Was Jesus married? A new, phony controversy

September 19, 2012

Wasn’t I just blogging about this very issue two weeks ago?

This time, a credit-card-sized fragment of a fourth-century papyrus that includes the words, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife,'” has supposedly reignited a “controversy” over whether or not Jesus was married. I say “re-ignite” because apparently no less a Bible scholar than Dan Brown and his scholarly tome The Da Vinci Code ignited it in the first place. (Yes, the inevitable Huffington Post article actually cites Dan Brown, as if that helps their case.) Not only that, this credit-card-sized fragment represents a full-blown, although as-yet-undiscovered, gospel, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

Even assuming the existence of such a gospel, it would have been written—like all the other weird Gnostic gospels—no earlier than the second half of the second century. Why such a gospel would be more authoritative than the four canonical gospels, not to mention the much-earlier apostolic witness behind them, is beyond me.

But don’t take my word for it. My favorite apologist blogger, Dr. Glenn Peoples, thoroughly debunks the story. The following is an excerpt. Enjoy! And enjoy thinking critically. What a wonderful gift God has given us!

Suddenly, everyone is linking to news articles about an allegedly shocking new discovery that turns our view of the historic Jesus on its head. The caption under the photo… reads: “A previously unknown scrap of ancient papyrus written in ancient Egyptian Coptic opens the debate about whether Jesus was married.”

Well actually, no it doesn’t. No new debate is opened, no important new evidence has been discovered. Business is really continuing as usual. But in the view of some, the new discovery will be of much interest, as it contains the words, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife.”

In a statement released by Harvard University, Professor Karen King says “Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim,” This appears to be a strange reversal of duty. If anyone wishes to claim that there was a woman who was married to Jesus, surely it is they who would need to provide “reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim.” What is more, the fact that all the biographical material written about Jesus, right up to this scrap in the fourth century, do not include references to him having a wife is a significant fact. Given the reverence shown in many parts of the Christian world, even from an early time, to the mother of Jesus, the natural expectation we should have is that if Jesus had been married, his wife would have been singled out as an especially important person. But the reality is that none of the accounts of the life of Jesus that we have even make reference to such a person existing – until this snippet appeared, dating from the fourth century.

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