Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Gospel of Jesus's Wife

 It seems that every year or so there is a newly discovered fragment that will undermine core tenets of Christianity. Yesterday, there was an announcement that a parchment was found in which it is revealed Jesus had a wife. I would like to discuss this in a couple of ways.

If you will read the PDF published by Dr. Karen King, the transcription (followed by the translation and interpretation) can be found starting on page 13. What we have here is 16 total lines of broken Coptic text. Five of these lines only contain 5 intelligible words. This is not a complete document by a long shot. It is the 4th and 5th lines of the text that concerns us where we read "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...she will be able to be my discipe.." To her credit, Dr. King does state that this does not prove that Jesus was indeed married. She does state the importance of this fragment on page 22 of the PDF: 
The importance of the Gospel of Jesus’s 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.
First of all, theologically and doctrinally, what does this mean? "The importance" is that this is an old document (from the 4th Century) and Jesus says something about "my wife". The ABC News article also states the following:
The discovery, if it is validated, could have major implications for the Christian faith. The belief that Jesus was not married is one reason priests in the Catholic Church must remain celibate and are not allowed to marry. It could also have implications for women’s roles in the church, as it would mean Jesus had a female disciple.
I will not get into the Catholic doctrine of celibacy for priests here, but with regards to female disciples, ABC News should, frankly, go read their Bibles. For example Acts 6:1-2 demonstrates that "the twelve" disciples gathered the full number of the disciples together. One has to be careful to differentiate between the 12 called disciples of Jesus and the fact that all of His followers are referred to as disciples. If ABC News means the former, then they are flat out wrong because The Twelve were specifically named in Scriptures. If they mean the former, that's not anything that has "implications for women's roles" since every believer is a disciple. But, I believe you can put the pieces together with regards to the intent of some regarding this fragment.

Which brings me to the second way that we, as believers, should think about this fragment - practically and apologetically. Consider this; there are literally thousands of parchments that are older than this fragment. Many of them are also complete documents (i.e. complete manuscripts of the various books of the Bible). The vast manuscript evidence we have make no mention that Jesus would have been married or that he had a "13th Disciple" who was a female. Yet, we have those today who would rather take the word of an incomplete parchment over that of more ancient and reliable texts. This is nothing new, but it should give us hope knowing that people today still want to know truth. And we should be willing to tell them the truth that God has revealed to us in the Bible. While this fragment is indeed speaking of Jesus Christ, that does not mean that it is some special knowledge or revelation that has been withheld from us for all these years. Rather, it is a gnostic gospel likely written by someone who wanted to undermine Christianity in some way or to inject their own skewed beliefs into it with the hopes that it would take root.

Take heart, believer!

Also, check out Aaron Earl's post on the matter with other links. We were discussing this last night, and I held off reading his post today until I completed this post. I like one of his points that Jesus does have a bride - the Church!

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