In 2012, Karen King, historian from the Harvard Divinity School, revealed the discovery of a papyrus fragment, dubbed the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” that suggests that Jesus had a wife. The announcement created an uproar among the Christian community, and academics from the Vatican immediately deemed the document a “clumsy forgery.”
The badly-aged papyrus contained a message with eight legible ink lines on the front, and six faded lines on the back written in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian Christian language.
According to a recent paper published in the Harvard Theological Review that was published on Tuesday, the fragment is not fake. Scientists have been studying the papyrus for the last year-and-half to confirm its validity. Now, they are concluding that the fragment possibly dates back to as far as the fourth century.
In the paper, King said that their new finding does not confirm that Jesus had a wife. “I’m basically hoping that we can move past the issue of forgery to questions about the significance of this fragment for the history of Christianity,” she said.
King also said that the fragment suggests that women can also be disciples of Jesus. When the fragment was first released, it sparked controversy as there have been years of debates over marriage and sexuality in the religion of Christianity. The Catholic Church also believes Jesus to be celibate, and that is one of the main reasons why priests are not allowed to marry or have sex.
Studies revealed that the lines from the papyrus fragment forms a conversation between Jesus and his disciples. When the fourth line was deciphered, it said, “Jesus said to them, my wife.” On the fifth line, the message reads, “… she will be able to be my disciple.”
New Testament professor, Hal Taussig, said that the message on the papyrus fragment is “breathtaking.” He also said that the message supports the idea of Mary Magdalene being one of the prominent leaders in the Jesus movement.
He also discussed the result of having a non-celibate Jesus, which will be a “huge shift” for the church, but said that it may make married people feel closer to Jesus.
Reverend James Martin, a Jesuit who released a travelogue about the life of Jesus, also commented on the fragment, saying that there are several pieces of evidence that Jesus was never married. He also said that it if Jesus had a wife, the Gospel writers would have mentioned it somehow.
Did Jesus Really Have A Wife?
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