BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

The “Gospel of Jesus' Wife” Papyrus Revisited

Harvard Divinity School declares the papyrus ancient, but the debate rages on

The Harvard Theological Review recently published scientific testing on a papyrus including the text “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’”

The Harvard Theological Review recently published scientific testing on a papyrus including the text“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” Photo: B.D. Colen and Joseph M. Azzarelli, via the Harvard Divinity School.

In September 2012, Harvard’s Hollis Chair of Divinity Karen L. King announced the discovery of a Coptic papyrus fragment that includes the text “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” After an extended silence while the papyrus was subjected to extensive scientific tests, Harvard’s Divinity School announced that “testing indicates ‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ papyrus fragment to be ancient,” following the April 2014 issue of Harvard Theological Review’s (HTR) publication of carbon-14, paleographical, spectroscopy and other scientific analyses. Harvard Divinity School’s website includes updated images, Q & A and other resources on the papyrus.
However, the subject is still open for debate. In the second postscript to his forward in the same issue of HTR, Brown University’s Leo Depuydt writes, “All this still leaves me personally 100% convinced that the Wife of Jesus Fragment is a forgery.”
When King announced the discovery of the fragment in 2012, she clearly stated that the text implied that some early Christian populations believed that Jesus had a wife—not that Jesus was, in fact, married. Even still, if the papyrus is legitimate, it holds implications for the status of women in early Christianity, as well as the tradition of a celibate priesthood. As soon as the papyrus was announced, the story spread like wildfire in the popular media, and myriad scholarly responses swiftly followed soon after. While King had consulted a small cohort of eminent scholars who defended the fragment’s authenticity, others were quick to declare it a forgery.
Just when the debate regarding the authenticity of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” reached a fevered pitch, it was silenced. The Harvard Theological Review pulled King’s article, and Smithsonian suspended the airing of a documentary about the papyrus. HTR announced that the fragment would undergo testing, though the lack of specific information frustrated interested scholars and journalists.
The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is back in the April 2014 issue of Harvard Theological Review. HTR gives the papyrus fragment considerable treatment beyond Karen L. King’s critical presentation of the papyrus; the issue includes a paleographic analysis by Malcolm Choat, a chemical ink analysis by James T. Yardley and Alexis Hagadorn, microspectroscopy results by Joseph M. Azzarelli, John B. Goods and Timothy M. Swager, spectrometry radiocarbon analyses by Gregory Hodgins and Noreen Tuross, a condemnation as a forgery by Leo Depuydt, and, finally, a response by Karen L. King.
 


 
Update: Read new developments in this case in “Is the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife a Fake?,” “Owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Papyrus Unmasked” and “Timeline of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Saga.”
 


 
Multispectral image aken by a team led by Michael B. Toth, President, R. B. Toth Associates, and processed by William Christens-Barry, Imaging Scientist, Equipoise Imaging, LLC, supported by Ken Boydston, via the Harvard Divinity School.

Multispectral image taken by a team led by Michael B. Toth, President, R. B. Toth Associates, and processed by William Christens-Barry, Imaging Scientist, Equipoise Imaging, LLC, supported by Ken Boydston, via the Harvard Divinity School.

While carbon-14 tests did not provide reliable dates (initial tests placed the fragment before the birth of Jesus, and secondary testing provided dates in the 8th century C.E.), King suggests that the carbon dating, in conjunction with analysis of the carbon “lamp black” pigments, “supports the conclusion that the papyrus and ink of GJW are ancient.” According to paleographer Malcolm Choat, the “handwriting and the manner in which it has been written do not provide definitive grounds for proving” that the fragment is a forgery. The only dissenting view published in the Harvard Theological Review is voiced by Leo Depuydt (though many others have been voiced in other—especially online—publications. See more below.), who sees “grammatical blunders” in the text that suggest that it is “entirely a patchwork of words and phrases from the Gospel of Thomas.”
Karen L. King discussed the papyrus fragment, the recent scientific testing and the implications of such a new “gospel” with WGBH News:

 
Since the publication of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” in the latest issue of Harvard Theological Review, many scholars have published their responses online. University of Notre Dame scholar Candida Moss eloquently summarizes the debate, suggesting that while the popular media has been quick to call the papyrus authentic, the debatable date of the ink has left the “scholarly community […] less enthusiastic about the discovery.”
 


 
Our free eBook Ten Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries brings together the exciting worlds of archaeology and the Bible! Learn the fascinating insights gained from artifacts and ruins, like the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where the Gospel of John says Jesus miraculously restored the sight of the blind man, and the Tel Dan inscription—the first historical evidence of King David outside the Bible.
 


 
New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado supplied his initial thoughts and further observations, and highlights from his commentary have been noted by Bob Cargill. Christopher Rollston has discussed the ink, forgery and epigraphy, and James Tabor has provided a series of links contextualizing the backstory. The NT Blog, written by Duke University’s Mark Goodacre, has been my primary source for finding scholarly reactions to the HTR publications, and I recommend that our readers continue to visit Goodacre’s blog for the latest updates on the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Within the NT Blog, I want to point out two important dissenting papers regarding the authenticity of the fragment, posted as pdf files: Leo Depuydt’s response to Karen King’s response as well as an additional critical response by Durham’s Francis Watson.
In addition to the wide range of responses by Biblical scholars, I also want to direct readers to an interesting piece of investigative journalism by LiveScience’s Owen Jarus, who delves into the matter of King’s source for the papyrus, raising questions about the fragment’s purchase in East German Potsdam over fifty years ago.
The rapid-fire web publications on the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” range from resourceful to fingerpointing, and Paleojudaica’s Jim Davila reminds readers that while he is “still quite skeptical that the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is an ancient artifact, King has made a real effort to keep the tone high and the skeptics should do the same.”
There have surely been other online articles written about the papyrus not mentioned in this article. I apologize to any esteemed commentators that I missed in this post, but it is hard to keep up with such a large discussion. In fact, the blog-based scholarly reactions to the HTR publication have been so varied and complex that they themselves have been analyzed as a prime example of new media in academic discussion (see Norwegian School of Theology’s Liv Ingeborg Lied’s post here).
We at Bible History Daily look forward to the continuing discussion online, as well as Hershel Shanks’s First Person in the January/February 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
For more in Bible History Daily, see A “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” on a Coptic Papyrus and Hershel Shanks’s Is the Harvard Theological Review a Coward or Did Dr. Karen King Do Something Wrong?
We recommend readers examine Harvard’s Gospel of Jesus’ Wife website and the April 2014 issue of Harvard Theological Review.
 


 
What is Coptic? Who were the Copts in ancient Egypt? Leo Depuydt gives a short history in BAR >>
 


 


69 Responses

  1. Fred Sandoval says:

    The name Jesus was a common name, like Mary…. (It was the Christ )That sat Jesus Christ apart from the other Jesus…

  2. ralph ellis says:

    .
    And if Jesus became High Priest, as it says he did in Hebrews 7, then the Talmud says he must have two wives (II Yoma i ). And his two wives were Mary and Martha of Bethany. Note that this Bethany residence was called the House of Simon.

    The reason for the secrecy?

    a. Mary and Martha were actually Mary and Martha of Simon Boethus, the richest ladies in Judaea, just as Prof Robert Eisenman has proven. This is why Mary and Martha lived at the House of Simon. The Talmud records that Mary Boethus got a million gold denarii dowry when she married here husband. And the name of her husband? ….. Jesus, of course – Jesus the high priest of Jerusalem in about AD 62. So the Church not only does not like the great wealth of this Mary, they don’t like the late date of their marriage either.

    b. The second reason for the secrecy is that Mary and Martha were the sisters of Jesus. This was not unusual in this era. King Agrippa II married his sister, as did the Patriarch Abraham, and Queen Helena of Adiabene-Edessa, and Simon Magus. And Simon Magus was the primary pupil of John the Baptist. And St Paul (Saul) asked to have a sister-wife in 1Cor 9:5. (you need the right Bible to see this).

    See ‘The King Jesus Trilogy’.

  3. Alem says:

    How much of Dr. Karen’s views filter into her work? Here are few of her work,
    “the history of women in ancient Christianity”
    She is the author of The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, What Is Gnosticism?, Revelation of the Unknowable God, etc

    Could her academic research be a reflection of her interests rather than a rigor to “follow wherever the data lead?” Her latest work was sensationalized by putting “Jesus” with “wife.” No matter how hard she tried the project seems to not get any traction. And yet in the interest of “keeping the discussion alive” she or Harvard have not come forward to accepting verdicts from scholarship more attuned to investigating ancient documents. In other word, Dr. Karen’s credibility as a scholar is on the line.

  4. JREnsey blog May, 2015 | JREnsey Blog says:

    […] up controversy through speculation. Those who wish to keep up with the continuing saga may visit http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/the-gospel-of-jesus-wife-papy… or any number of other sites devoted to the […]

  5. Susan Fischer says:

    Usually when a man was about to die the wife would be taken in by a family member. Jesus Christ did not ask for any wife to be taken care of but rather he asked for his mother to be taken care of as Joseph was already deceased.
    John 19 25,26,27. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother and his mothers sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene, When Jesus therefore saw his MOTHER , and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his MOTHER, woman behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her into his own home. If Jesus was married he would have asked that disciple to take his wife and not his mother.

  6. The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife | Freely Receive says:

    […] Harvard Divinity School declares papyrus ancient, but the debate rages on. On September 18, 2012, Dr. Karen L. King (The Gospel of Mary) announced the existence of another papyrus fragment dubbed The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife at the International Coptic Congress in Rome.  After almost two years of papyrological examination and scientific analysis of ink and papyrus performed by multiple professional teams,  in March 2014 the fragment was deemed “authentic.”  No evidence of modern fabrication (“forgery”) was found. However, the Biblical Archaeology Society states the subject is still open for debate. […]

  7. Norma Jean says:

    BLASPHEMY!!!!

  8. Donna says:

    Jesus’ wife was the church; Just like “my car is my baby”….a play on words.

  9. Mark says:

    If they would only put Muhammad’s life and statements under the same microscope… Or Darwin, or “the Watch Tower Society”! That would be interesting! Wouldn’t it?

  10. Izamar says:

    Jesus was sent to Earth to live the human experience and save man. It makes no logical sense that he would come here and live like a man, only to refuse to participate in the two most intense aspects of the human experience, fatherhood and sex. Whether he had a wife and children could possibly never be proven and scholars may argue forever, without either party being wrong or right.

    One thing that truly bothers me is the Christian response to the idea of him being a father or husband. The idea of that is almost always met with outrage. Family is possibly one of the most precious things we have. Whats so wrong in Jesus being a father or husband?

  11. Shannon Morris says:

    The Bible tells us that the Church is Jesus wife. Why is this Biblical fact never brought up? Here’s Wiki’s entry on the subject and you can look it up in the Bible as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bride_of_Christ
    Everytime I read something relating to this fragment, no one, and I mean NO ONE, mentions this as the reasoning behind the term “Jesus wife”. Shame

  12. ronald says:

    Jesus Christ came to fulfill alllll rightousness. Including Baptism though He was perfect and Marriage though He was God the Messiah.

  13. GIDION MUGISHA GASPAR says:

    short and clear there is no relationship between Jesus and woman in terms of marriage or love affair, how can God have a wife, for what purpose? There must be seriousness when it come a matter of our God.

  14. Wanda Tillman says:

    Antiquity does not imply true or accurate. Ancient writers (and modern ones as well) liked a good story and would tell one to make a point regardless of whether it was true or made up. This question must be looked at in the light of the time it was written in and also of the writer’s understanding of the time he is writing about. Marriage was a norm. Not being married was different. If the point is to illustrate that Jesus was a ‘normal every day’ sort of person, fully human, being married would have made a great deal of sense as a way to point out that Jesus was, in fact, human. And since this papyrus was written after the fact, the writer was free to embellish the facts to make a point. History as we know it, strives for accuracy, for ‘truthfulness in reporting facts. In Biblical times being memorable was just as important.

    Whether Jesus was actually married or not is a question to be answered in another place and time, by the One who knows.

  15. larry Gurthet says:

    let’s remember Israel’s messiah was never a deity, but a human only. further it was Paul who mentioned celibacy not Jesus

  16. jacquelenel says:

    Karen L. King was crucified for her announcements and has been forced to go against her findings, most likely. Unfortunately, I wish the educated community would bring out the truth regarding their discoveries but they would rather leave us believing false teachings than shed light on facts and truth. I believe King. I believe there are many more facts that are hidden from us and fear dominates, as, money dominates. Not much has changed over time.

  17. Varghese says:

    Weather Christians should be celibate was not something that came up after 100 year (as proposed in a YouTube video by Karen King) because Paul has addressed the problem in detail in the epistles. Personally; I don’t think is possible to assert Jesus was married without denying His Deity / He is Israel’s Messiah for being God He could do only what He needed to do to accomplish His mission like a married Christian man knows it is his “mission” not to have to sleep with a woman who is not his wife Jesus knew being married would not be compatible / consistent with His special “mission” to die on the Cross. Jesus would have read what was written by prophet Isaiah about Jesus’s death with out having had any children: “From detention and judgment he was taken away—and who can even think about his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living, he was stricken for the transgression of my people.” Isaiah 53:8

  18. May 2014 Apologetic Potpourri | benpreachin.com says:

    […] Noah Weiner, “The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus Revisited” […]

  19. Varghese says:

    Helen this particular text is clearly from the 8th century and as far as I know is unattested by the early church. On top of that there are several verses that does not put either a married or an unmarried sate advantageous over the other as applicable to every one. The choice is to be made individually on personal circumstances and gifts based on what best furthers the Kingdom of Heaven.
    “Some men are celibate from birth,
    while some are celibate because they have been made that way by others.
    Still others are celibate because they have made themselves that way for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven”
    (Mathew 19:12)
    “From now on,
    those who have wives should live as though they had none,
    and those who mourn as though they did not mourn,
    and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing,
    and those who buy as though they did not own a thing,
    and those who use the things in the world as though they were not dependent on them.
    For the world in its present form is passing away..”
    (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

  20. Helen Sayers says:

    Of course it wouldn’t suit the male dominated, verging on misogynistic, attitudes of those ‘in power’ to have Jesus being married. I cannot see how it makes any difference to his message or his status. God created marriage and thoroughly approved it. Jesus chose to live life as fully human, being subject to all human related ‘states of being’. He knew sorrow, hunger, tiredness, and also experienced righteous wrath, in the garden, before his betrayal, he experienced the same fear that would strike any of us, and prayed that “this cup pass from me, but, nonetheless, not my will, but thine be done”. Why does Jesus have to be virginal? It is normal jewish custom for men of that era to marry and is actually more of a requirement.. Again, how does it change ANY of his achievements?? Of course he also knew love, joy, good food and company, laughter, friendship and he did, indeed have a disciple he elevated to a special place in his heart and group. He had siblings, all very normal,…grow up people!! I agree, there are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see! The ridiculous pointlessness of persisting with this arrogant denial, when the likelihood of Jesus being married is a concept I have no difficulty with at all,…because, as previously stated, it detracts not a thing from the fulfillment of his purpose.

  21. Varghese says:

    Yes I agree with Lawrence. The great bible scholar of the early church Augustine has written that the portions such as Jesus saving the woman caught in adultery from stoning by the Pharisees in the Gospel of John was in the original manuscript of John but was later removed by some people who felt that might lead to rampant immorality just like today people steeped in either Arminianism or some form of Roman Catholicism accuse Calvinists of sexual immorality. Augustine though a pre Calvin Calvinist is believed to have led a pois and holy life leaving his sexually immoral life behind after becoming pre Calvin Calvinist.

  22. Lawrence Hebb says:

    The idea that Jesus had a wife isn’t a new one! This papyrus may be new to us, but the fact is the idea wasn’t. There are vast vaults of fragments that have been shown to be ancient but different (and heretical) to the ones that are in our Bibles.

    Those that are in the Bible (as we know it) have stood up to 1,900 years of scrutiny (the first to challenge their authenticity was Marcion in the mid second century but they have withstood the test of time.

    These other ones may be good to read, but they have not withstood that kind of scrutiny and so should be treated with some degree of skepticism until they are shown to be more accurate.

  23. Wardell says:

    Robin #34
    Just because you “Believe it”, it doesn’t make it true..
    Faith is “believing without seeing”..

    You believe in the Roman “Gospels”
    I believe that Jesus was the Teacher of Righteousness of the Dead Sea Scrolls and was buried in the Talpiot Tomb..

    Jesus was a Jew, read the Jewish literature not just the Roman Constantine literature.
    http://jewishchristianlit.com/Topics/JewishJesus/san107b.html..
    .

  24. Paul Ballotta says:

    I apologize, the Sheckinah is refered to as the Divine Presence. Interestingly, the Bahir makes reference to the date palm as being both male and female, as in the case of Tamar (date palm) in Genesis 38:6.
    “Why was she called Tamar and not any other name? Because she was female. Can we say that [it wassomething special that] she was female? But it is because she included both male and female. For every date palm includes includes both male and female” (The Bahir, by Aryah Kaplan, p.80).
    In Genesis 38:13, it was on the way to Timnah when Judah mistook Tamar for a prostitue. Timnah was a city bordering the territory the Israelites and Phillistines. It was another Phillistine city, Jabneh (2 Chronicles 25:6), that saw a thriving temple cult in which ceramic stands with images of goddesses and palm trees were offered between 850 and 750 B.C.E. In the January/February 2011 issue of BAR (p.58) a clay model of a shrine is shown with a goddess standing in the doorway which was flanked on either side with palm trees, whjch calls to mind the Proto-Aeolic capitals that flanked royal buildings in Israel and Judah that was reported in a recent article:
    http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/proto-aeolic-capital-associated-with-judahs-longest-spring-tunnel/
    Jabneh became the seat of the Rabbinate following the destruction of the temple by the Romans. Jabneh means “God builds” and it is this term for building that is used to describe the woman that was fashioned from the man’s side in Genesis 2::22.

  25. Paul Ballotta says:

    Interesting that Rob #35 brought up that French connection. It was in southern France in the city of Provence that the Jewish mystical movement known as the Kabbalah was born based on ideas from the book of Bahir. The concept of the Shekinah which derived from the root word meaning “to dwell,” represented Divine Providence in the world. In the Talmud the Shekinah is male but in the Bahir the the Shekinah is female, like the gnostic Sophia of the 2nd century C.E. This concept of God being both male and female that was implied in Genesis 1:27 would continue in 13th century Spain in the book of Zohar.
    “I do not hesitate, for my part, to affirm that the literature of the Spanish Kabbalah, especially that imbedded in the Zohar, clearly reveals a psychological attitude that, in the Middle Ages, led men to recast ancient talmudic and midrashic material according to an entirely new spirit by means of an exegetical and homiletical method that in its structure was gnostic, but that reached its full development only under the influence of the Bahir” (Origins of the Kabbalah, by Gershom Scholem, p.86).

  26. D Kennedy says:

    BTW, the recent “discovery” is indeed a copy of earlier proven forgery. For example, see:

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304178104579535540828090438

    Dan Brown and Elaine Pagels aside, people need to stop treating the noncanonical gospels as if they’re “closer to history.” Most of them date from the third, fourth, or fifth centuries, and the early ones are no earlier than the late second century. The canonical gospels, while misordered (Mark should be first) and marred by later polemics, are the oldest, “closest to history,” that we have.

  27. David says:

    Leaving aside the fact that evidence strongly indicates that the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is a forgery, I have been interested in the reasons given on this thread on why it should be accepted as authentic.

    We are to believe that Jesus was married because to say otherwise is to deny His humanity. Or because rabbis were usually married Jesus must also have been married. Or because we have to be open to “change”, even if there is no evidence. Or because it is a new and exciting idea, and anything new and exciting must therefore be true. Or because there was a Big Conspiracy by the early church to hid the truth, although the reasons for such a conspiracy are vague and contradictory (to say the least).

    The evidence is what motivates me. And the evidence points to this being a forgery.

  28. Rob Palmer says:

    Fellow named L Gardner presented lineages of descent from Christ several years ago, and this was a best seller in Europe. Does anyone know where he got his material? He misdirects readers to a dull Merovingian lineage of a remote French royal family (which chart he has included in the back), but adjacent to this featured appendix item was a Carolingian lineage, much more interesting: Descent from JC and also Marcus Antonius and J. Caesar’s sister. Strange bedfellows! Not to be connected with the Dan Brown work, with similar motif.

  29. The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus Revisited Harvard Divinity School declares the papyrus ancient, but the debate rages on | says:

    […] http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/the-gospel-of-jesus-wife-papy… […]

  30. Robin says:

    For Mardewll #17 … If there really is a Jesus family tomb in Jerusalem, that is mildly interesting. But Jesus is not there. If He had been there, the ruling authorities in Jerusalem would have known it and found it 2000 years ago and ended the “superstition” they so hated once and for all. It makes no sense that disciples who cowered at the accusations of a servant girl — and etc — should have gone throughout the known world and preached under adverse circumstances — and most dying horrific deaths — if they only “thought” He was resurrected or knew they were conning people. They had to at least have believed it based on an empty tomb and (by their account) actual appearances of Jesus alive to them and 500 others on one occasion or other) and something convinced them that Jesus was risen physically from the dead.

    As for Mary Mag and Jesus and John … a lot of innuendo and speculation has been made over time about Mary Magdalene. All of it is interesting, of course. But all that can be known from the gospels is that she was from Magdala, which is located on the road from Nazareth on the shores of the Sea of Galillee. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved. But the Gospels also say Jesus loved the rich young ruler and etc. Jesus showed His love for all of us in that He took the punishment for our sins so that we can be forgiven and made friends with God again. Thus “love” does not necessarily mean physical offspring or familial relationship in the sense that we often mean it. Read John 1:12 and Acts 4:12, among other things. No gospel evidence of a married Jesus. The Messiah was here to die for our sins — and sits today at the right hand of the Father.

  31. Robin says:

    This could be something similar to that Gospel of Judas that was “all the rage” for two minutes in 2005 and then they decided that the translation was wrong, and it did not say what they thought the Gospel said. Oops! But this could be something interesting. Nevertheless, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have earliest tradition behind them. No one from the early decades of the second century, or late decades of the first, mentioned any gospel of Jesus’ wife. And the development of deviant “gospel” stories may have been the reason for developing a canon — even unofficially — by mid 2nd century. As for the issue of priestly celibacy – — wha-a-a-a-t? They probably should be allowed to marry. Many seem to fall to deviant sexual temptations, and that is a problem. However, making a case for or against such a thing is irrelevant to the concept of Jesus having a wife. He was God incarnate. He came to earth to pay the price for humanity’s sin, not to procreate. Read John 1:12.

  32. Paul Ballotta says:

    While I agree with Paul #31 about popular culture’s obsession with senational attention-grabbing headlines that insult our intelligence (as if we wouldn’t want to see a historical film unless it included a love story), the actual history of Christianity began with Mary Magdalene. She was the first to see the ressurected Jesus who told her not to cling to his physical form, for he had not yet ascended (John 20:17). In the Gospel of Thomas, beleived to be written before the canocal gospels, Jesus tells Peter that Mary would “become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” This accords with the writing of Paul in Galatians 3:28 where it says that men and woman in Christ are equal. This notion of equality, however, would be tossed under the chariot (so to speak in Roman times) when all references to the new creation of men and women created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) were deleted from the Christian historical record:
    “While in earlier times Christian men and women sat together for worship, in the middle of the second century – precisely at the time of struggle with gnostic Christians – orthodox communities began to adopt the synagogue custom, segregating women from men. By the end of the second century, women’s participation in worship was explicitly condemned: groups in which women continued on to leadership were branded as heretical” (The Gnostic Gospels, by Elaine Pagels, p.63).

  33. Paul T. McCain says:

    And this is how you make a career out of peddling nonsense that anyone who has spent any time studying the history of early Christianity knows to be just one among many weirdo groups that broke off mainstream Christianity. The fragment in question did not show up (assuming it is real) for *hundreds* of years after the life of Christ.

    There is nothing to this story, other than showcasing the gullible public, the ever-willing media to find something sensational, and professors trying to make a name for themselves pushing this nonsense.

  34. D Kennedy says:

    There’s also a lot of confusion about the role of celibacy in Christian history. In Western countries, people are familiar with only Protestantism (where there is no sanction for celibacy) and Roman Catholicism (where priests, monks, and nuns are supposed to be celibate and sharply distinct from the laity). In the eastern churches, priests could be married (but not monks or nuns) under certain circumstances. The Roman church was like that as well, until about a thousand years ago.

    Jesus’ celibacy was supposed to be a degree beyond that, as not being tainted with original sin, like the immaculate conception and perpetual virginity of his mother, Mary.

  35. D Kennedy says:

    There were ascetic Jewish groups in the Second Temple period, most famously the Essenes. So it’s not a certainty that Jesus “had to be married.” It was certainly the general rule in Jewish culture at that time, but quite not the universal norm that it became when rabbinic Judaism became the sole surviving strand of Judaism.

    Most of these noncanonical Gospels are late, and only a couple have been dated as early as the second century. People would like to read some historical significance into them for various reasons, but they’re too late to have that importance. Unless some Aramaic “Jesus biography” is discovered, the canonical Gospels are as close as we can get.

  36. rodolfo salazar zamora says:

    is any Prophet with a record of giving commandments to the children’s of God, who hasn’t compliant first with it? don’t need to be a surprise the fact the Greatest Prophet on Earth was married.

  37. Georgeos Díaz-Montexano says:

    Dr. Depuydt is right. Without a doubt the text is a crude forgery which was carried out on a fragment of ancient papyrus and with ink made from the same ancient components; something very easy to play, because there is a lot of information posted on the components of carbon inks used from the early centuries of Christianity up to the Byzantine times. But the paleographic and grammatical analysis shows, beyond any reasonable doubt possible, that it is a forgery and the more grotesque.

    Here’s the first palaeographic report just a few days since the news came out to the media in 2012:
    http://www.agonfilosofia.es/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=176&Itemid=15

    Kind regards,
    Georgeos

  38. Roger Buffett says:

    I’m thinking of all the ballplayers who have played, or are playing, in Major League Baseball, named Jesus. How certain are these scholars that there was only one guy called Jesus in those days?

  39. David says:

    It seems to me, as a non-Christian, that the church fashioned Jesus in the image they wanted. If Roman and Grecian gods had sex, then Jesus couldn’t, which meant no marriage. Then, even his parents couln’t have; and then, his mother would have to be bodily taken into heaven. As each thing is assumed, to create converts, other things have to logically flow from there, or the whole structure collapses.
    As the church gets farther from its Jewish roots, the less important Judean customs become, since few converts will have any idea what they were. Hence, Jesus is created in the church’s image.

  40. Jesse says:

    Interesting…

  41. rocelle says:

    ‘Jesus said unto “them” meaning prural….. not refer to single person…..

  42. Bob says:

    Humans are uncomfortable with change.Our brains tell us for our preservation to turn down or be afraid of change. However, change goes on inspite of our fear of new ideas or change. The Catholic church taught that the world was flat, that only GOD could do certain things when it came to changes in living things. You can’t clone or geneticly modify living things. If ideas can’t change you wouldn’t have the concept of Jesus Christ being GOD which is only two thousand years old and the 5000 plus protestant denominations. So what if Jesus had a wife. What’s all the fuss about?

  43. Paul Ballotta says:

    This alleged union between Jesus and Mary probably had little if any bearing on the early church teaching in regard to the character of Jesus. As commentator Gary #19 mentioned, Jesus posed a threat to the establishment, not adhering to the authority of those who made a career of positioning themselves between your hand and mouth with dietary laws. In the Christian Gnostic work, “The Second Treatise of the Great Seth” we find similar sentiment:
    “For they had a doctrine of angels to observe dietary laws and bitter slavery, since they never knew the truth, nor will they know it.”
    It was incumbant on the corrupt religious leaders to keep people occupied with all those ritual observances while they struggled to live from hand to mouth, not aware of what assets their leaders could gobble up with no one watching. Naturally these control freaks would want someone like Jesus out of the way.
    Once I was intrigued by the use of Platonic philosophy in later Christian writings and turned my attention toward the early writings of Plato. In particular it was in the act of healing the blind man in John 9:6, when Jesus spat on the ground and molded clay to put on the man’s eyes. This to me represented the Platonic world of forms, the archetypical symbols through which our reason can comprehend hidden mysteries. An example is found in Hebrews 8:5 regarding the tabernacle; “They worship in a copy and a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary…” It will be remembered that the arcetypical man, Adam, was formed (yozer) out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) and the creatures he gave names to were also formed (yozer) out of the ground (Genesis 2:19). In the Kabbalah, paradise is located in the universe above us, the world of Yetzirah (formation) while the universe we inhabit is the world of Asiyah (making). The lower world is known in the Kabbalah as daughter or bride, while the upper world is known as son or groom. Therefore Christ says in reference to spiritual blindness in “The second Treatise of the Great Seth”:
    “Do not become female, lest you give birth to evil…”
    Apparently the apostle Peter got it when he had a vision about the ritually unclean animals in Act 10:9-15, being lowered down from heaven on a sheet, revealing that even the dietary laws were a type nof mystery.
    As for Plato, I never did indulge much, after having a dream in which I was in a tower and seated on the floor with a book on Plato. When I looked up there were men sitting there who did not want me there. Then I was falling and could see the grassy field and trees below on an otherwise beautiful day and heard a man’s voice say, “Death will make you see.” Years later I recognized those men as being the members of a cabal depicted in an episode of The X-Files entitled, “Anaszi.” They were portrayed as manipulating world events from behind the scenes, unbeknown to the general public.

  44. Krzysztof says:

    Matthew 19:12 is not known to anyone?

  45. Krzysztof says:

    Entertaining. “Christ is risen” (1Cor 15:20) and it does not matter he was married or not!Matthew 19:12 opts for the first (also Q in Luke 14: 25 also 14:20- rejection also the fie with “wife”).Why is there?
    Are scholars…nuts?

  46. Helen Spalding says:

    Celibate clergy was not an issue in the early church. Paul commends bishops to have only one wife in a world of potentially multiple wives. Peter was married, for Jesus healed his mother-in-law.

    Paul commends itinerant evangelists such as himself to remain unmarried, and thus unfettered by family concerns. He also believed that Jesus was returning soon, and that the sole task was to move the Gospel outward at a frenetic pace.

    Only as you add Greeks into the church do you begin to see a split on sexuality as a good (Hebrew) or dirty/bad (Greek) thing.

    Many of those excluded “Gospels” were spurious which denied the humanity of Jesus.

    As to the diversity of the Church, there are three ancient branches predating the Protestant Reformation — Copts (also included in the Orthodox tradition), Eastern/Byzantine Orthodox in its varied hues w/a married clergy, and Roman Catholics. The Copts require their clergy to marry, so a celibate clergy is out there. The rest of the Orthodox tradition allows for priests to marry but bishops to be celibate. If a man wants to become a bishop, he will not marry prior to ordination. An Orthodox priest remains in the marital status he has at ordination. Obviously, the Reform movement is far more wide open to who may become a priest or equivalent. Nestorians were all but wiped off the face of the map during the muslim conquest of Central Asia. As an aside, Afghanistan, once called Bactria, was not just Buddhist territory, but it was also full of Christians and Jews along the Silk Road.

    The Roman church gets all tangled up in human sexuality and has yet to disentangle herself. The perpetual virginity of Mary, her assumption, her immaculate conception are all extra-Biblical as is celibate clergy. Sex within marriage only for procreation is equally extra-Biblical. This duality on sexuality stems fm Greco-Roman ideas being added to church teaching as the faith spread through the Med basin.

  47. Gary W. Harper says:

    While even as a seven year old reading the Gospels I understood the Magdalene to be Yeshua’s wife, I am still open to suggestion. At the current time, it can neither be proven nor disproved. In a time when they fell constantly by attrition in many conflicts, all Jews were expected to marry, and those who did not and did not have children were considered to be cursed by Hashem. This is the reality of the time. Also, the Nazarite, with his vows that kept him from the good things in life, was considered to be cursed.

    Yeshuah was a Nazarene. He lived in a farming area of 100 to 200 people, visited the Synagogue in the Hellenized political center of Seporris (which was a multicultural, pagan city with a Jewish presence), knew well the town, and either worked there, or produced goods for the citizens there. Joseph was not a carpenter. He was an artisan, which includes woodworking. Consider Joseph’s skills to be the same as Aaron’s in the wilderness.

    Nazareth is in the region of Galilee, but not far from Samaria, which separates Galilee from Judea / Benjamin. Samaritans and Galileans were not all literate, often did not go down to the Temple in Jerusalem for the festivals, and often did not go to synagogue on the Sabbath. Life simply was too hard for the poor Jewish People of the Land for them to concern themselves with such Southern, Judean things. That is another country, full of priests and scholars, who follow the letter of the law. In Galilee and Samaria, people lived, and enjoyed what they could while they could, and did not concern themselves with the finer points of the law. This is the environment Yeshua grew up in.

    It is worth noting that during the Second Temple destruction and later, when the Kittim finally fully subjugated the south, in Sepphoris and much of Samaria and Galilee, they invited the Kittim in, and their cities and populations were spared. Yeshua did not grow up in a vacuum. He grew up in a vibrant, mostly pagan, multicultural society.

    So, was he married? Most likely. Understand that sex being defiling was a more southern, stick-in-the-mud, sticklers for the fine points of the Law concept. To the north, they loved life, and were not adverse to gleaning grain on the Sabbath, if they were hungry.

    The Judean hatred for the apostate Galilee and Samaria has to be considered when reading of Yeshuah’s visits to Jerusalem and its environs. Mashiach cannot rise from an apostate area, was the southern perspective. Yeshua’s message was dangerous to the established priesthood and their stranglehold on the psyche of the Jewish nation. The north had already thrown their hands off of their throats and hearts. The priesthood thought that if Yeshua’s message became current in the south, the pure Jewish nation of the Law would cease to exist. Yeshua was probably the most dangerous prophet they had ever encountered. They had to do everything they could to discount him, to save their own institution.

  48. Daniel Yagolkowski says:

    Is it possible that the papyrus and the ink had been used by a modern expert in ancient languages to forge this document?

  49. Wardell says:

    The ral story is that Karen King is so bound to “Church Mythology”, that she can’t see that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.. Read the Gospel of John, 19:25-27. When Jesus was dying on the cross, his mother and his aunt and his wife Mary Magdalene and his son , the disciple “whom Jesus loved”, were present.

    Jesus was speaking to Mary Magdalene, his wife and his son, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

    Karen King and others read but cannot understand the Gospel of John.. The Disciple whom Jesus loved is in John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7,20..

    Read these sections in John’s Gospel and see Jesus as Father to the disciple “whom Jesus loved”.
    Read John’s Gospel and see Mary Magdalene as Wife to Jesus, in his work, at his death and at his resurrection. Church Dogma, has made “Bible Scholars” blind to the clear picture of the Jesus Family portrayed in John’s Gospel..

    Finally, the Jesus Family Tomb is in Talpiot Jerusalem is foretold in John’s Gospel !

    Ther is non so blind as those who will not to see.

  50. Paul says:

    My response is simple; The Hebrew Bible, All translations into Greek, Aramaic and Latin. Don’t forget the Torah writings in ketav Ashurit as it became Lashon HaKodesh.
    Stop looking for scripture in the rocks which will never prove anything and praise the Lord while you continually search his scriptures. The rock(s) serve their purpose in reference to Christ and his Church, aldo it will be the only place to run to for the damned and the demons. Salvation lies within the Scriptures which have always existed.

  51. Phil N says:

    We know that when the Christian bible was codified there many gospels and holy books excluded. Whether they were correct in the books recognized and excluded is a matter of faith. That contradictory gospels exist is not surprising. The big surprise is that we have been able to find as many as we have found.

  52. Robert Newman says:

    Any Coptic scholar (a very rare breed) should be able to see serious problems with the translation given.
    1) the word that is supposedly the word “said” is not clearly read
    2) as a rule the word “said” is followed by the word “je” which introduces speech (kind of like opening quote marks do). This word is missing!
    3) the only grammatical exception to point 2 above is the Parenthetical Peje (see Bently Layton’s grammar pg426). If we are to understand the crucial words as words of Jesus, Jesus speech would have to have been properly introduced earlier but such is not found in the text at hand.
    4) Just two lines earlier a disciple starts to speak, we don’t know how wide the page was, but there hardly seems space for the disciple’s words proper introduction of Jesus speech some words of Jesus then the supposed parenthetical introduction of further words of Jesus.

    So the translation given is problematic.
    A possiblity with fewer problems is that the disciple is telling Jesus something about his (the disciple’s) woman/wife, but since so much of text text is missing we cannot put the conversation together.

    This is most likely a fanciful Gnostic tale like so many other so-called Gospels.

  53. pjt says:

    We’ve turned Jesus into a myth by trying to remove his humanity. A secure relationship with God doesn’t panic every time a discovery is made or another possibility surfaces. I welcome any sound research based on scholarship.

  54. Elizabeth Anderson says:

    As a Spiritual Christian I can understand why other believes don’t want to be open to Jesus’ s HUMANITY. It challenges their childhood concepts. If you study Biblical history you will find many proven facts that differ from what our knowledge is now , up to date, is incomplete. So what if Jesus was married, that doesn’t take away from the fact the the writings of the old Testaments point to Him as the Chosen One. We are finding LOST BOOKS AND PERSON STORES NEVER SEEN BEFORE. Christians need to be open – minded to new views and let the Holy Spirit interpret what is each individuals truth.

  55. Krzysztof says:

    Matthew 19:12 points to Jesus being married before conversiton (baptism scenes)
    ps. and interesting debate on the honesty of scholars!

  56. Krzysztof says:

    INteresting for sure: are scholars honest or not? Jesus is alive regardles he was married or not! I opt for first -Matthew 19:12!Also Q in luke rejecting any family ties! From the blue skie or his life?

  57. waynef7 says:

    I have to agree with Raja. What if? Rabbi’s married and were given in marriage.

  58. Raja Mahendran says:

    What difference does it make if Jesus was married or not? Does not change his teachings in any way. It would have made a difference if his teaching was celibacy. It was not. He taught us to love one another and love God. Jesus did all the human activities like eating, drinking, crying, laughing, wearing clothes and he even died so what if he was married? In the Bible there is no word for wife as such. The word for woman could be translated wife or simply woman. So what if he addressed a woman as ” My woman” that was a normal way those days to address a women.

  59. Anthony Moraes. says:

    The scripture is misinterpreted

  60. Aziz Haddad says:

    Many lies were told – ancient and new – about the life and death of Jesus.
    Even in thr gospels we read about jews leaders conspiring againt the resurrection: “let us spread the word that his disciplrs came in the night and stole his body”.
    Is it hard for them to write a lie concerning Jesus celibacy?
    From this perspective, the papyrus is authentically ancient, but still a lie.
    ANCIENT – AND – FALSE…

  61. charles lynch says:

    to think that a teacher or rabbi of Jesus time wise not married is Ni-eve to say the lest just be cos it does not fit to our way of thinking at 33 he would have had a wife family as most marriages were arranged sought to help the peoples family not to under mine his teaching he also had siblings common-sense tells of this

  62. Jeanne Richards says:

    New discoveries and evidence concerning the life of Jesus—whether it be the “historical” Jesus” or the “Jesus of the gospels”—and his followers are ongoing, and the scholarly perception of who he was, and how the early Christian community saw him continues to evolve. One should not simply ignore or discount new discoveries and insights into the lives of Jesus and his followers. Rather we should examine whether or not new evidence changes our perception and understanding of him: as the Christ, as a man, and of his mission.

    It will be interesting to see whether the validity of this particular papyrus fragment pans out or not. At minimum, the fragment has stimulated a dialogue on Jesus’ own life—as a man, and as a religious leader—as well as the views of the early Christian community on celibacy, sex, and marriage. If the fragment does turn out to be genuine, and researchers can point to other ancient documents to support the claim that Jesus was married as I myself believe, it will drastically change our perceptions of Jesus, his mission, and even the role of women in the early Christian community. In any case, we should never stop seeking the Truth. In his own words, Jesus tell us: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”
    JB Richards
    Author of “Miriamne the Magdala”- The First Chapter in the “Yeshua and Miri Novel Series” and Content Creator for The Miriamne Page

    For more information on this novel series, and The Miriamne Page, just click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Miriamne-the-Magdala-First-in-the-Series-of-the-Yeshua-Miri-Novels/206903979347028

  63. Kamil says:

    “There has been no significant break in the Church theology until 1500 years AD.”
    Yeah… well…early church fathers would not agree with RCC tradition, and most of them sticked to the scriptures as a final authority. But I agree that Jesus will come for his Bridegroom.

  64. lew says:

    The Scripture is always telling us about the spiritual Kingdom of our Lord Jesus which is unseen and real. He is God who manifests among us in the spiritual realm.

  65. Lowell Blankenship says:

    I could not agree more with Steve’s comment, to which I can only add that movies have been some people’s only contact with things Biblical. And if you believe fantasy, and entertainment for money, it’s my opinion you’re leaving out the greatest detail…knowledge.

  66. Steve Roberts says:

    Lots of Apocryphal writings out there. Also millions of interpretations of Scripture! This is why Tradition is of the greatest importance. There has been no significant break in the Church theology until 1500 years AD. Also for consideration, is the fact that Jesus did in fact have a spouse, she is called the Church! He is the Bridegroom, and we are His bride!

  67. Paul Ballotta says:

    All of this fuss over the authenticity of this fragment won’t matter to the general public since this is the stuff that movies are made out of, like that episode of the X-Files entitled “Hollywood A.D.” which also includes a “Gospel of Mary Magdalene.”

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