leonardo in his famous painting. Mary did get pregnant, but nobody knew who the father was, except they all knew it was not Judas because Mary didn't like him, that's why he turned Jesus in, pure jealousy because Mary liked Jesus the most. Judas was planning on using the money to buy a night with Mary, but she fled to France where she gave birth to a son.
3/22/2016 11:43:03 pm
Although Jesus can't be proven to have existed, Mary not only existed, she and Peter and Paul brought smiles to millions over the five decades they were together, with their message of peace, love, and magic dragons.
3/23/2016 08:25:11 am
Thanks, I needed that this morning. Didn't they leave on a jet plane?
3/23/2016 02:20:21 pm
I assume that's how Mary got to heaven.
3/22/2016 04:13:23 pm
The Last Temptation of Christ was also a fictional representation of this bloodline thing, and like the others, fiction, not canon. As for the holy orgy crack, that is from Hair. The song about the holy orgy Kama Sutra is in that play and movie, but not biblical. Also the use of drugs might have led to these elaborate stories, and a little wish fulfillment fantasy. Se,, look at how this ancient dude is an heir to 'royalty' or to Christ, or something, and it happens to be an ancestor of the author. Right.
3/23/2016 07:25:05 am
Gee, that's some great work there, Mr Time Machine. <applauds very slowly> You sure showed that Colavito fellow.
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