The Jesus Wife Gospel Resources

On Thursday, my local newspaper ran a quarter-page article on the translation of a newly translated approximately 3rd Century papyrus which quotes Jesus as referring to "my wife." Needless to say, if Jesus had a wife, that would be news to most of church history where there is almost nothing supporting such an idea other than a few heretical texts.

But, of course, that is the question regarding the Jesus Wife Gospel (which, given the fact that it is only a fragment of a work that may be very short, should not be called a Gospel at all). Is it an heretical text or is it something worth reading? In saying, "my wife", was Jesus (if he really did utter those words) referring to his bride, the church, or to an earthly wife?

Rob Bowman on his Religious Researcher blog, has published a page which he plans to keep updated with resources both in favor of and counter the authenticity of the Jesus Wife Gospel. You can find the resource here: Karen King's Jesus Wife Papyrus. There are a number of really good articles linked (and some of the articles linked also contain links to other resources.)

My favorite article of the ones I have read so far is No, People, a 4th Century Scrap Doesn’t Prove Jesus Had a Wife which concludes with this well-written non-conclusion:

Actually the only thing it shows is that one (potential) Christian writing in Coptic in a document that is incomplete may or may not have been referring to a tradition concerning Jesus that was held by only himself or perhaps a handful of others.
In short, what it shows is that even now, when people should know better, they still are more than willing to say more than can honestly and confidently be said.

Addendum: I found a follow-up article by Rob Bowman that makes the case against Jesus being married. It can be found here: Was Jesus Married? The Historical Evidence


I have yet to hear any scholar,including the one who discovered it, say it means Jesus had a wife. No one thinks it does mean that. I'm just waiting to see what the Mythers or new atheist try to build it into.
BK said…
The newspaper article I read made it sound as if this was strong evidence supporting wacko theories like The DaVinci Code. They tried to make it sound as if the reference to "my wife" and "Mary in the same fragment means that the Mary in the text may have been Jesus' wife. So, if people come to that conclusion, I wouldn't be surprised.
Jason Pratt said…
Heh, Jim West (from your favorite article) is typically a riot anyway. {g} Good choice.

Dan Wallace's breakdown of the currently known facts about the text is quite a good summary.

One especially interesting fact is that there is not actually any context for which "Mary" is being referenced or even who is referencing or why. The phrase "Mary is worthy of it" is preceded by a term for "deny", and I will suppose Sahidic Coptic grammarians are the ones who have decided by the morphology of the word that it must be the end of a preceding sentence or clause, with "Mary is worth of it" starting a next statement, but really there's barely anything to suggest the actual meaning of what was written.

(Readers should keep in mind that I'm not only someone who wouldn't mind if Jesus had been married, to MaryMag or MaryBeth or whoever--and who thinks those two names probably refer to the same woman by the way--but who actively theorizes that MaryBeth was strongly though very sincerely propositioning Jesus as her husband in the anointing scene of Passover week in the canonical Gospels! Though Jesus kindly redirects her proposition to something more proper for His situation while accepting the good intention behind it.)

Jason Pratt said…
Also worth keeping in mind: Dr. King herself, although the chief scholarly promoter of the fragment's authenticity per se (i.e. it was written in ancient times by whoever for whatever purpose), and despite being not exactly the flag-carrier for conservative Christianity (or any Christianity at all, to say the least), DOES NOT THINK THE FRAGMENT HAS ANY HISTORICAL VALUE FOR STUDIES ABOUT JESUS HIMSELF!

So far <a href=">>only James Tabor,</a> of Jesus Tomb infamy, is the only actual Biblical scholar who has tried to get on <i>that</i> bandwagon among scholars. Not too surprisingly.

But since I'm around anyway {g}: have we heard anything more about the supposed 1st-century GosMark fragment that was going to be released this year, Bill?

Jason Pratt said…

I would be hilariously amused if the Mythers tried to build anything out of it at all, since its only remotely positive value would be if it somehow testified to an actual fact about a historically real Jesus!

But I could see people trying to come up with a Mythic spin on a dare. "As this fragment demonstrates, the third to seventh centuries were a time when Christians had so little agreement at even trying to promote a real-life 'history' for their mythical figure, that some Christians thought he was married!"

I've often wondered what the Mythers would do if they had a choice between something really condemning of Jesus but it would mean admitting he existed. If they find a manuscript that said something like "Jesus of Naz who admitted he was not the Messiah." they would have to choose between their pet theory and their real objective.

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