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Not a Misprint

Papyrus Fragment Indicates There May Have Been a Mrs. Christ

According to a mysterious piece of papyrus discovered by Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King, eternal presumed bachelor Jesus may actually have been married. [INSERT OBLIGATORY DAN BROWN/THE DA VINCI CODE REFERENCE HERE] The business card-sized fragment has on it eight incomplete lines of writing plus a few words and letters amidst other too-damaged-to-read text, but the phrase that’s causing all the buzz is this one: “Jesus said to them, my wife.”

Though it’s referred to in academic circles as “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” the fragment—which scholars believe dates from the fourth century, i.e. centuries after Jesus would have died—sheds less light on the possible identity of Jesus’ possible wife than it illuminates (haha, manuscript jokes) goings-on in the early Christian church. Explains King, “From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry, but it was over a century after Jesus’s death before they began appealing to Jesus’ marital status to support their positions.” (Am I the only one wondering what fourth-century WWJD bracelets would look like? Yes? No?) The fragment could well come from a piece of really, really old fanfiction, with the author writing Jesus as married to support their position that marriage is A-OK, and ladies are fine, Jesus was even married to one of ‘em!

“The discovery of this new gospel,” King continues,

“offers an occasion to rethink what we thought we knew by asking what role claims about Jesus’ marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family. Christian tradition preserved only those voices that claimed Jesus never married. The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife now shows that some Christians thought otherwise.”

Though it’s not exactly a once-in-a-lifetime thing for an ancient piece of papyrus to be discovered that adds to—or complicates—our understanding of Biblical history, this particular discovery is pretty interesting (to me, anyways) in that it challenges the traditional Biblical view of woman’s relationship to man. Journalist Michael D’Antonio, in a blog for The Huffington Post, puts it like this:

“Beyond internal Catholic Church politics, a married Jesus invites a reconsideration of orthodox teachings about gender and sex. If Jesus had a wife, then there is nothing extra Christian about male privilege, nothing spiritually dangerous about the sexuality of women, and no reason for anyone to deny himself or herself a sexual identity.”

Not that the fragment changes the Bible you’ll find on the shelves at Barnes & Noble at all—but it’s still pretty neat that things like this keep popping up. And I kind of like the fanfic theory, myself.

(via: The Huffington Post)

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  • Bill Olander

    Don’t the fans deserve some Jesus on Judas RPS?

    My theory on Jesus has always been that Mrs. Christ (and possibly the kids) were refrigeratored. How else are you going to give the male super-hero enough angst to go out preaching up and down Lake Tiberias.

  • Meg P. W.

    Unless I’m not remembering correctly, the “fanfic theory” you mentioned could be true, according to Bart D. Ehrman, the author of “Misquoting Jesus”. He says that when the Bible was first being transcribed, people who believed in certain things (like, say, that Christ was man only, and not a deity) would alter the scriptures slightly to agree with their own beliefs during transcription. There were lots of issues like these that weren’t settled until a consensus was reached by the First Council of Nicaea, so there was plenty of time for scribes to accidentally (or intentionally) add or omit words or phrases (or heck, make typoes!).

  • Anonymous

    Two monks are transcribing a copy of the Bible. A younger monk asks, “What happens if the last guy made a mistake? We’d be copying a mistake too. Shouldn’t we check an older copy for reference?”
    The older monk agreed it was a good idea, and would look into it.
    Two weeks later in the library, the young monk heard weeping. Following the sound, he we deep into the stacks and found the older monk slumped on the floor, an ancient tome in his lap, tears, streaming down his cheeks.
    He looked up and said “It says, ‘celebrate’…”

  • Anonymous

    for Jesus to be considered a Prophet, he would have to be married. (bible 101) I was under the impression that the wedding was his own, thus allowing him to be a Prophet.

  • Chris Daly

    The really interesting part is that the remainder of the quote looks to be “…take her, please.”

  • Kim Pittman

    It’s funny, I went to a Christian College (they gave me the largest scholarship) and we were required to take Old and New Testament classes. During the New Testament class, our teacher actually said he was just waiting for the scrolls to turn up that talked about Jesus’ wife. Jesus, after all, was a good Jewish boy. At 30+ he would not only have been married to a wife, but also had several children.

    It was very important to their faith to marry and reproduce.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly (on Nicea as well as the mistakes).
    A text that far removed from the original events has to be suspect. If I recall that was one of the main points of the First Council of Nicea, that different groups were writing their own works on faith and without a canonical text there was no ruler to measure how accurate these works were. And by and large, most books chosen as canonical were written much
    closer to the actual events, at least as far as NT is concerned. Some of the texts were so removed time-wise that it would be like someone using the book “1776″ (published in 2005) as just as accurate account as a diary from a solider in the Continental Army.

    If you look at the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, or pretty much every other version in the original language there are going to be cases where what’s written just doesn’t make sense, some put the wrong vowel marking or thought they were being smart there is now a traditional way to read it (often put in brackets in the text or as a footnote) that differs from what’s written. Threw me for a loop when I first started learning Hebrew in college (also took a stab at Koine Greek, that didn’t go nearly as well) but you need to accept it and more on. Loads of commentaries have discussed those (whose proper is escaping me, believe it roughly translates to “written” and “spoken” but I could be way off) so it’s safe to say it is an academically accepted concept.

  • Anonymous

    The problem with that is that in mainstream Christianity, the faith which tends to be the most concerned with this topic, Jesus is not a prophet (rather Messiah) nor is marriage a requirement for the status of prophet (Elijah is considered a prophet but he was not married as far as records show).

  • Pedro da Silva

    it means to the people that “wife” refers to the loyal women to jesus not that hes married. “the VirgiN” loyal one. No one can come to the father without going threw the son.

  • Chuck Denton

    Mark Twain said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” Please include damn misguided experts to Twain’s list. A case could be made that every war ever fought was based on the belief that came from misguided experts. Remember the experts saying, Iraq has WMD’s? This time the bible scholars have found the truth, THIS TIME? Like all other truth has been cancelled. What if the location of ancient Israel is off by a few hundred miles, would the Jews and their ancient cousins, the Muslims be at peace? Who decides the text of the bible or the location of ancient cities sites but misguided experts. Our new truth says, Jesus – THE GOD, that is part of the trinity, was married. I guess the Mormon’s had it right – Jesus and the Trinity were Polygamists. Expert scholars have been speaking in tongues for a very long time, when will the followers finally see that truth?

  • Anonymous

    In the bible there are several references Jesus makes about “the church” being his bride, or his wife. Also, this was written when Christianity was being re-thinked and rewritten by Rome (not that is uncommon for what’s in the bible).

    But I am just not convinced at at all. I grew up in the church, and though I am no longer a christian, I still care about history, and I really hope they get some legitimate theologians in there to point out that the religious writings back then had a hell of a lot of symbolism. And though I hate to say it, women wouldn’t have had a whole scripture written about them.

  • Anonymous

    I feel weird needing to respond to what your teacher said, because though I was raised in the church, I am no longer a believer. But did your teacher read the part where Jesus said, in order to follow me you had to leave your wife, your children and your entire family? That was a HUUUGE no-no in ancient Jewish culture. Does that sound like a guy who is going to get married? There must have been someone in class who brought that up?

  • Souheil Bayoud

    What the garbage Gnostic writings has to do with the true gospel of salvation? And where is the good news in them? 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 writing words on a papyrus about Jesus wife.Actually Dr King is a dishonest scholar when she titled that papyrus 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 and opponents to Orthodox Christianity.

  • relmneiko

    lol u mad

  • relmneiko

    The real truth is that the Bible was written by multiple people over the course of hundreds of years and that it conflicts quite a bit and is all a mix of truth and lies, but mostly lies. Personally, I find Jesus being married to be a helluva lot more plausible than him being born of a virgin or walking on water.

  • me myself and I

    Excellent article that came out less than a week later explaining why the text itself proves that the document itself is a fake. The expert cited in the article explains how the fragment on display is copied from modern coptic texts and even cites which books they were taken from.

  • Kim Pittman

    I am no longer a believer as well.

    I actually don’t remember that part, but then the large amount of internal consistency had always weighed on me, and that class just made it worse and worse.