Does Ancient Document Prove Jesus Was Married?
Did Jesus have a wife? An ancient document that is 1600 years old and just recently translated says that Jesus refers to having a wife, according to a report from CBS News.
This bit of information is challenging what Christians have long believed about Jesus, that he was a single and celebate man. It could also influence the standing of women in the Roman Catholic Church, which has long dictated that only men could be priests, and following in Jesus’ example, remain celebate and unmarried.
The document was in the hands of a private collector and translated by Harvard University’s Dr. Karen King, who after examining it with other colleagues, says that the document is an authentic one.
“If the second century date of composition is correct, the fragment does provide direct evidence that claims about Jesus’ marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship,” King wrote in the paper with colleague AnneMarie Luijendijk, a professor of religion at Princeton University.
“If it is what it purports to be, then it’s the first of its kind to show up,” said Bart Ehrman, a religious-studies expert and author at the University of North Carolina.
“We certainly didn’t have anything like that before.”
Ehrman notes that the reference in the text to Jesus’ wife doesn’t mean he actually had a wife.
“This shows there was a follower in the second century who may have thought Jesus was married,” said Ehrman.
The paper is papyrus and the language a dialect of Coptic, with only eight lines appearing on the business-card size document.
Other scholars are not convinced that the document is authentic and further testing of its paper and ink is being scheduled.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, a noted Coptic linguist said these types of texts contain “crazy things.”
Wolf-Peter Funk, co-director of the francophone project editing the Nag Hammadi Coptic library at Laval University in Quebec, said there were “thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things,” and that many questions remain unanswered about the Harvard fragment.