September 18th, 2012
03:28 PM ET
Newly revealed Coptic fragment has Jesus making reference to 'my wife'
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.
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.
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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.
Look get over it, I was not married to a woman. My gay-lover and I secretly shared a hut. We had to hide from my pedophile father god-the child ra.per that he is. I did not walk on water...I only told people I did to see what they would do. My Mommy is a sl.ut and Joseph is a drunkard.
How can you be happy with yourself to live such a comment? How is it that you type something that like that and actually enjoy it? Do you really type this and tell yourself "yesss this is good and funny"? Like how is that you go to that level that you actually enjoy such a thing? And you type it and post it and then go on with your life? I just don't see how someone can be like this and actually enjoy doing this regardless of what this article is about. Is this your personality? I really don't get it. I guess I would have to be someone like you to understand.
This was actually a punch line from a very, very old joke: "That was no Lady...That was...MY WIFE"
There is no reason to think this story about a magical man, or any other story written about him, is about a real person. They told stories about fictional heroes all the time.
Any reason to believe harry truman was a real person?
Yes, masses and masses and masses of contemporary, verifiable evidence about his existence- compare that to ZERO contemporary evidence that Jesus existed.
mud – photographic evidence. a ver.ifiable lineage, video evidence, his personal writings, corresp.ondence written to him during his life. official government doc.uments, and probably a birth certificate.
wow, that isn't like the fabled jesus at all.
All easily faked with NSA tech and propaganda. heh, heh
At least that's what the survivors will be saying a couple hundred years from now.
Arguing that Harry Truman was not real does not in any way bolster an argument for the existence of jesus or any god. In fact, arguing that it's possible to fake a person's existence is only supportive of the argument that jesus was a fake.
Regardless of whether or not he was married, the historical Jesus seemed to have viewed women with more respect than the church that was built in his name.
What historical Jesus? Where is there evidence that a non magical person associated with these stories ever existed? Stories about a magical man who supposedly died decades before the stories were written, are NOT evidence of a non magical person existing.
Amen to that!
Where is the translation of the entire text?
The rest of the text wasn't included because it said "Rinse, Lather, Repeat".
"Have I got a joke for you.....
if you click on the draft link in the article it will show you
There were lots of writings about Christianity. There is no reason to assume that any of them, other than those accepted by the early church (recorded in the Bible) were factual, or written by those close to Jesus. Many writings were by groups attempting to justify themselves to gain political power, or include a worship of Jesus into an existing religion. As for Jesus being married, this was rejected in the 1st century by the early Christian churches.
Theres no reason to believe ANY of them. Period.
"There is no reason to assume that any of them, other than those accepted by the early church (recorded in the Bible) were factual..."
And what reason is there to assume that "those accepted by the early church" were factual either?
And the writings that were accepted as canon were accepted by a group trying to keep and maintain power.
Any reason to believe harry truman was a barkeep?
HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL
"Any reason to believe harry truman was a barkeep?"
Has a religion that wishes to control government, laws and public policy been established from that fact?
What you just said was......
If its in the bible its true.
If it aint in the bible its false.
How sad for you.
It was never mentioned in the Bible that Jesus ever had to drop a collossal deuce, but i'm sure he did.
This will be just like the Book of Judas which was discovered... if it doesn't fit with their pre layed out narrative they will shoot it down.
Christian's are not interested in actual history any more than they are interested in actual science and facts, they just want to cherry pick info. to support their beliefs.
A vote for Obama is worse than a vote for Hitler.
SAVE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNDER THE ONE TRUE GOD!
VOTE FOR ROMNEY THIS NOVEMBER
Nominated for the most hyperbolic comment yet
I think it's really nice that your trailer park manager lets you play with his computer.
"SAVE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNDER THE ONE TRUE GOD!"
God of the Mormons Maybe, not the same as anyone else's god.
I hope the Rapture comes for you Romney 2012. It would do all of us a lot of good.
In Romeny we trust! He is our savior and fights beside Jesus in the battle for good! Obama will eat for children. He should be in chains!
which of the many one true gods would that be?
I see the Romney campaign is keeping to it's high moralistic standards that it held during the primaries.
A vote for Romney is equivelant to a vote for Satan... right back at ya', you insane moron.
Worse than Hitler? really?!?
Anyone that would make comments like "A vote for Obama is like a vote for Hitler," and "Obama will eat your children," are not actually Christians. Your the ones who claim to be Christians, but do nothing more than tarnish Gods name.
@ one true christian mother. Yes 'romeny' is cu.m.ing. Bend over and like it. Moron.
If more Christians studied the history of the Bible and the history of the early Church, not just the Bible itself, I think they would have much greater perspective on their religion, what has been taught to them and some of the why's (who decided what was 'right' and what was 'wrong' in early teachings) and how they have come to believe what they do.
Sadly, most don't and most won't.
One huge problem with this is that nearly everyone simply assumes that there was a historical Jesus. What if Jesus never existed? What if Jesus is a myth, like Heracles and Attis and Krishna? That would make this and every other discourse regarding Christianity completely senseless.
Indeed. My point was that studying the history of how one's belief system got to them can lead to that sort of revelation or perhaps a different acceptance of it based on the question of why did some core beliefs (that transcend many different religions) make it through. It doesn't have to be a zombie Jesus or a magical guy in the sky, just a question of why do humans find this message.
ok.. that was my deep as a puddle thought for the day. Back to snarky comments.
The point is not whether this nonsense is true. It should be noted that Christians are not going to take to the streets and burn the news agency offices that print this.
Stop running a NON story just PURE speculation. If we behaved as muslims there would be roiting, buring and killing.
How about focus on REAL news not running sensationalism B/S as if it were real. Even the people releasing the fragment acknowledge it means NOTHING but CNN and your lame anchors keep referencing it as if it were fact.
Relax Francis. Don't get your panties in a bunch over people studying ancient texts.
The fragment is real. The word "wife" on the fragment is real.
The article itself nor the researcher claim that it "proves" anything.
It is simply an announcement of findings about a newly 'discovered' docu.ment fragment, so take it easy, please.
Why dont you go to the real news section and leave the rest of us alone
Islam is the answer Jesus is not god just respected messenger to Jews try to understand read the quran
Please provide verifiable evidence that your god exists.
B'Hai is the answer.
Mohammed was not God's only true prophet.
B'Hai is the only faith that joins together the Abrahamics.
No, wait-- Scientology is the answer. It is the only faith that explains how to fulfill your potential as an Operating Thetan.
Maybe Buddhism is the answer. It is the only philosophy that allows a person to become one with the universe.
The Church of the Subgenius is The Truth. They are the only religion that offers eternal salvation or triple your money back.
You insist on muddying and polluting the waters.
Islam is a moon god cult. Muhammad used his family's moon god, (Sin), and cooked up his religion using all kinds of other circulating, well known cultural themes, and elements. Islam is just as bad as Christianity.
Pick a God – Any God!
Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, Zaramama.....
Eenie, meenie, miney – Quetzlcoatl!
Accept Quetzlcoatl as your Lord and Saviour or suffer His serpentine wrath!
Doc Vestibule, why?
To all the Atheists, anti- theists, agnostics, etc. that enjoy mocking can you answer a few simple questions: Does your life have any purpose? Is morality subjective? Is there any standard for...well...anything? Is there any difference between some member of the Westboro Baptist Church who poisons their kid with "horrific" theology and "evil" practices and a non religious family who teaches their kids "tolerance", "love", and "acceptance"? Be very honest, I dare you. You won't though, because the only "truth" in the whole matter for many is that all these words (horrific, love, acceptance, tolerance, evil, etc.) are actually absurd. They mean nothing. Your opinions, emotions, sense of purpose, and your vocabulary is all garbage. If you truly swallow your wolrdview you'll realize at the root of it just how utterly hypocritical you are to comment on a world that is matter but doesn't matter. You're like a piece of lint that insults others pieces of lint. You're just as deluded as the Christian, Muslim, or Jew. LOL. What do we call things that exist with no intention, design, or ultimate purpose? You should say "everything". So next time you're offended by a violent or appalling crime remember what you truly believe to the core.
Not what Jesus would do...
Your mistake was the act of generalizing (grouping people).
Moral relativism is a truism.
Our culture has a very strong cannibalism taboo, but it cannot be "human nature" to feel repulsed by it as virtually every branch of the human species has praticed it at some point in their development.
The Aztecs believed in transubstantiation. They consumed their human sacrifices in the belief that the dead literally became a part of the God to whom they were given.
Binerwurs in India ate the sick amongst them to please Kali.
The Karankawa, an indigenous Texan tribe, ritualistically consumed their enemies to gain their strength.
The Wari, The Kuru, Fore, Caribs, Fijians, Popayans, Serengipeans, are all fairly modern examples (within the last 500 years).
We are selfish creatures by nature, yet our survival depends on cooperation. In order to balance these two conflicting instincts, mankind has had to develop rules that allow room for both.
These rules are not the same for all communities – hence we've had so many different types of religion and government throughout history.
Concepts such as 'morality', ‘state’, ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.
Blame, guilt, responsibility etc. are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.
Religion binds communities together by giving a common frame of reference. Shared fears (like divine retribution), hopes (like going to heaven) and rituals allow the instinct for self preservation to extend beyond one's self and immediate family.
Now, would you care to expound on what you think I "truly believe to the core"?
Yes my life has the purpose I give it. The implication in your post is that you NEED a god, and justify it by it's usefulness. That is called Utilitarianism. You don't get to keep, or make up something, because it seems useful.
YOU have no "absolute" moral standards. Your "murder" is acceptable in a military setting. Religion is not the source of morality. Yes, there are standards. YOUR evil god, CHANGED his standards, countless times in the Bible.
The purpose of my life is to do my best to leave the world a better place for those that remain. I want this even though I won't be rewarded for it. I don't need to a "sacred" text to tell me that suffering is not a good thing. I can witness it and I have experienced it. I don't need a deity to hang the threat of eternal torture over my head in order to steer me away from causing suffering. Those who need these promises and treats to keep them from causing suffering are truly scary individuals. They're sociopaths on an imaginary leash. If your "sacred" texts are all that keep you in line, then please, do continue to believe in them.
You really are clueless aren't you.
Of course our lives have meaning. In fact they hold more meaning than yours does because we acknowledge that it's finite, singular and precious.
The idea that life is meaningless if it doesn't somehow persist forever is the equivalent to a software glitch. A parent holds a child in their arms and is filled with intense joy and love. It's meaningful. But at some point the parent picks up their child for the last time, without even being aware that it is the last time. Does that somehow make all the past experiences meaningless?
Pointing out how ridiculous it is to base everything you believe about the nature of existence on an imaginary god created by ingorant men from 2000 years ago is merely rational. If you can't see how morality could arise as a consequence of social behavior then there's nothing for it. You've already swallowed the fiction of your faith which doesn't allow for alternate explanations. Simply there's no way I or anyone could demonstrate to you anything you're not willing to accept. However the reverse is not true. Show evidence of your god and we would believe. But what you consider evidence isn't. Gaps in our knowledge aren't proof of god, intricacies in nature aren't proof of god, your holy books certainly aren't proof of god. No.. the only acceptable proof of god would be god revealing himself and that has never occured(except as a story in your holy book which I already stipulated wasn't proof).
Ryan, what a very sad world you live in if you have to believe in invisible sky gods to have thoughts of your own.
"Does your life have any purpose?" Yes, I am looking forward to my vacation with my wife and kids next week. This life is not a trial to determine where I spend eternity. Now THAT would be a life without a purpose.
"Is morality subjective?" Yes, morality has evolved like everything else. Humans cannot survive on their own, only as a group. Look around you. Could we have built this society if we had to worry about someone else stabbing us in the back or raping/killing our family? This is where morality comes from, it is essential to the survival of our species. Not from a 2,000 year old book. If morality came from the bible, then we would still have slaves, stone disobedient children, etc. Anyone who claims unchanging morality from 2,000 year old books has a short memory.
"Is there any standard for...well...anything?" Yes, it is determined by the culture of a particular society, not from religion. In cases where the religion is tied to the culture, like in many Muslim countries, then yes the standards are determined by the religion because religion and culture are tied together in that case (another reason to keep religion separate from government).
"Is there any difference between some member of the Westboro Baptist Church who poisons their kid with "horrific" theology and "evil" practices and a non religious family who teaches their kids "tolerance", "love", and "acceptance"?" Yes there is a huge difference. To teach our kids that "god loves dead soldiers" is lot love. Of course if the idea of love came from the bible, it would be much different. "Love" means punishing your imperfect creations for being imperfect. Non believers recognize that this is the only life we get, and live accordingly.
"...the only "truth" in the whole matter for many is that all these words (horrific, love, acceptance, tolerance, evil, etc.) are actually absurd. " These words are man-made, but the feelings behind them are real. Just because we don't believe they are given to us by your invisible sky god, doesn't mean we don't feel love, compassion, sadness, etc.
"You're just as deluded as the Christian, Muslim, or Jew. LOL." We base our views on reality, not on delusions.
"What do we call things that exist with no intention, design, or ultimate purpose?" The purpose is to live life to the fullest. You don't need a designer for that. Why are we here? Because we're here (Rush reference). If your "purpose" is to live for god, why wouldn't you just get this life over with and send yourself to meet him?
wow ryan, you are so full of hate and very judgemental, both of those are strict no-nos, better pack light, it'll be warm where you are going for that tirade.
Sound like the beginning of a Henny Youngman joke. "My wife is so fat...." Coptic religious humor?
So in summary this fragment is of useless historical value.
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.[
Just a quick check on the verbage
Actually aetheis, is a belief that there is no god. Since nobody can prove or really know emperically, then it is a belief and therefore just as much a religion as the one's the reject.
avgcat85, you don't seem to know what the definition of religion is- try one of the hundreds of dictionaries at your fingertips. Having a belief about something isn't a religion.... I don't believe in fairies, that doesn't mean I'm religious.
Actually, atheism is no belief in a god rather than a belief in no god
actually, atheism is more of a philosophy than a religion.
sam stone, there are multiple types of atheism, including an active belief that there is no god, and a lack of a belief in a god.
Sam stone, It's not a philosophy in any way. It refers to a single belief about a deity- not a set of beliefs and not a study of the universe. It can be the product of or part of a philosophy, but not a philosophy itself.
every sunday church is filled with old people who who have trouble sending email and young weird kids..give it 2 generations and this religious nonsense will be gone from the US
@ matt: people have expressed that same general sentiment for hundreds of years, if not millennia – and yet these things persist. you might want to rethink it.
Thank you matt. Unfortunately, I think the reason the fundies are holding on so tight despite all of the conflicting evidence is that there is no "new" belief system necessary. Belief systems throughout history, (or religions if you prefer), die when they have lost social relevance. In the past, a new, more relevant belief system was always standing by to accept conversion. Now, there is no need for a new belief system. We understand how to get answers.
I look forward to the day when the Abrahamic religions are given the same level of interest as our daily horoscope. Kind of cute and fun, but accepted as the BS they are.
Will they be singin', 'we r da wurld', ol' prophet?
Jealously will get you nowhere with Jealous.
It really is changing. Both my kids are atheists and they tell me about 30% of kids in their high school are too. The reason atheism is on the rise is that kids are seeing that Science answers their questions better than belief in gods. There are lot of people who, when asked, will say they belong to a religion despite a lack of belief. As it becomes more acceptable in our society, they will come out. The world will be a better place when we don't have religion to fight over. Then we will fight over what really matters: resources and land.
really, russ? have we had the internet for hundreds of years?
An agnostic with his pet monkey, named gnostic, walks into a bar and says, 'Barkeep, the usual and be snappy.' The barkeep, named Harry Truman, replies, 'For the thousandth time, not until you tell me the name of your monkey!' Agnostic says, 'I don't know how many times I have to tell you. I don't know.' H T, 'Sheesh, ag, I don't think you want to know nuttin!' Ag, 'That's my storyline.'
The punchline is on another fragment.
So we is "Simon Say" in your theory?