Two years ago a small fragment of papyri was found that the media proclaimed contained ground shaking information about Jesus. I recall when it was first released that many “Christian” scholars began debating what the ramifications of such a find mean for the Christian faith. Over the past week this tiny fragment of papyri has come back into the limelight. It seems that over the last couple of years the fragment has over gone extensive testing to determine its authenticity. They wanted to test the paper itself to determine whether or not it was truly an old piece of papyri or if someone had tried to forge this whole thing. The end results are exactly what they thought. This piece of papyri is authentic. It is genuine. In this fragment Jesus says the words “My wife.” The fragment then breaks off. It then goes on to say Mary is worthy.
This has led some to begin speculating what all of this means. Did Jesus get married? If so who was it? For years people have speculated that Mary Magdalene’s relationship with Christ was more than what gospels reveal. Some have even gone as far as speculating that the Holy Grail was not a cup at all, but that the grail was Jesus’ son (Christian Essenes). Others have tried to make Jesus’ wife the church based upon what we see in Eph. 5 and Rev. 21. Due to the fact that we don’t have an entire scroll, but a tiny little fragment we don’t even know what Jesus had to say about this so called wife or if this “Mary” was the wife and they she was indeed worthy. All we know is that he mentioned one, on this fragment.
Personally, I lean towards another interpretation. The papyri is authentic. I don’t doubt that. But, what many people fail to listen to is the date associated with this alleged faith shaking piece of paper. It was initially dated in the 4th century. Nearly 300 years after Jesus actually died someone wrote that Jesus had a wife. Let that sink in for a moment. Even if we were to accept the initial date, which was proven to be wrong, more on this in a moment, it was still written 300 years after the fact. While this papyri is authentic, it doesn’t make it inspired. While this papyri is ancient it does not make it on par with the original inspired writings. Saying something from the 4th century is like something from the 1st century is equivalent to saying that American writers in the 21st century are like American writers in the 18th century. Anyone with a lick of common sense knows that simply is not true. (I would argue that the writers of the 18th century were better educated). My point here is that just because it is old it does not mean that it is truth.
The truth is that in the 3rd and 4th century there was a lot of pseudo graphical writings being produced. Why would someone pretend to be someone they weren’t when writing the story of Jesus Christ? Because they wanted people to accept their teaching as authoritative or gospel. Among these included what we call the Gnostic gospels. The Gnostic gospels tried to show the Son of God as not coming in the flesh. They tried to show that the Son of God (a spirit) inhabited the man Jesus of Nazareth. The union between this Jesus and God was so intertwined that only death could free the Son of God from this world. Thereby, Judas was no betrayer, rather he was a hero because he was the only one who got the fact that the Son of God needed to be freed (this according to the Gospel of Judas Iscariot). This particular gospel is ancient. This gospel is intact. This gospel is about Jesus. This gospel is not the truth. The media has tried to take this information and make it look like the Catholic church tried to hide this teaching. Yes, the Catholic church tried to destroy this teaching. And for God reason. It was false doctrine; heresy.
Now, let us go back to this “faith shaking” fragment of papyri. It was actually dated somewhere between the 7th and 9th centuries. The fact that this is even a story is ridiculous. Those grasping at straws had the audacity to state that while this may not be the original “signature” writing, but a scribe’s copy it doesn’t mean that the original was not written in the early 2nd century. Really? This is where science leads us? We can’t prove what we want this to say so we just make it up as we go along?
This text also shares some similarities with the Gospel of Thomas, although the Gospel of Thomas never mentions a wife of Jesus. The Gospel of Thomas was a collection of sayings of Jesus. There was no distinct narrative, like the accepted Gospels. More importantly, it was clearly Gnostic. What does this mean for our fragment? It may have been a copy of the Gospel of Thomas that was edited as early as the 7th century to include a “wife” for Jesus. Either way it would have been rejected by Christians because it taught that Jesus did not come in the flesh. Think about it, why should we allow a fragment that had more in common with a book that is clearly false teaching than with God’s word “shake our faith” as the media says? -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Jesus was Married?
Volume 5 Issue 19