“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”

Papyrus fragment: front. Karen L. King 2012

Remember all the fuss about Jesus having married surrounding the publication of The Da Vinci Code nearly a decade ago? Well now Harvard University Divinity professor Karen L. King has found an ancient papyrus fragment that actually refers to his having a wife. Professor King has published a paper in which she explains,

This is the only extant ancient text which explicitly portrays Jesus as referring to a wife. It does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, given the late date of the fragment and the probable date of original composition only in the second half of the second century. Nevertheless, if the second century date of composition is correct, the fragment does provide direct evidence that claims about Jesus’s marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship.

Harvard Divinity School has a Q&A page in which it provides answers to some of the obvious questions, such as:

1. Does the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife prove that Jesus was married?
2. How do we know this fragment is not a forgery?
3. What is the significance of the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife?
4. Who wrote the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife?
5. Why is the fragment called the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife?
6. What is the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife?
7. Where is the fragment from?

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  • Tchoutoye

    The papyrus is apocryphal even among the apocrypha. It’s a tiny snippet without context or real name. It could just as well be written by a non-Christian telling a blasphemous joke about Jesus H. Christ.

  • Tchoutoye

    The papyrus is apocryphal even among the apocrypha. It’s a tiny snippet without context or real name. It could just as well be written by a non-Christian telling a blasphemous joke about Jesus H. Christ.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      I’ll reserve final judgment until they find a copy of a 5th-century “Lockhorns” cartoon featuring Jesus cracking a mother-in-law joke.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      I’ll reserve final judgment until they find a copy of a 5th-century “Lockhorns” cartoon featuring Jesus cracking a mother-in-law joke.

      • Nunzio X

        If Jesus’ mother-in-law got too bothersome, he’d turn her into a Newt.

        Gingrich.

        • Matt Staggs

          You guys are killing me today. Thanks for the laughs.

      • lifobryan

        Awesome!

        Or perhaps a 2nd Century version of “Blondie & Dagwood,” where Mary Magdalene nags Jesus over his huge sandwiches of way too many loaves & fishes.

  • Matt Staggs

    Readers might also be interested in “The Holy Blood and the Holly Grail”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_Blood_and_the_Holy_Grail

  • lifobryan

    The gnostic Gospel of Judas of Kerioth portrays Jesus as bisexual, canoodling with both Mary Magdalene and his disciple John. It also describes the Last Supper as an entheogenic sacrament involving sacred plants.

  • lifobryan

    The gnostic Gospel of Judas of Kerioth portrays Jesus as bisexual, canoodling with both Mary Magdalene and his disciple John. It also describes the Last Supper as an entheogenic sacrament involving sacred plants.

    • Matt Staggs

      Wait. Are we talking about Jesus or David Bowie?

      • lifobryan

        Aren’t they the same?

        There’s a starman waiting in the sky
        He’d Like to come & meet us
        But he thinks he’d blow our minds
        There’s a starman waiting in the sky
        He told us not to blow it
        Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile

  • okOkay

    while we’re at it, did the flying spaghetti monster ever take a wife?

  • kowalityjesus

    I wonder if this was released by the Vatican because they are seriously considering reneging on the practice of a celibate clergy.  It’s been nearly a thousand years since priests could be married, and boy is the Catholic Church hurtin’ for priests.  

    I know that I’ve told more than one recruiter that I could not become a priest because I intend to reproduce.  Maybe those answers and others like it have finally changed the tune “da capo.”

    • Liam_McGonagle

      They make exceptions all the time for married Anglican priests converting to Catholicism.  Presumably this is only for the political purpose of sticking the Church’s thumb in the eye of COE.  But it is a precedent in the right general direction.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      They make exceptions all the time for married Anglican priests converting to Catholicism.  Presumably this is only for the political purpose of sticking the Church’s thumb in the eye of COE.  But it is a precedent in the right general direction.

      • kowalityjesus

        I’ve heard of this, clergy from other religions being able to keep their wives when converting to Catholicism, but with the addendum that their congregation has to come with them.  Perhaps its just to discourage people from becoming preachers, marrying, then converting just to be a married priest.  Of course the diaconate was restored in 1967, so clergy CAN be married but cannot celebrate Mass.

      • kowalityjesus

        I’ve heard of this, clergy from other religions being able to keep their wives when converting to Catholicism, but with the addendum that their congregation has to come with them.  Perhaps its just to discourage people from becoming preachers, marrying, then converting just to be a married priest.  Of course the diaconate was restored in 1967, so clergy CAN be married but cannot celebrate Mass.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    one theory that has been around for several hundred years now
    is that Jesus was a fictional character used by a number of authors
    to write theologically oriented stories, aphorisms & novellas
    (kinda like the James Bond character is used today, but with other agendas)
    some speculate the Q document as a source of basic material from which to riff

    hence the various stories of Jesus as married, gay, off to India, etc
    even Joseph Smith used this idea to create Moronism

    probably the reason so many people have failed to find the historical Jesus
    is because there isn’t one

    • lifobryan

      Many scholars feel that there probably was a historical Jesus – an itinerant Jewish charismatic healer & teacher. Tales & legends eventually merged with the mythology of Solar Deity – a gospel propagated by St. Paul, and ultimately doctrinized at the Council of Nicea.

    • lifobryan

      Many scholars feel that there probably was a historical Jesus – an itinerant Jewish charismatic healer & teacher. Tales & legends eventually merged with the mythology of Solar Deity – a gospel propagated by St. Paul, and ultimately doctrinized at the Council of Nicea.

      • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

        unfortunately for rationalists
        there is no evidence whatsoever that he ever lived
        no archeological evidence
        no historical record evidence
        nada, nunca, zip
        the only thing extant are the “gospels”
        the four canonical & dozens of apocryphal
        so all the so-called evidence is created by the cult of Jesus

        on the other hand,
        we know a lot about &
        have a lot of historical evidence for Tiberius
        who was the Roman Emperor in the Jesus story

        • lifobryan

          True – and believe me I’m not an evangelist for historical Jesus. If he did exist, I suspect modern day Christians would probably hate him. (He would have been Jewish). 

          I’ve researched a few Saint stories – and found what I think is a parallel. Some of the more colorful saints were figures popular for one reason or another, with no relation whatsoever to the stories told about them. The stories have much more to do with the surrounding culture. But a “revered” figure is a prime target for projection of cultural values & mythology.

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