A “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” on a Coptic Papyrus

Bible and archaeology news

An Early Reference to Jesus’ Wife

Christian tradition holds that Jesus was not married. While the New Testament never mentions Jesus’ wife, it never explicitly states that he is not married. On Tuesday, September 18th, 2012, early Christianity scholar Karen L. King of the Harvard Divinity School announced the discovery of a Coptic papyrus fragment that includes the text “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’”

This early Christian Coptic papyrus includes an early reference to Jesus' wife, whose existence is never explicitly stated or denied in the New Testament. Photograph by Karen L. King

King has made it clear that this fourth-century “previously unknown gospel” does not imply that Jesus had a wife; instead, if authentic, the text reveals that an early Christian population believed that Jesus was married. King posits that the Coptic fragment is a translation of a late second-century Greek gospel. Interestingly, the earliest extant claim that Jesus was not married was recorded by Clement of Alexandra around 200 C.E.. These nearly contemporaneous yet divergent early Christian texts reveal that the extended debate on Jesus’ wife, his celibacy and Christian behavior dates back to an earlier period than previously believed.

Understanding the Coptic Papyrus

The 1.5 x 3in Coptic papyrus fragment contains 8 lines on the front and six on the back. While the newly announced text is shrouded by a sea of unanswered questions—the original provenience is unknown and the owner of the collection has asked to remain anonymous—King consulted scholars from esteemed institutions including the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, Princeton University, the Harvard Theological Review and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who verify the text’s authenticity.

King unveiled the discovery at Tuesday’s 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome and the announcement immediately attracted the media’s attention, which will undoubtedly lead to further testing. While the faded ink, the grammar and handwriting appear authentic, King plans to conduct spectrometry and further analysis on the papyrus’ date and authenticity.

The Galilee is one of the most evocative locales in the New Testament—the area where Jesus was raised and where many of the Apostles came from. Our free eBook, The Galilee Jesus Knew, focuses on several aspects of Galilee: how Jewish the area was in Jesus’ time, the ports and the fishing industry that were so central to the region, and several sites where Jesus likely stayed and preached.

Mary Magdalene as a Disciple

The passage “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” is not the only revealing text in this Coptic papyrus fragment. Another clause says “she will be able to be my disciple.” Other phrases include “My mother gave to me life” and “Mary is worthy of it.”

Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School examines what she describes as "a new gospel." The text does not prove the existence of Jesus’ wife; instead, it shows that an early Christian population believed that he was married.

Dan Brown caught the public’s attention with sensational stories of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ wife. What was her role in the New Testament? Three of the four canonical gospels only mention her in connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Only Luke mentions Mary Magdalene in connection with Jesus’ life, where she follows Jesus, spreading word of his deeds from town to town.

King dated the original composition of this “new gospel” by a comparison with similarly phrased Gnostic gospels including the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip. The Gospel of Philip provides some insightful clues into the relationship of Mary and Jesus. In the article “Did Jesus Marry?,”* Birger A. Pearson analyzes Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Philip. While Dan Brown used the restored text, “And the companion of the Savior was Mary Magdalene. The Savior loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth” to suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, Pearson points out that:

More importantly, immediately following the first passage quoted above, Jesus goes on to explain Mary’s special role in terms of her capacity to receive his instruction—and not her sex appeal. When, in the Gospel of Philip, the disciples ask Jesus why he loves Mary more than them, Jesus responds, “Why do I not love you like her?” He then answers his own question: “When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”1 Jesus is suggesting that he favors Mary because she is like a sighted person compared with the dullard male disciples, who are like blind men. Thus, Mary’s “companionship” is spiritual rather than physical.

King’s “new gospel” may provide a more explicit indication that some early Christian communities believed that Jesus was married, and moreover, that Mary Magdalene was his wife. While the fragment’s date several centuries after the life of Jesus precludes contemporaneous evidence of the historical Jesus, the discovery may greatly further our understanding of early Christian perception of marriage and the New Testament.

Read more in The New York Times

Read more from the Harvard Divinity School

In the BAS DVD set Lost Christianities, Bible scholars Charles Hedrick, April DeConick and James Tabor deliver 12 lectures that take you on a fascinating journey to rediscover the texts of forgotten gospels, the mysteries of Gnostic beliefs, and some of the most important people in Jesus’ life.


* Pearson, Birger A. “Did Jesus Marry?.” Bible Review, Spring 2005, 32-39, 47.



Karen L. King describes the new find in a video originally posted on Harvard’s youtube page.

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  1. Paul says


    Another “scholar” looking to make a splash plays on the emotions of those who are not aware of all the goofy stuff one can find in Coptic/Gnostic Egyptian writings from the 4th century, C.E.

    I thought Elaine Pagels had played this all out years ago….

  2. Catherine says

    Dear Bible Arche..If you were a Christian now or in those days, or a disciple of Christ, you would have known exactly what Jesus was talking about. His Christians/Disciples ARE His “wife.” Once you are saved and accept Jesus into your life, you are ONE with Him, just like a husband and wife, you become one with the body of Christ, which He calls His “Bride”. He even tells us that we are His disciples when we become His, to spread this gospel (good news) to others. Don’t you, when you are in love? He uses this like a simple parable. Why can’t people grasp even that from Scripture? It was the beginning of the Christian faith when He resurrected, and the TRUE church of Christ, which He called His “Bride” that stays true to His Word to the END.. He even calls other religions whores that change and write their “own jesus”..do you understand? So this may well be authentic but the people in this article and who is writing this article have cheapened and perversed the precious saving grace of Jesus Christ into blaspheme once again. I would hate to be in their places when He comes to get His “Bride” for the Marriage Supper! Which is also in Scripture! Accept Jesus as your Saviour, and you too will renew your mind and not conform to this sick world..

  3. Joan says

    Of course Jesus was married. All Jewish men of his age were expected to marry by 30. So what? There may have even been children. It was corruption of the early church the made Mary Magdeline a prostitute and persecuted women.
    That doesn’t take away from his teachings. What is wrong with you people anyway?

  4. Randa says

    why is this piece of papyrus called a ‘gospel’ – where exactly is the good news?
    I second Paul, (presuming this discovery is from coptic literature) my background is Coptic – and certainly wouldn’t consider some of their literature consistent with biblical testimony.

  5. Michelle says

    Sensationalism at it’s best. The translation is companion or partner, and in light of the context, He is referring to her understanding of the gospel message. She got it, and he is telling his disciples they didn’t.

  6. Raymond says

    Every fall and every spring, there’s yet another fragmentary scrap of papyrus or tomb leading up to a TV show with companion book that attempts to debunk Christianity, while making money for the promoters. I’m grateful that Dr. King is at least circumspect about the claims, even if the press is not.

  7. joe says

    I have a feeling we’ve seen this Jesus scroll business before, starting with the Jesus Scroll, (Donovan Joyce) stolen from Yadin on Masada in the 60′s, last seen in the toilets of the Ben Gurion airport. Story reappears again in Cross Bones by North Carolinas K. Reichs, yes UNC-Charlotte in which one of the BAR Crowd is twice listed as an archaeologist. He is not, nor is she.

  8. J ROBERT WELLS says

    Jesus is God! He is the Son of God and the “son of man” – 100% each.
    Jesus being God did/does not need a wife. He is complete in Himself being God. Humans like to imagine all kinds of things – Jesus having a wife is just another one. If Jesus had sexual relations, that would make him carnal, and 1 Peter 2:21-22 says He is without sin. Read all of the Gospel of John!

  9. Joseph says

    If the the text is authentic the context would decide if this conclusion is accurate, “King has made it clear that this fourth-century “previously unknown gospel” does not imply that Jesus had a wife; instead, if authentic, the text reveals that an early Christian population believed that Jesus was married.”

    If authentic the reference of a “wife” may be a reference to the Church as his “wife” or “bride” if the translation is off. For certain the Church can be seen as a “disciple” of Christ.

    In addition, if the text is found to be authentically dated, the source of the doctrine would have to be tested and weighed with the doctrine of the Apostles. THAT is the real test of authenticity.

  10. jim says

    The fragmentary nature of this “gospel” makes it impossible to interpret.

    It is torn from it’s context.

    The end and perhaps the beginnings of each of the lines are missing.

    So, before people go off in a lather in either direction they need to sit down and consider all that is missing before they come to any conclusions about what it really says or means.

  11. Jim says

    Every freshman archaeology, history, and theology major should know that Gnostic writers in the 2nd through 4th centuries mirrored their writings somewhat similar to Christianity. Many things were added to these writing that simply were not true. The Apostles NEVER supported any claim of Jesus being married. Early Christians quickly disregarded the Gnostic lies that some today contend are Lost Gospels. The only thing lost is an understanding of Christianity and history.

  12. Simon says

    Naive thinking and naive scholarship of Archaeology may happen if studies have not carefully researched and studied. A Coptic fragment of Archaeology does not have enough evidence and full meaning that Jesus had been married or had a wife. There is a big difference between a fragment of Archaeology and the true and real life of Jesus and his marvelous teachings adopted by his followers, apostles, disciples.
    Furthermore, what Jesus identified himself very clearly how Jesus lived his life, ““Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt.8:20; Luke 9:58)
    Jesus was teaching and preaching with authority and power (Mark 1:21-34). Simon Nguyen (Scripture Student)

  13. JAllan says

    Without knowing whether Jesus actually had a wife, it is worth knowing that the Christian community DID NOT CARE to record that information until about 150, just as they DID NOT CARE to speculate about the circumstances of his birth until well after Paul had spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean basin, and at least one Gospel book, Mark, and possibly the lost Q, had been circulated (which is why Matthew and Luke have contradictory Nativity stories). So, is it blasphemy to suggest that a first century unofficial rabbi, in a society where OF COURSE every good man would be married, followed that custom?

    Actual wife of Jesus? No evidence one way or another.
    Belief that Jesus could not have been married? 2nd half of 2nd century.
    Belief that Jesus WAS married? Possibly the same era.
    Controversy? Probably started the same time.
    Winner? The not-married, celibate viewpoint, which has made us think that what almost all rabbis do was somehow unthinkable for one who “suffered as all men” (even in a good marriage, there are a FEW moments of suffering) and has been called the first Reform rabbi by some modern Jews.

    Incidentally, in those days marriage was not expected to be passionately romantic in all cases. If a girl with ideas ahead of her time, a precursor of Yentl, cannot be matched by her parents with any man in the village, and is brought to the traveling preacher to be “exorcised”, and He sees that she is spiritually advanced, then agrees to “marry” her to free her from the tyranny of a backward family and allow her to travel and study Torah with Him, does that violate what we believe about Jesus, or reinforce His mercy and compassion? Something like that COULD have happened to bring Mary Magdalene into the group of disciples, but again there is no evidence either way.

    So, the discovery is not blasphemy. Like any scientific discovery, it may be picked up by those who do NOT bother to get all the details, and hyped with misleading publicity. This does not change the fact of the discovery, or its value to those who DO study it more carefully.

  14. JAllan says

    The Nativity stories show the same principle at work; read the stories in Matthew and Luke, asking:

    Where did Joseph and Mary live when they were betrothed, Nazareth or Bethlehem?

    Was Jesus born in their family home, or on the road?

    Did they go from Bethlehem “back” to their home in Nazareth, or leave their home in Bethlehem to spend a few years in Egypt then MOVE to Nazareth?

    If they lived in Nazareth and returned there, why would they have considered, then rejected, “returning” to Bethlehem after the death of Herod? Or couldn’t they have gone DIRECTLY to Nazareth to escape the persecution?

    If they lived in Bethlehem and went to Egypt, then to a NEW home in Nazareth, why would they need to find an inn in Bethlehem to give birth? And why would a census be necessary to make them travel?

    If Matthew is completely true, that makes Luke partially false, and vice versa; therefore, there must have been NO reliable story in the Christian community until they began to write, and at least one of them, possibly both, would have been unable to go to Mary, the source, for clarification. Possibly He was born in Nazareth, and nobody cared until the theological need to have Him born in Bethlehem came up?

    Blending the stories for a Christmas devotional is beautiful, but requires several details to be overlooked. But the essential truths about God’s relationship to humanity are illuminating!

  15. gamal says

    The Savior loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth” to suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, Pearson points out that:

    This is completely false assumption .

    The meaning of the kiss in the Gospel of Philip is something spiritual , it relates to the deliverance of the spiritual teachings of a moral teacher to his disciples .

    So we read this passage in the Gospel of Philip:

    And had the word gone out from that place, it would be nourished from the mouth and it would become perfect. For it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another.

    Case ended

  16. brian says

    My wife is the church, how bout that rendition?

  17. gamal says

    “The Savior loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth” to suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.” – Gospel of Philip

    This is completely false assumption based on ignorance of what the word kiss is mean in this context.

    The word kiss in the Gospel of Philip has
    a spiritual meaning.
    It means how a moral teacher deliver his moral teachings to his disciples by his mouth.
    So the teacher just kiss his disciples by giving them his moral teachings.

    We can read this passage from the gospel of Philip :
    “And had the word gone out from that place, it would be nourished from the mouth and it would become perfect. For it is by a kiss that the perfect conceive and give birth. For this reason we also kiss one another. We receive conception from the grace which is in one another.”"

  18. Dacer says

    To Joan-
    Let’s insert the idea that Jesus was married and had children. Do you know how fanatical people would become trying to find out if they were a descendent of Jesus? People would be searching for physical belonging rather than our spiritual belonging to Christ. I think when we look at the geologies of Jesus the 2 bloodlines stop in Jesus at the cross. There was no need for the bloodline to continue. There was no need of wife and no obligation by Jesus to get married. In order to be a Pharisee or part of the Sanhedrin you would have to get married and that was not Jesus’ goal by any means. Let’s go ahead and agree that Jesus demolished all expectation of what the Messiah would be like. Isaiah 53:10 says that He (speaking God/Jesus) shall see His seed and He shall prolong His days so that he will see the labor of his sacrifice (loose paraphrase). Fast forward to John 1:29 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 for the reasons to why we are now spiritual children of God.
    To your claim about the corruption of the early church, can you find some sources for me? I’m interested.
    I also agree with you marriage or no marriage this does not take away from his teachings but it makes me focus on his bloodline rather than his death bringing me into Gods family. Another thing I agree with you on…what is wrong with you people? Think about this, why are we so quick to discredit the gospels written within a few years of the life of Jesus but embrace writing hundreds of years after his life? We don’t trust the eyewitnesses but trust an unknown author 300 years after the historical events took place. Why do we do that? What is wrong with us? Look forward to hearing from you.

  19. Bear says

    Jesus’ only wife is the Church, the Body of Christ.

  20. DUANE says

    Again, Jesus own words numerous time refer to his Church as His Bride. If BAR continues to promote this kind of heresy (as it has lately – “God is a woman junk), I will drop my membership and encourage my many colleagues to do likewise! Obamaism seems to be rubbing off on BAR!

  21. Randall says

    The question remains unanswered, but the evidence is building. It would be nieve to think that politics was not involved in the decision of what was to be included in the official bible. Too bad the Roman church spent so much time and energy burning texts they didn’t like. The Inquisition was their answer to any questions that made them uncomfortable.

  22. LINDA says

    I went to the Scriptures and this is part of what i found but it tells us WHO THE BRIDE OF CHRIST WAS AND IS


    In the New Testament, the analogy is continued: Christ is the Bridegroom (John 3:29), and the church is His bride (Eph 5:25-33). The apostle Paul counsels husbands and wives to imitate the spiritual closeness and love which Christ has for His bride, the church (Eph 5:22-33).
    (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

  23. JAllan says

    I agree that even if Jesus had a human wife during his human lifetime, the IMPORTANT aspect is not physical descent from Him, but following His teachings. Therefore, even if Mary (or some other woman) was officially married to Him, He would have either made this a celibate marriage, or used His spiritual powers to ensure that there would be no conception. And His wife, if she were spiritually mature also, would have agreed with this decision. After all, He wanted to remove the authority of genealogy, whether of kings of of priests.

    One thing the Church DID get right, in my opinion, at least for earlier eras, was in removing the temptation for their priests to beget dynasties (although today this would be overkill, unless the M. L. King dynasty, for example, represents a corruption of the Baptist doctrine).

    Incidentally, how many people have noticed that the initials MLK spell the Hebrew word for king? Interesting coincidence.

    The point I was making in both of my earlier posts was that although we have little PHYSICALLY VERIFIABLE evidence of the historical details of Jesus’ life, we can all have faith that the Truth of God’s Spirit can shine through whatever human distortions may have gotten into the text. Both the orthodox (canonized) text and the historically heterodox texts were edited by numerous copyists BEFORE they began to be considered too sacred to change; the orthodox dogmas had already been inserted into the canonized text by that time. But the Truth is not in the details, it is in the Spirit.

    Thank God for putting His Spirit into each soul, to find the Truth as each of us needs to see it! Let us respect the Spirit in each of us. Amen.

  24. Thomas says

    we are his wife, remember we are the church, the bride of Christ

  25. Theodora says

    Jesus might have had a wife! Praise God! Mary of Magdala might have been Jesus’ wife! Praise God! Jesus and Mary might have had a child or children! Praise God! There might actually be descendants of them, living in the world, today! Praise God! Amen.

  26. pragna shineangel says

    I AGREE TO CATHERINE WAT ALL SHE SAYS IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.WATS WRONG WITH PEOPLE Y R U DOING ALL STUPID STUFF.AS A CHRISTIANS WE NEED TO MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD THAT OUR GOD IS TRUE .ITS NOT THAT FORCING OTHERS TO KNOW BUT BY THEIR HEART.AND AT ANY WAYS THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS AND THE SATAN IS WORKING ALOT TO PROVE THAT HIS WRONG.BUT WE HIS CHILDREN NEVER GONNA LET IT HAPPEN.Dear Bible Arch..If you were a Christian now or in those days, or a disciple of Christ, you would have known exactly what Jesus was talking about. His Christians/Disciples ARE His “wife.” Once you are saved and accept Jesus into your life, you are ONE with Him, just like a husband and wife, you become one with the body of Christ, which He calls His “Bride”. He even tells us that we are His disciples when we become His, to spread this gospel (good news) to others. Don’t you, when you are in love? He uses this like a simple parable. Why can’t people grasp even that from Scripture? It was the beginning of the Christian faith when He resurrected, and the TRUE church of Christ, which He called His “Bride” that stays true to His Word to the END.. He even calls other religions whores that change and write their “own Jesus”..do you understand? So this may well be authentic but the people in this article and who is writing this article have cheapened and per versed the precious saving grace of Jesus Christ into blaspheme once again. I would hate to be in their places when He comes to get His “Bride” for the Marriage Supper! Which is also in Scripture! Accept Jesus as your Savior, and you too will renew your mind and not conform to this sick world..

  27. JAllan says

    One of the posters said that “if you were a Christian … in that era”, which is exactly the point that this papyrus, IF AUTHENTIC, and the other historical records, are making. There was MORE THAN ONE form of Christianity competing for followers in those days. Some emphasized the HUMANITY of Jesus, as a super-prophet whom God had ADOPTED because of His obedience “unto death”, some emphasized the DIVINITY of Jesus to the point of thinking of Him as an image (we might think of a holographic projection in our age) who did not REALLY suffer; and some combined the two outlooks (Christologies, to thelogians) into the traditional view that Orthodox, Catholic, and most Protestant churches share today (the Trinity).

    But THEN, it was not certain how this would turn out. Ironically, the papyrus in question, and the Gospel of Thomas found in Nag Hammadi, mention the “kiss” or “marriage” between Jesus and Mary M. as a spiritual metaphor, just as mainstream Christians today refer to the church as the bride of Christ. But they did not deny the possibility that this Christ “image” did “apparently” love and marry, and it is possible that early proto-orthodox and monophysite Christians did not consider it impossible, UNTIL the church began to consider human love somehow “suspicious” for the truly devout. And that attitude, ironically, came from the very Gnostic Christians that produced these texts, since they considered the “world” totally evil, created by a “lesser spirit” created by Yahweh.

    So, there is no reason that a marriage involving Jesus is either out of the question, or very likely either. The important thing is the teaching of Jesus as to how we, also, will become sons and daughters of God, like Him. We do not all agree on the details of how God will do this, but we agree that God can and wants to elevate us to divine expressions.

    Pax Domini OMNIBUS vobiscum!

  28. Krzysztof says

    Thanks Jallan.More for consideration:
    Matthew 19:10-12+Matt 10:24 (@parallel in Lk-Qsource) would suggest that Jesus renounced family ties from his own experience in order to follow examples of prophets, Jeremiah, his maybe teacher, John the BAptist.
    contra this: why in Nazareth scenes (Matth 2:19@ parallel in Mk,Lk) there is no mention at all of eventual his wife while there are mentioned brothers, sisters, mother? Anyway, it vindicates only more the radical way of here celibacy, 1Cor 7:25nn

  29. Byron says

    So it was written hundreds of years after Jesus. The Gosples and Paul’s letters were written within the lifetime of witnesses. Hm, which one is more reliable?

    We haven’t heard much from real scholars and experts, perhaps they feel this is too silly to even comment upon and don’t want to be associated in any way.

    Jesus spoke in many parable, perhaps this was one. Or perhaps the writers of this fragment simply made everything up based upon whatever their political aims they had that day. Certainly they had free reign as no witnesses were around to correct them, which accoutns for the silliness found in other “Gospels” written at the time. .

    Why isn’t Jesus’ wife mentioned in a multitude of documents both internal and external to the Bible? Surely if there was a conspiracy by the Church, why is there no mention in other contemporary documents, such as Josephus?

    Perhaps this “scholar” is merely trying to make a buck, like so many many “scholars” before her.

    Randal, in the early years of the Quran, different copies were gathered and burned and one copy used and any deviance was punishable by death. Funny how the media never report on the massive and distrubing, to a Muslim, questions there are about Islam’s murky past. Yet, an almost ridiculous fragment is found and the media concludes Jesus had a family, and quite likely Obama is a descendant. This “scholar” is certainly doing a lot of favours for anti-Christian Muslims. When will the media deal with Islam in the same way?

    All of this will soon be forgotten, like the other “discoveries”.

  30. Gregory J. says

    1Cor 9:5: “We have authority to lead about a sister as a wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas, do we not?” From this argumentation it is plain that Jesus was not married in the physical sense (though he was engaged to a collective bride in the spiritual sense – John 3:25-30; Rev 21:9-14), since, to establish a teaching by example, the example of God or Christ is usually chosen, if possible, or referred to as precedent for following the example of a human (1Cor 11:1; Eph 5:1; 1Pet 1:15, 16; 2:21). But here, the example of Christ as being married is not appealed to, but only that of those followers of his who had the most responsible positions and were, therefore, most worthy of being examples. Since Christ’s example, if he had been married, would have been of greatest force, to omit it is to imply his singleness.

  31. Dan says

    Nature abhors a vacuum. It seems that biblical scholarship does, too.

  32. Charles says

    If this Coptic fragment is after a Greek original, perhaps “wife” is a poor translation of the Greek for “woman”? Without more context, as Karen L. King points out, this is evidence of nothing except, maybe, the thoughts of an ancient Coptic Christian.
    This is the same discussion the Church has engaged in for 1800 years: Was the Theotokos a virgin for the rest of her life? In defense of the early Church’s battles over the two natures of Christ, I would have thrown in with the Orthodox on these sexual questions. But today we fight a different battle to maintain the Orthodox doctrine of Two Natures and also have much more regard for the Original Testament’s attitudes toward sex. One thing for sure, when I hear the modern Gnostics deny either the divinity of Geshua or the humanity of the Christ, I blow my stack.
    There is no theological reason to deny Geshua a wife. But there is a manly reason: Geshua knew His earthly fate and knew that soon after His resurrection He would leave earth until the Last Day. He could not biologically avoid the pain and the danger this put on His Mother. But why in the world would an honorable man marry (and have children) when He knew He could not stay with them and protect them?
    The teachings of the Lord is important. But it more than teaching: it is His very incarnation and His sacrificial death and Resurrection, that matter most. Beware of folks who claim to follow His teachings but have not a clue about the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness. Follow Him all you want, it will do no good for you until you trust Him. Many parables teach this.
    Quit picking on this scholar. Karen L. King says things very carefully and clearly. We need more like her.

  33. Theodora says

    Our Father wants us to reason with Him. Since when did matrimony and conjugal interactions become unholy?! Certainly, the world is rampant with unholy marriages, but why would “they” call it holy matrimony, when people get married, if it isn’t? If Jesus said “My wife….”, there are numerous fill-in-the-blank possibilities. Taking words out of context is one thing. But, taking words from where there is sparse context, and turning them into anyone’s-guess sentences, can become thought-provoking. Ultimately, does Jesus’ historical married-or-unmarried status make a difference on whether or not we love God, our Father, with all our being and love one another as Jesus loved us? Per words ascribed to Jesus, if we would do just that, everything else would “fall into place,” as is our Father’s will for us. No?

  34. Aubrey says

    My take on all this is that – if infact Jesus our Lord married and had a wife, how is that a bad thing?
    It was going to raise eyebrows if it were propounded that Jesus had sexual relations with his vulnerable female followers whom he did not marry -as most pastors and men of God do today.
    If all these “discoveries” are proven to be true to me they show us that jesus respected tradition and culture of the day to obviously win some for the kingdom of heaven.

  35. Krzysztof says

    Lk 14:20@25 and not in other synoptics : renouncing “wife@kids” would support I mentioned the radical conversion of Jesus (Mk 1:4,9)- I just discovered yesterday!

    Anyway: these are small details. Jesus died accused as a political rebel: Greek, “lestei” is not for a criminal! A Roman cross was only for rebels or slaves! “King of Jews” a charge is political- as a Galilean ex.J 7:52)was seen as a constant insurgency as reported in Josephus history writings against Greeks,Romans@Herods.Anyway: to remind that his ressurrection vindicated any victim of any Herod, Cesar@Kaiphas who did not bound his head before them @dumb religious mob like Socrates in Athens, therefore it (the example) scares any Authority! Jesus grew up in the atmosphere of battle stories@uprisings (a near Sephoris, 4C.E-2 000 crucified by Romans called by Herod)

  36. Joan says

    To Dacer;
    I think it would be a good thing if it was discovered that Jesus had a blood line. If you believe, as I do, that Jesus was only a man and his teachings are what made him remarkable, than his blood line would have no real signifigance. But to believe in the supernatural, we have to make all kinds of concessions to what archeology has shown us to be habits and the practices of the time of Jesus and the place and customs of Judism.
    When presented with logic or the supernatural, I choose logic.

  37. Christopher says

    It is no surprise to Christians to hear Jesus speak about his “wife.” The book of Revelation speaks about the wedding supper of the Lamb. The Lamb is Jesus Christ. In 21:2 the New Jerusalem is spoken of as the bride. In 21:9, we read, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’” The “wife” or “bride” of Jesus, then, is the New Jerusalem according to mainstream Christianity. So, this fragment does not necessarily mean that Christians thought Jesus literally had a wife. The most one can infer is that Christians have Jesus speaking about his wife. Whether in this case it is a literal wife or a spiritual wife cannot be determined. So technically, one cannot logically conclude that Christians thought Jesus had a wife (as in, was married) because nothing in the fragment shows that Jesus is speaking literally as opposed to spiritually.

  38. Wardell says

    Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene aka Mariamne. Jesus lived and died as a Jew not as a “Christian”. Christianity is a concept created after the death of Jesus.
    “Christian Scholars” should consult Jewish history and documents for how Jesus lived.

    Jesus and Mary Magdalene are buried in a jewish grave in Talpiot, Israel.

  39. Altorfer says

    I think that one of the “false Christs” was married, living a time in the Land of Kashmir, where Erich van Däniken took a picture of “Jesus Christs grave”, as published in one of his books.

  40. Brian tracy says

    Harmony and parallelism from both OT & NT are constant in proving a doctrine. If its true that Jesus had an earthly wife, then God, in His sovereignty must have revealed that thoroughly through the Holy Scriptures. So far I find no cross reference and the Holy Spirit, so far, has no revelation on this upon us (nor will there ever be).

  41. Sam says

    “My wife” even if it were a legitimate, accurate statement by Jesus, is as likely to be a parabolic statement (think “behold, My children”). It is evidence of poor science and a lack of creativity to state that this is 1) necessarily a true utterance, and 2) that it “means” either Jesus had a wife in the carnal sense or that any group even believed He did. A complete leap of the mind with no evidence whatsoever. This really makes one doubt the credibility of modern Harvard and such scholars.

  42. Nicholas says


  43. George says

    Is it Christian dogma that Jesus died a 33 year old virgin?

    All the comments about Jesus having “the church” as his bride are of course wildly anachronistic in terms of anything Jesus might have actually said.

    It seems a lot of people would be more comfortable if nothing were ever discovered about early Christianity that is not in the Big Golden Book of Bible Stories.

  44. JOSEPH says

    You people dont realy know who is GOD that is why you are argueing about JESUS’S WIFE matter,in the beginning GOD created them male and female accordind to GOD’S IMAGE,if JESUS does not get a wife that’s means he’s not the MESSIAH,that’s means JESUS himself is a liar because GOD himself get a wife(THE HOLY SPIRIT).GOD THE FATHER is the GREAT and WHITE EAGLE while his wife or holy spirit or OUR MOTHER OF ALL is the WHITE PIGEON or DOVE.that’s the way is it i’m not telling lies because GOD himself has showed me everything concerning himself the year 1999 i was 20 years by then.now let me tell you the truth, JESUS of nazareth is the human form of the great and white EAGLE while mary magdalene is the human form of the DOVE.the book of revelation chapter 12 is talking about mary magdalene; revelation chapter 12 tell us that the woman was given the 2 wings of THE GREAT AND WHITE EAGLE(THAT IS GOD THE FATHER BAPTIZING HIS DAUGHTER),the same thing happened to jesus 2000 years ago in the river jordan(GOD THE WHITE PIGEON OR DOVE GAVE HER 2 WINGS TO HER SON).remember that KING DAVID 3000 years ago said(I WISH I HAD WINGS LIKE DOVE,I WILL FLY AWAY,FAR AWAY IN THE DESERT WHERE I CAN FIND REST).So therefore mary magdalene is GOD fully,in the same way jesus is GOD fully.many people are thinking that the woman is mary mother of jesus which is wrong,jesus denied his own mother so that MARY MAGDALENE may take her place as it is written;man will leave his father and mother and unify himself with his wife and both of them will become one flesh,also remember that JESUS himself always defends MARY MAGDALENE,he even says everywhere in the world where the gospel will be preached people will also preach about what MARY MAGDALENE did for him. JESUS by then was also prophecying about revelation chapter 12 who show us how JESUS himself is BORN AGAIN.Now you will agree with me that mary mother of jesus did not went up to heaven as catholic church use to say because they have the spirit of error but MARY MAGDALENE went up to heaven because she is the BRIDE OF THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.OK right now i have something to say,it comes from the second book of CORINTHIANS chapter 16 verse22.it is written(WHOEVER DOES NOT LOVE JESUS OF NAZARETH THE LORD OF THE LIVINGS AND THE DEATHS,LET HIM BE CURSED).

  45. Dorinda says

    Catherine and Bear have it right and I stand in agreement with them.

  46. Annie says

    If you knew the Jewish history, you would know that Yeshua was married !! First.. there is no
    “J” in the Hebrew alphabet.. so please call him Yeshua… and secondly, it was a sin, in the
    Jewish religion not to be married by the age of 30!! He was a rabbi and rabbis are known to be married and have many,many children..

  47. Deborah says

    Does it really matter? I find it surprising that people care one way or another if Jesus was married or not, or if Jesus had sex or not. Who cares? That’s just like those Hollywood films that are constantly injecting a love interest in an action flick for no good reason. How would a hypothetical marriage of Jesus change what he said or did? Which is not to say that this fragment of papyrus is uninteresting. Any information we can get about Jesus is valuable. But the way people act, you would think Jesus was being accused of having been a serial killer or something. Get over your misogyny, people. God made women too! I also find it troubling that so many commenters are unable to differentiate between “its” and “it’s.” If you cannot use proper English grammar then how can you expect people to respect your opinion?

  48. gen says

    if those gospels were written at the time of jesus, how come they say different things. we cant say for sure what is true or not, dont be s
    urprise what may be true, the bible we read may not even be complete and some may have been changed. what we should be looking at is doing the right and as for the celibate act of priesthood, if i’m to say, i will advice they get married cos rather than their hypocritic act i advice they settle down in marriage and still worship God.

  49. hammer says

    This christianity you quote so knowingly is nothing that would be recognizable to this man called Yeshua. The credit for this can be attributed to Saul/Paul/Josephus ( one in the same ) who so wanted to be an apostle but was rejected and consequently used Yeshua as a talisman for HIS new religion. And the Roman Emperor Constantine who in 323 c.e., at the council of nicea, in collusion with other ” holy men” ( and I do mean unholy men ) decided what would and would not be considered part of this New Testament that you have studied and believed to be the divinely inspired word of our GOD. I find it somewhat amusing and ironic that the very empire that killed the man is now the center of christianity!! Did saul/paul/josephus have any connection with the roman empire? Free your mind and the rest will follow!

  50. Gary says

    If you believe that sex is bad, and that God did not create man and woman to have sex and children, then of course you cannot believe that Jesus ever married. But the Son of Man was a Jew, and only a few did not marry. If he was an Essene or some such sect member, maybe he never married. But it makes more sense that he did. They married young, girls by 12.5, boys often by 14-16. The most vehement objections come from those who believe that physical contact with a woman fully defiles a man. That is not a Godly perspective, and is not supported by a belief in a loving God. Men have no monopoly on purity.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. De vrouw van Jezus - creatov.nl linked to this post on September 20, 2012

    [...] bruid gaat ze als vanzelf schitteren. Ik zeg: laat het feest maar komen!Bron: New York Times / biblicalarchaeology.orgLees ook deze artikelen »De historische JezusDit is een promo van een BBC documentaire over [...]

  2. From the Old News Department – Theodidacti linked to this post on September 21, 2012

    [...] more here: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/a-gospel-of-jesus-wife-on-a-coptic-papyrus/ This entry was written by Mark, posted on September 20, 2012 at 6:09 am, and filed under [...]

  3. » Hershel Shanks Weighs in on the “Jesus Wife” Fragment TaborBlog linked to this post on October 17, 2012

    [...] The article, as almost all of you know, is about an ancient Coptic papyrus text the size of a business card in which Jesus refers to “my wife.” (See “A ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ on a Coptic Papyrus.”) [...]

  4. The Jesus Wife Papyrus: A reasoned argument from Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review | Simcha Jacobovici TV linked to this post on October 17, 2012

    [...] The article, as almost all of you know, is about an ancient Coptic papyrus text the size of a business card in which Jesus refers to “my wife.” (See “A ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ on a Coptic Papyrus.”) [...]

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