By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - A newly revealed, centuries-old papyrus fragment suggests that some early Christians might have believed Jesus was married. The fragment, written in Coptic, a language used by Egyptian Christians, says in part, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ..."
Harvard Divinity School Professor Karen King announced the findings of the 1 1/2- by 3-inch honey-colored fragment on Tuesday in Rome at the International Association for Coptic Studies.
King has been quick to add this discovered text "does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married," she wrote in a draft of her analysis of the fragment set to appear in the January edition of Harvard Theological Review. The divinity school has posted a draft of King's article to which AnneMarie Luijendijk, an associate professor of religion at Princeton University, contributed.
"This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that (Jesus) was married, nor does it prove that he was not married. The earliest reliable historical tradition is completely silent on that. So we're in the same position we were before it was found. We don't know if he was married or not," King said in a conference call with reporters.
"What I'm really quick to say is to cut off people who would say this is proof that Jesus was married because historically speaking, it's much too late to constitute historical evidence," she continued. "I'm not saying he was, I'm not saying he wasn't. I'm saying this doesn't help us with that question," she continued.
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In the accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible, there is no mention of his marital status, while the accounts do mention Jesus' mother, father and siblings. The four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - tell the story of Jesus' birth and early childhood then skip to his short, three-year ministry before detailing his death and resurrection.
The idea that Jesus was married is not a new one.
In other writings about the life of Jesus from antiquity suggest Jesus may have been married to Mary Magdalene, a disciple who was close to Jesus. Author Dan Brown also used the idea of Jesus being married as a jumping off point for the fictional novel "The Da Vinci Code." King dismissed that notion in her call with reporters.
“There’s no indication we have that Jesus was married,” said Darrell Bock, a senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. “One could say the text is silent on Jesus’ marital status is because there was nothing to say.”
Initial dating for the honey-colored fragment by the team of scholars puts the papyrus piece coming out of the middle of the second century.
King is referring to the fragment as the "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" or "GosJesWife" as a short hand for reference, and noting that the abbreviation does not mean this scrap has the same historical weight as the canonical Gospels.
Biblical scholars often use the term gospel to refer to a genre of ancient writings featuring dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, King notes in her paper. The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Judas are just a few of the ancient accounts about the life of Jesus that Christians do not consider canonical.
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At the conference, King said another professor suggested the fragment could have come from the text of a homily, or sermon, where the writer was using this phrase as a literary device. She told reporters that while she will consider that as a possibility, the fragment is “probably a gospel. Probably from the second century and most close to the Gospels of Mary, Thomas and Philip.”
Bock agreed with the notion that the text fragment shared similarities with those gospels, called the Gnostic Gospels, which were the writings of an early outlier sect of Christians. He said the text could be referring to a "gnostic rite of marriage that is a picture of the church and Jesus, not a real wife."
But he added, "it’s a small text with very little context. We don’t know what’s wrapped around it to know what it’s saying.”
Bock said it’s likely to be a gnostic text if it proves to be authentic. “The whole text needs vetting. She’s doing the right thing to release it and let scholars take a look at,” he said, adding “it’s a little bit like trying to analyze the game in the first quarter.”
“It’s a historical curiosity but doesn’t really tell us who Jesus was,” Bock said. “It’s one small speck of a text in a mountain of texts of about Jesus.”
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The owner of the fragment has been identified by King as a private collector who has asked to stay anonymous. The owner brought the fragment to Harvard have King examine it in December 2011.
King then brought it to the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. Roger Bagnall, the institute's director and an expert on papyrus, examined it and determined it to be authentic, Bangall confirmed to CNN.
Ariel Shisha-Halevy, professor of linguistics at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, who was asked to examine the authenticity, according to the draft of the article, told King via e-mail, “I believe - on the basis of language and grammar - the text is authentic. That is to say, all its grammatical ‘noteworthy’ features, separately or conjointly, do not warrant condemning it as forgery.”
Little is known about the origin of the text. Because both sides of the fragment have writing on them, King said it could have come out of a book rather than a scroll.
"Just like most of the earliest papyri of the New Testament and other literary and documentary papyri, a fragment this damaged could have come from an ancient garbage heap," the King says building on prior research by Luijendijk.
King writes "the importance of the 'Gospel of Jesus’ Wife' lies in supplying a new voice within the diverse chorus of early Christian traditions about Jesus that documents that some Christians depicted Jesus as married."
The Smithsonian Channel also announced Monday that it will air a special on King's findings on September 30.
Didn't Jesus refer to the Church as his Bride...and also commanded husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church. Could it be that simple, lots of metaphors are used. My 2 cents, :-)........ A day with the Lord is as a thousand years(long time for us), maybe 7 days Creation was 7,000 years and Noah's 40/days/40nights was 40,000days/40,000 nights... :-) Might explain the Grand Canyon and Appalachian and why S. America and Africa look like matches... CArry on!
Seriously, on a boat for 40,000 days? That sucks.
It is called Plate Tectonics, look it up.
So Noah was on a boat with two of every animal (except dinosaurs) for 40,000 days, not 40?? Jeez, why didn't they just say so? I totally believe it now.
Just wondering....how many Christians are burning, killing and looting because many of you on this comment board are insulting Jesus?
Spike is about a 50 cent cab ride away from doing it. Otherwise, we could just call together a flash mob and sing 'Amazing Grace', I guess
Ah, but Christianity has a really bad history of having done horrific things like burning heretics and pressing witches to death under rocks and inquisitions and torture and war and all. Islam came 600 years after Jesus, and they are where you were 600 years ago.
Spike is but he's so stupid he's doing it at his house. Sad.
All of them, then they blame the Muslims.
Are we counting the crusades, or...?
Jesus said to them, "My wife...rules my house. And this is the way it should be."
Sounds good to me!
Language referenced as Jesus being married coincides with the canonical gospels that the Church is the bride of Christ. Always amazing how non-theologians jump on the wife band wagon and educated scholars are fully aware of the parables and symbology.
Given that there is no passage where Jesus is recorded to have made such an utterance, I would think you'd be overjoyed to learn of this fragment, then.
One thing the Bible absolutely does NOT say, anywhere, in any form at all, is that Jesus WASN'T married. Given the culture at the time, it is extremely likely that he was, and the commonality of the fact simply didn't bear mention. In fact, it would have been so odd at the time for a man his age NOT to be married that it would certainly have merited comment.
Not as amazing as how bible-thumpers reject and ignore all facts and evidence put in front of their eyes
It so so funny how people point to "what wasn't said". One only need look at Jesus giving John his mother to care for and he did not do this for another. It is important to know Hebrew tradition – again, non-theolgian mind vs the theologian mind. One is educated and ine is just speculative.
Any historian of theology would know that at the time that this fragment was written, the idea of the Church being the "Bride of Christ" had not yet been created (let alone the CATHOLIC church which originated the idea, as this was a COPTIC fragment).
Oh Sarah – another person with their own history that does not know the Bible. Read Paul and learn.
AF is wrong.
Oh – and read John and Isaiah and Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Amazing how it all just randomly connects – not.
AF, in Ephesians Paul was using a metaphor. That metaphor was only utilized and adapted as canonical many centuries later. I've actually taken classes in Christian hermeneutics and the history of Christian theology. Have you?
Oh, you have taken some classes. How nice for you, keep at it and you will learn much more. Bible is more than just compartmentalized reading and if you took those classes at a fundamentalist venue then you didn't learn as a theologian learns.
Now AF's wrong and acting like a snot. That's a terrible combo.
AF AF AF
ABSOLUTELY NO contemporary objective evidence that this person existed -ZERO!!! No Roman records, no contemporary writers of any kind, no archeological evidence of any kind, not even any records from the Jewish temple- NOTHING! So stop acting like this person existed.
Let me give you a metaphor- I am a Broncos fan and hate the Raiders. Someone comes along and says they found proof that the Raiders are the living sons of god but only they can see the proof. So now I'm supposed to be a Raiders fan based on them saying I should be a Raiders fan. Should I just accept it and become a Raiders fan? NO, the burden of proof for extraordinary claims lays with YOU and there is no proof that the Raiders are the sons of god. So just stop it! Read history, free and then Yooz your brain.
It also is used in Gnostic and other fringe-cult "gospels" to refer to Mary Magdalene. Neither reference is clear in this scrap, nor do either prove or disprove whether or not Jesus was legally married.
We just found another fragment! Jesus' wife's name was Larry!!!
Can we finally take "Jesus" off this godly pedestal. Can we stop thinking the whole world is only 6,000 years old, There is no magic man in the sky.
Guess what, when we die.....we die. Sorry but that's it. The Christian "religion" is no better than the archaic stupid muslim "religion"
It's all a joke and such a waste of time. How many lives and years of productivity have been lost because of wars or actions over friggen religion.
Can we get onto things that actually matter now???
jesus married? jesus was g.ay. isn't it obvious? washboard abs, long hair, hung out with 12 dudes... go g.ay jesus!
Jesus was black too.
According to Family Guy he worked at a records sore in Quahaug, RI.
nope is a dope
There is nothing that absolutely proves that Jesus had ever existed let alone had a wife. That is not to say that he did not exist nor is it to say he was or was not married. His existance and sacrifice are taken on faith and whether he was married or not has no bearing on that.
Yeah, I guess tons of people back then just liked writing comic books about a guy named Jesus who liked to suffer for fun. Get some education and quit making up your own history.
No serious scholars of antiquities deny the existence of Jesus. There are over 30 extra biblical texts that reference Jesus including entire volumes trying to dispute Jesus claims to divinity. Not all records available so far discovered agree with the Bible several were written in dispute by authors in the 1st century A.D. (Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord)
Yeah, it is really strange that we're supposed to accept that some rabble-rouser, who fit all of these various deific motifs from the Mediterranean era, was wandering around Judea without any mention in the historical or administrative records of the time. They record John the Baptist, but not Jesus. Personally, I think the evidence is pretty clear that Jesus was a pseudo-mythological persona created in the first few centuries by a small religious group. That theory seems to best fit. There really is no contemporary evidence of Jesus's existence whatsoever.
Gosh AF, you are so smart.
OK Christians – here is our call to rally.
We all need to meet at the Coptic Church and protest peacefully just like the Muslims are doing in Egypt, and all those other ME places.
Bring tacos and Kool-Aid!
make sure to put the ars.enic in the kool-aid first so the others don't know they are about to meet their friend
I sure hope he didn't! Can you imagine all the trouble finding the bloodline of Jesus would cause, it's bad enough that we already have to deal with a pope! You'd have a family of super-popes ruling as kings and queens over much more than just nations. If he had a wife, I sure hope she never had any children and god help us if she did.
That's where the phrase "you think your God" comes in or "God's gift to women/men" lol and "Who died and made you God?"
If this fragment is legit, it could be interpreted a number of ways. He could have been speaking allegorically in reference to the church as his bride.
Evangelical Rule of Thumb:
If a Bible verse (or discovery) furthers the cause, it is to be taken literally.
If a Bible verse (or discovery) is detrimental to the cause, it is either: taken out of context; is allegorical or metaphorical; refers to another verse somewhere else; is an ancient cultural anomaly; is a translation or copyist's error; means something other than what it actually says; is a mystery of god or not discernible by humans; or is just plain magic.
And here I thought Jesus was gay.
Which is why Jesus gave the world aids.
nope, that was jesus' brother bob
Soo much fun today, thank you thank you thank you!!! Brain use is FUN! ;-D
So, if he didn't have a wife, that means he was gay, right?
Beard, no beard, what's the difference?
Nothing anyone says about my religion can shake my faith. It's strong. I can even joke about it, see? ;)
It's a mystery to me why anyone cares whether Jesus was married or not.
Because if you were wrong about something that you "knew" to be the truth, then you become aware (whether you want to or not) that it is possible to be wrong about other things, like, for instance, the "knowledge" that Jesus rose from the dead...
...and if you can admit this to yourself, then you have just admitted that it is entirely possible that the most important thing in your life is a fabrication, and thus organizing your life around such a belief was a gross mistake.
This is what happens when you live your life by dogma people. It will all unravel before you...
it's a matter of historic significance as milestone archeological find. I don't think the people involved with it directly are making anything more of it than this. In this respect though, it's important.
I'm waiting with the definition of irony close by for the x-tians to come out and call this fragment a man-made fraud, while asserting that the rest of the biblical fragments from the same period are direct from god. Ho hum.
A group of cardinals asked for a meeting with the Pope to discuss "celibacy". They wanted to know if the Pope would do some further research on this subject to see if in fact they really were supposed to remain "celibate" for their entire lives.
After some discussion, the Pope explained he had already been doing some research on this subject and had had some ancient scripts brought to his office where he was in the process of reviewing them at that moment. He suggested the cardinals hang around for the afternoon while he poured through the ancient texts to see if he could find any decree that the clergy were supposed to remain "celibate".
The cardinals all sat around for the afternoon silently waiting. Late in the day, an agonized howl poured from the office of the Pope.
The cardinals all sprang to their feet and burst through the door to the Pope's office.
The Pope was sitting with his head in his hands, an defeated expression on his face, staring at an ancient text. He slowly looked up at the concerned faces of the cardinals and said....
"CeliBRATE...the word was celiBRATE!"
haha nice one, some priests won't b laughing if it turns out true.
Prayer changes things .
Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!
I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL, DUDE".
I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:
I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
by the Alzheimer's Disease Society
Catchy but totally inaccurate. Raise children and other living things (dogs? plants? microbes?) on truth is much healthier and will make them better adjusted.
Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things and prayer changing things are proven Truths. God bless
Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things "
These are the same person, pretty sad they're so desperate.
Really? Does mom know? Post your proofs please . God bless
Just sayin? where's your proof? The only proof I've seen is that organized religion has caused tremendous suffering. You claim to have "Truth". Where's your proof? Waving the Bible by the way is not enough...
Proofs for prayer have been posted repeatedly. One more time and one positive example of prayer changing things is the life of William Wilberforce and the end of the English slave trade. As to the unhealthy nature of atheism we look to the millions of innocents murdered by atheists in the past hundred years or so. People like atheist Joseph Stalin who is credited with over sixty million murders, not counting war dead. Is murder considered a healthy thing by you ? God bless
"People like atheist Joseph Stalin who is credited with over sixty million murders, not counting war dead. Is murder considered a healthy thing by you ? "
Religion has killed far more people in human history, just turn on your TV idiot.
Actually, it's been scientifically proven that it doesn't.
Just sayin Stalin didn't kill for atheism.Stop making biased assertions.
"prayer changing things is the life of William Wilberforce"
He was a drug addict at the end of his life addicted to opium.
Stalin killed because he was an atheist, not in the name of atheism. It is not unusual for atheist dictators to mass murder, they all do it. More people have been tortured and killed by atheists in the past century than were killed in all previous centuries. Do the math. God bless
Yes. It does do something. But for the same reason chanting does and meditation does and why placebos work. In all cases the change is inside the person. Nothing else. If it makes you feel good and does no harm then why not?
Prayer changes nothing.And where did you get this evidence that he killed because of atheism.
Because stalin did not like religion cannot be the same for atheists.And communism enforced that position.Not the atheism.
And don't mention the past in this.
Actually Jesus you're wrong about what Atheism said, prayer changes things by not doing anything and allowing the natural (disastrous) course of events to transpire. So taken literally, prayer DOES change things, FOR THE WORSE, you know, speaking objectively and scientifically and all, yoozing my gob-given braims that glob gave me. To use.
Hey can we be done with the Stalin/Mao atheists are killers connection? There's a human trait called "sociopathy" and it has nothing to do with religion. See this is where brain-use gets in the way of brain-wash. Sociopaths will use whatever tool they want to further their own ends so their emphasis on this or that is essentially meaningless except as a window into the inner workings of their own sociopathic mind. They could have just as easily used chrisitianity or any other mind-control device, they just didn't need them for the cultural milieu in which they existed. Sorry to use such big words...YOOZYERDAMBRAIN!
That's funny, I seem to be doing better than a lot of my religious peers.
Atheists are often very smug, preachy and judgmental. Read most of their responses here for proof.
At what point in school does one have to drop out to end up as mind numbingly dumb as just sayin?
Ruh Roh Shaggy!
I can confirm that Jesus was married with children. Proven through DNA testing from samples of sweat and blood found on the shroud of Turin, I am a descendant of Jesus. For those who question my validity, you must reaffirm your faith, for I am your true GOD. Now, as your one and only GOD, give me your MONEY!! Do not curse me, for surely I shall smite thee.
I'd like a smite please, it's been forever since I had a good smite....
LOL, done! What is the mystic paypal account that I must use?
Hey Buddy I'm pretty sure "smite" is a drinking word per Sam...
Mmmmmm.....peanut butter and smite......
Smite is a chugging word. Bottom's up, everyone!
actually, I believe the accurate translation is:
"Jesus said to them "take my wife, ... please"
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.