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-Re: ‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’

by Dr. D ~ September 20th, 2012

From NY Times:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

<Read the whole article>


Translation by Karen L. King:

not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe]

The disciples said to Jesus

deny. Mary is worthy
of it

Jesus said to them,
“My wife

she will be able to
be my disciple

Let wicked people
swell up

As for me, I dwell with her in order to

Response: When one looks at this tiny scrap of script one is tempted to say- ‘Is that all there is?’ I read the NY Times article on Tuesday and sort of dismissed it as interesting but a lot hype over very little and really had no intention of writing about it. After all there was really nothing new here. The text reflected previous gnostic texts from the 2-4th century. None of it really had anything to do with the historical Jesus or his followers in the first century.

Then yesterday while I was driving down the freeway a radio newscaster excitedly announced that there was a new discovery of a new ‘gospel’ where Jesus talks about having a wife. It is not Easter or even Christmas but here comes another gleeful main stream media attack on Christianity and its basic teachings.

Well the entire so-called ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ and its translation is shown above. While it may be interesting and important to historians and early Christian scholars the new text really should not affect the faith of Christians nor the teaching of the church. Here’s why:

1. The Document is from the 4th century

2. The text is in 4th century Coptic

3. The text reflects other Gnostic gospels from the 2nd-4th century

The most important fact to keep in mind considering this so-called ‘gospel’ is the fact that it was written in the 4th century in Coptic and does not record or reflect anything that the historical Jesus might have said 3oo years earlier. None of the gospels or writings of the followers of Jesus who really knew him back up the idea that Jesus may have had a wife.

In fact if you read other more balanced articles about this ‘gospel’ discovery, Karen L. King herself makes a point of saying that it does not really record anything that the historical Jesus might have said but reflects the developing teaching of a gnostic Christian group beginning in the middle of the 2nd century.

So much for the loud and ignorant MSM hype. Maybe we Christians should storm Harvard and all of the media headquarters over this ‘blasphemy’ of Jesus? Just kidding!              *Top

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5 Responses to -Re: ‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’

  1. tbarrelier

    If Jesus was married, so what? Would that have made him any less than He was? No one claims Jesus never ate, nor drank, nor slept, nor bathed, nor engaged in other “biological” functions we all, as humans, share. If Jesus had a wife and had sex with her, so what? How would that have made him any less for having shared that particular biological function as well? Why would anyone deny His being fully human? Why would Jesus’s making love with His wife disprove his purity? Is not Love greater than lust? Can one not love his wife without lusting for her?

    The canon of the Gospels was not set for centuries after Jesus’s death. The four Gospels differ even about significant events in His life. Read the four narratives of the crucifixion and you will observe they are not identical. Couldn’t this apply to other events and facts of His life as well? No one has ever claimed the Gospels tell the complete, unexpurgated story of Jesus. One may be tempted to view the Gospels as history, but that is one hypothesis which is ultimately unprovable and a matter of faith, not science. The writings not included in the Gospels, the deutero-canonical works, are not to be regarded as false or of no value. Indeed, there are parts of these writings which are included in the worship services of the Orthodox Church, the oldest and most conservative of Christian denominations.

    The fact this fragment was written in Coptic means nothing in itself. Coptic was simply the language of Egypt at the time of Christ. Coptic used the Greek alphabet because hieroglyphics would have proven unworkable as the script for the Christian sacred writings and liturgy and the Fathers also wanted to break from the priestly traditions of ancient Egypt. Most likely the fragment (like the Gospel of Thomas) was a translation of a Greek original text.

    The Church has propagated an image and history of Jesus for its own purposes. I do not judge this, but I can say, out of my own personal experience, that Jesus is not limited by any of our ideas about Him, just as the Father is ultimately unlimited and indescribable. If one opens one’s mind and heart to Him, one will receive, more than one can imagine. And guess what? Some of it does not jive with Church orthodoxies! Truth is freedom and not hidebound by dogma. What the greatest saints and mystics have seen, they have not been able to communicate because it was beyond words. Many who tried to share what was revealed to them received martyrdom for their efforts. Joan of Arc is the first one who comes to mind. Meister Eckart narrowly avoided a similar fate.

    It is not a blasphemy to say Jesus had a wife. If he did, and I believe he did–Mary Magdelene–I’m sure he was the best husband humankind has ever produced!

  2. Souheil Bayoud

    What the garbage Gnostic writings has to do with the true gospel of salvation? Anything based on a lie is a lie and the liar from the beginning is well known.The Holy blood Holy grail pretend that Jesus escaped death on the cross and married Mary Magdalene.Then Da Vinci Code pretend a secret marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the real blood of the grail is inside Mary based on the painting of the last supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.Now a scholar have a wring words on a papyrus about Jesus wife.Actually Dr King id a dishonest scholar when she titled that piece in the shape of a credit card a gospel.There is a very dangerous lie about the real blood and the wife.The truth is that real and Holy blood is on Jesus forehead and not in the womb of Mary Magdalene or any other woman.This is revealed in the true story THE COIN OF THE TEMPLE by souheil bayoud.As for the wife,the impossibility of the marriage of Jesus is not and will not be revealed to disbelievers land opponents to Orthodox Christianity,the wise and the learned.However,when the feathers of an American eagle come forth on the head of that scholar I will tell her about that impossibility.

  3. Brian

    How many things are wrong with this scrap? Let me make a partial list:

    (a) It has no context. We do not know where it came from, where it was found, etc. We cannot trace its history back, nor can we link it to any known Christian/Gnostic writing.

    (b) It is too pat. If by mere happenstance a random scrap of a previously unknown Gnostic writing about Jesus was to surface, it would more likely say something mundane “Jesus sat down at the table to eat supper with his disciples”. The odds that the one scrap of a previously unknown Gnostic writing would surface that would happen to focus on probably the most controversial statement that could ever be attributed to Jesus are, well, a long shot.

    (c) The Gnostics were late. Probably the Gospel of Thomas was the first significant Gnostic writing (c 180) The scrap purportedly dates to the 4th century, making it even later. Thus, assuming this is a real scrap of a real ancient manuscript, it was written by someone with no ties to Jesus and no access to eyewitnesses (in contrast to the four canonical gospels, two of which were written by eyewitnesses and two of which were written by people with access to eyewitnesses). Thus, it has no probative value, even if it is “real”. (Put another way, we have a substantial fragment of the Gospel of John which dates to c 125, there is a Luke fragment from c 150; and there is a highly probable match between a Dead Sea Scroll fragment and the Gospel of Mark, AD 70 or earlier. We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of fragments and manuscripts of the four Canonical Gospels which date from before 400 AD, all of which builds a “paper trail” back to the time of Christ, or within a generation or so thereafter. This document has no paper trail).

    Assuming it is an old manuscript (doubtful – see above) we don’t know who wrote it, why it was written, when it was written, or even if the reference to Jesus is intended as a reference to Christ, and not to someone else named Yeshua.


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