A Harvard Divinity School professor’s interpretation of a scrap of fourth-century Egyptian papyrus that quotes Jesus Christ making reference to a wife could stoke new debates to the role of women in Christianity, theologians say.
Professor Karen L. King was at the Vatican yesterday to discuss the artifact — a tiny, rectangular slice of ancient paper with just a few lines of script that the school is calling “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”
“In this fourth-century fragment of a book, written in the Coptic language, we have a new, previously unknown gospel. Eight lines on the front, six lines on the back,” she said in a video statement released by Harvard. “The most exciting line on the whole fragment, however, is the sentence: Jesus said to them — to His disciples, that is — ‘My wife.’”
King, who has declined to identify the item’s owner, insists it’s not actual evidence that Christ took a bride. The ragged scrap is believed to have been translated into the Egyptian Coptic dialect from an earlier Greek text. She said she believes it provides a window into debates that early Christians were having about whether they themselves should marry.
“Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim,” King said. “This new gospel doesn’t prove that Jesus was married, but it tells us that the whole question only came up as part of vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage.”
The find has fascinated theological scholars.
“I’m just really excited about this,” said retired Boston University religion professor Paula Fredriksen, a scholar of the historical Jesus now teaching at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “It’s neat. It’s honest-to-God new data. How often does that happen?”
Fredriksen said the text has both historical value and modern application.
“It’s making a radical claim for women’s ability to be followers of Jesus — partners, really,” Fredriksen said. “No text gives you its own interpretation. If I were the Pope, I would look at this and say it certainly doesn’t mean women can be ordained. And if I were in a church where women were ordained, I would say, ‘See, I told you so.’ ”
She and others agreed with King, however, that the document doesn’t prove Christ took a bride. Its historical value is limited to what it says about the person who wrote it — not the people referenced in the writing.
Peter Davis of the Anglican Association for Biblical Studies called the information on the papyrus scrap “serious historical information” of that early Christian debate.
They married young, arranged marriages were the norm and his parents would have been neglecting their duties if they did not arrange it. He would have been an undutiful son if he did not marry the woman of his parents choice.
Those were the times he lived in and so yes I think he was married and no amount of official teaching would convince me otherwise.
This is assuming he was a real person, but if he was... He was Jewish, why wouldn't he get married? The idea of celibate prophets didn't even come around until 10th Century AD and by a Pope to control the clergy that was off the hook at that time, it was all pretty debauched.
Regardless whether he was real or not and Josephus suggests he was real. If he was called Rabbi then he had to have a wife. Perhaps a prophet didn't, but a rabbi did. I've read the Bible and as many of the "found" non-biblical books that I can afford...and some I borrowed. Still sound like he was married and some of his disciples were not happy about that. Wonder if we can blame the unmarried concept on Paul?
So ummm we base our beliefs on suggestions, gossip, and symbolic insertions? I mean, really. Story telling is just that. I love the tales of the Brothers Grimm, and it doesn't make me believe that Hansel and Gretal grew up to be witch hunters, but I'll pay to see the film :P
I see that you're a skeptic. That's okay, freedom of thought is my way of thinking. But, the question was about the possibility of Jesus being married. If Jesus was a real person, the the possibility is very high.
The Brothers Grimm will wrote some "dark" tales. But, I do like them. It was the dark ages after all. :-)
Naturally skeptical yes, why should I accept any information at face value? I did posit that if he were real, as a Jew he would most likely get married. Possible, yes.
The tales come from the cultural folklore, so... Should we accept these tales at face value to be factual events?
Sin...are you saying you don't believe in the tooth fairy? AWE, you're no fun. Nearly all legends started in some sort of face. A lot of the fairy tails probably started in superstition...but they could have some fact. Probably not provable.
Funny you should say that... See: The Occultism of Teeth
There's always been a 'messiah' archetype in nearly every culture. It's spirit vs. the material, always has been, always will be.
This is why Eastern Philosophy often gets lost in the West.
All rabbis had to be married by age 30.
Yes, some gospels never made it into the bible.. such as the gospel of Thomas and Mary Magdalene ..
I also hold the belief that he was married, it would have been in custom with Jewish law at the time he lived..
This would certainly fit into the history discussion that is also going on. The history of how the books in the Bible were chosen seems to show they were picked to "prove" the doctrines being taught at that time...300 years after the time of Jesus.