There are a lot of online articles about the recent discovery of a piece of papyrus written in Coptic that indicates Jesus had a wife. I’ve decided to add my own blog post to remind us that this type of discussion would not be permitted in some other religions.
The fact that the information comes out of Harvard Divinity School indicates that the subject is open for a civilized discussion and reinforces the fact that Christianity isn’t likely to topple on its foundations.
As reported by many, a fragment of papyrus written in Coptic and dating back to the fourth century has been found by a Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King, which appears to indicate that Christ was married. The translation, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife’…she will be able to be my disciple.
The papyrus, about the size of a business card, has not yet been date tested, King and other scholars are confident that it is authentic I have read several books on discussions on the early church and this find is certainly not the first time that early Christian artifacts have contradicted history as it was written in the Bible.
“Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim,” King said at a conference in Rome on Tuesday. “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. 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.”
The idea that Jesus was not married actually forms the steadfast belief in the practice of celibacy among Roman Catholic priests.
Because the text is written in the language of the time, scholars believe the text comes from Egyptian Coptic Christians before the year 400 and came from a codex and not a scroll. The scholars also believe the document is a translation of an earlier one that was likely written in Greek. We should also remember that the King James Version of the Bible was translated from Aramaic, to Greek, to Latin, then Elizabethan English.
If you’d like to read a draft of Karen L. King’s article about the gospel papyrus click on The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: A New Coptic Gospel Papyrus.
Click on Harvard Divinity School to read an interesting Q and A section.
I found The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels an interesting read, as well as, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala by Karen L. King. Click on the graphics below to learn more: