Est. May 2008

23 September, 2012

The Married Jesus Shred

Figured I’d throw in my two-cents on this whole thing.


Okay, so. Professor Karen King of Harvard announces to the world that she’s been given a scrap of papyrus with some Coptic words, written with Greek letters, which claim to say Jesus spoke about having a wife.

This scrap is the size of a credit card. It holds eight lines which translate out to say:
1) “not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe] … ”
2) The disciples said to Jesus, “
3) deny. Mary is worthy of it
4) ” Jesus said to them, “My wife
5) she will be able to be my disciple
6) Let wicked people swell up
7) As for me, I dwell with her in order to
8) an image
The writing is consistent (according to some scholars who’ve looked at it) with third or fourth-century writings (AD 200-300), though Professor King thinks it might be a copy of something written in the mid-second-century. No chemical analysis has been done on the ink, though a spectrographic analysis is planned.

Professor King is careful to remind her readers that this scrap isn’t definitive in regards to Jesus’ marital status, yet she’s dubbed it ‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’, a rather sensational claim which pretty much every writer who’s writing about this has touted.

Is it a forgery? Depends on what you mean when you say ‘forgery’. It could very well be a third/fourth-century scrap of papyrus with writing on it, rather than a ‘modern’ fake.

Is it a third/fourth-century copy of a mid-second-century manuscript? There’s no way to tell.

Is it a true account of dialogue between Jesus and His disciples? Again, there’s no way to tell.

There’s no way to tell who wrote it, or why it was written.

We do know that during the late first century a school of religious learning which became known as Gnosticism was beginning to grow (it seems the apostle John wrote against it in his epistles), and that in the third/fourth-century Gnosticism flourished for a time (the Gnostic ‘Gospels’ and other writings from Nag Hammadi are examples of this). It’s possible this is a scrap from one of those, or from some other Gnostic writing.

The simple fact is that, for all the hype, this little scrap of papyrus tells us almost nothing which would have much impact on Christianity or the church.

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