From the ash-heap of history
September 18, 2012 3:21 PM   Subscribe

"A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: 'Jesus said to them, "My wife ... '"

Although the papyrus fragment lacks context, it appears to be authentic. No sensational claims are put forward, either in the text or by the paper, that this "proves" that Jesus was married.

Noteworthy also: the historian, Prof. Karen L. King, is the first woman to hold the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard, the oldest endowed chair in the United States.
posted by Countess Elena (93 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Missing were the words "Take" before it and "...please" afterwards.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:24 PM on September 18, 2012 [104 favorites]


God help me, I can't help but hear that in the voice of Borat.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:29 PM on September 18, 2012 [24 favorites]


from article: “Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, ‘she will be able to be my disciple.’

Reached for comment, every wife ever was heard to mutter something about certain provocations being grounds for divorce.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...would have to really like bread and fish, ya know? But I kid me."
posted by AugieAugustus at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


From the quote given, it sounds as if it could be a hypothetical kind of statement - "My wife...[if I had one, would be able]... to be one of my disciples".
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but did they find the meaning of that Aramaic script spelling, "Rosebud?"
posted by Chuffy at 3:32 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Christ, what a.. vagina?
posted by phaedon at 3:32 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the quote given, it sounds as if it could be a hypothetical kind of statement - "My wife...[if I had one, would be able]... to be one of my disciples".

Put Sam Kinison down as one theological commentator who thinks Jesus couldn't possibly have a wife.
posted by jonp72 at 3:34 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if his wife's name was Incontinentia Buttocks...
posted by Chuffy at 3:34 PM on September 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Proof that Jesus opposed same sex marriage.
posted by monospace at 3:34 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't get the constant 'if Jesus had a wife, wouldn't it be Mary Magdalene' stuff. Is that just because of the weirdo Gospel of Philip?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:37 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Tough crowd, tough crowd," He continued, adding that He "gets no respect."
posted by zippy at 3:38 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Provenance matters.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


(5 years of translating the remainder, later)

"... has just joined FaceScroll. And she was seriously unhappy to discover that my other friends on there are twelve dudes and a prostitute. Busted. I am so deleting my account and moving to MetaPapyrus."
posted by Wordshore at 3:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [31 favorites]


Gore Vidal wrote a fairly long essay once arguing that Jesus must have had a wife, because that was the norm and because for him to be celibate in Jewish culture of that time would have been considered extremely weird, and it would certainly have been specifically mentioned in the gospels if it were the case.

The connection to Magdalene is usually made because she is one of only a few women mentioned in the gospels, and it would make sense if she were his wife both from the standpoint of actually being mentioned and because it's easy to visualize a bit of a hatchet job by the misogynist editors, who were more influenced by Paul than Jesus by the time of the Council of Nicea.
posted by localroger at 3:44 PM on September 18, 2012 [54 favorites]


It would even more news-worthy if it said 'Jesus said to them, "My wife, Alfred ... '"
posted by theora55 at 3:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


I found a similar papyrus fragment that says "just doesn't understand me."
posted by zaelic at 3:48 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


localroger, that was a flippin' great comment. Makes so much sense. I'm interested to read more, do you have a link?
posted by lazaruslong at 3:53 PM on September 18, 2012


I'm guessing "Teach the controversy!" won't apply in this case.
posted by Rykey at 3:54 PM on September 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


The papyrus fragment I discovered says, "nagging me about how it would be a miracle if I picked up after myself once in a while."
posted by perhapses at 3:55 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


...because for him to be celibate in Jewish culture of that time would have been considered extremely weird...

Whereas walking on water? Pfff, my kids can do that.
posted by DU at 3:56 PM on September 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


shakespeherian: there is a lot of anti-Mary Magdalene stuff in main stream circles because that would mean Jesus married a prostitute. If I remember right, that idea isn't really supported by the bible as much as it by later readings/interpretations.

I would love for this to be real. As localroger says, there are those historians (like me when I was a student) who subscribe to the idea that an unmarried person of the Jewish faith would have almost no authority in the community. The reading of the 'water into wine' story with the mindset that the bridegroom always bring the wine makes that story much more understandable.

Because if he's not the one responsible for the wine, why is everyone on his back to make it appear? Sure, Son of Man and all, but he's not your monkey, stop bugging him.

I'll be excited to read more as this unfolds!
posted by right_then at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I find the past paragraph fascinating in its poking of what some people would think of, hearing this, with recent popular culture:
The notion that Jesus had a wife was the central conceit of the best seller and movie “The Da Vinci Code.” But Dr. King said she wants nothing to do with the code or its author: “At least, don’t say this proves Dan Brown was right.”
Because somewhere, some chucklehead will go all "AW YEAH DAN BROWN KNEW STUFF" and then you throw a copy of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" at him and then a scrum breaks out.
posted by mephron at 3:58 PM on September 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm guessing "Teach the controversy!" won't apply in this case.

What controversy? Assuming it's authentic, it's a fourth-century text. Do you have any idea how many non-canonical texts there are running around? I mean, geez. Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Truth, Gospel to the Egyptians, Apocalypse of Paul, Apocalypse of Peter, the list goes on.

So he maybe found another one. I mean, cool and all, but unlikely to be all that transformative
posted by valkyryn at 3:59 PM on September 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


Weren't there wacky heresies of every stripe by the fourth century with various versions of the Jesus story? Probably texts that reference His dull weekend at the in-laws in a pot in some cave somewhere.
posted by Abiezer at 4:01 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or what he said.
posted by Abiezer at 4:01 PM on September 18, 2012


The description of the papyrus' provenance reads like it's straight out of an early Gothic novel. It basically amounts to "nobody can vouch for this thing."
posted by thomas j wise at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2012


Do you have any idea how many non-canonical texts there are running around?

More to the point, it isn't part of The Official Bible, as haphazardly (but holily!) compiled back then. That makes it Not The Revealed Word of God. I.e., it might be true but it isn't Truth.
posted by DU at 4:05 PM on September 18, 2012


My historian partner reckons it's the work of an early troll, possibly Rabbi ben Forchan, much along the lines of the recent anti-Islamic YouTube work. Casting the entire Bible as the records of a long-running flamewar, by no means over yet, certainly makes a certain amount of sense.
posted by Devonian at 4:06 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Or it could be 4th century Jesus fanfiction.
posted by Wemmick at 4:08 PM on September 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


The Bible Refers to Jesus' Wife, Too
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:09 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


If the Church is His bride, it follows that the fulfilled Church is/will be His wife. Yes?
posted by windykites at 4:11 PM on September 18, 2012


Wait, wait.. Mags is no prostitute! That was part of the hatchet job!

Also, man, the comments under that article are telling in a traffic accident fascination sort of way.
posted by drewbage1847 at 4:14 PM on September 18, 2012


I don't get the constant 'if Jesus had a wife, wouldn't it be Mary Magdalene' stuff.

Jesus: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Mary Magdalene: Why not?
Jesus: What I'm saying is — and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form — is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Mary Magdalene: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Jesus: No you don't.
Mary Magdalene: Yes I do.
Jesus: No you don't.
Mary Magdalene: Yes I do.
Jesus: You only think you do.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:16 PM on September 18, 2012 [28 favorites]


Do you have any idea how many non-canonical texts there are running around?

I don't get the impression that this is being billed as a discovery of a part of religious canon that was heretofore unknown. At most, it is a piece of a huge body of information - including non-canon materials - that help scholars and others to understand the history of Christianity. But I'm not sure anyone should have any illusions that a 4th Century text - or any other known text, for that matter - provides any particularly compelling information about the existence of a historical Jesus.

and yes, now I'm humming "historical Jesus" to the tune of that tedious Depeche Mode song
posted by The World Famous at 4:17 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


50 Shades of Yahweh?
posted by King Bee at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Copts are troublemakers ...
posted by carter at 4:27 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing "Teach the controversy!" won't apply in this case.

What controversy?


Just making a joke about a popular Creationist meme, specifically the idea that the notion that Jesus had a wife will be dismissed out of hand because, well, NO HE DIDN'T.
posted by Rykey at 4:34 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or it could be 4th century Jesus fanfiction.

Worse. The wife is a self-insert Mary Sue.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


You can't exactly "authenticate" something like that. Unfortunately, we've got nothing to use to check any of the gospel accounts against for factual accuracy, with the exception of extremely obvious anachronisms (of which there are a few). Instead, all you can do is make arguments from consistency, which themselves don't speak to the question of whether any of the consistent parts actually took place.

Having one gospel account in which Jesus is married isn't exactly a smoking gun. I mean, look at Secret Mark for crying out loud.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, drop-kick me Jesus through the goal post of life...
posted by Melismata at 4:38 PM on September 18, 2012


and yes, now I'm humming "historical Jesus" to the tune of that tedious Depeche Mode song

Now I'm humming it to the tune of that King Missile song.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:41 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Bible Refers to Jesus' Wife, Too

MARRIAGE IS BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN!!!1!
posted by Jimbob at 4:45 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Historical Jesus built my hot rod.

I don't care what they may say. I don't care what they may do. Historical Jesus is just alright.

posted by The World Famous at 4:45 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


overeducated_alligator: "with the exception of extremely obvious anachronisms (of which there are a few)."

I'm curious, is there a comprehensive list somewhere?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:46 PM on September 18, 2012


If the Church is His bride, it follows that the fulfilled Church is/will be His wife. Yes?

All I knows is I just came up for a new slang meaning for "narthex".
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Isn't that image zoom interface on the NYTimes article lovely? It's very subtle but there's a lot going on. SVG masking to make the loupe view, on demand loading of high res image tiles, it's lovely. (I think a friend of mine built it, is how it got my attention.)
posted by Nelson at 4:47 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jesus: "My wife ... asked me to take her somewhere she's never been. I said how 'bout the kitchen?"

/press here
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


So he maybe found another one. I mean, cool and all, but unlikely to be all that transformative.

I agree this isn't going to change much, but maybe a few people will get educated in the process. Evangelicals aren't really well-informed about Biblical history. Maybe when they discover it was put together essentially by a committee, they'll think twice about calling it infallible.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:50 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Given the context of the "my wife", it seems likely that he talking of somebody, and not the church. He could still be meant metaphorically, but you can't judge that from what there is left. The paper also says that "wife" is really the only meaning of the word used.
All I knows is I just came up for a new slang meaning for "narthex".
Eh, the narthex is first base, at best. It's more like a sex ed lesson. When you meet a nice church, once you're really committed to each other, you can go all the way to its...aumbry.
posted by Jehan at 5:03 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Evangelicals aren't really well-informed about Biblical history.

Having been raised in Evangelicalism (now agnostic/atheist), it's been my experience that they're not exactly killing themselves to get too informed.
posted by Rykey at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dan Brown is tapping away as we speak.
posted by Eyebeams at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Put Sam Kinison down as one theological commentator who thinks Jesus couldn't possibly have a wife.

Greg Giraldo, too.
posted by anothermug at 5:07 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, compared to some of the stuff Jesus gets up to in early non-canonical Christian writings, having a wife seems pretty tame. For example:
1 1 When the boy Jesus was five years old, he was playing at the ford of a rushing stream. And he gathered the disturbed water into pools and made them pure and excellent, commanding them by the character of his word alone and not by means of a deed.
2 Then, taking soft clay from the mud, he formed twelve sparrows. It was the Sabbath when he did these things, and many children were with him.
3 And a certain Jew, seeing the boy Jesus with the other children doing these things, went to his father Joseph and falsely accused the boy Jesus, saying that, on the Sabbath he made clay, which is not lawful, and fashioned twelve sparrows.
4 And Joseph came and rebuked him, saying, “Why are you doing these things on the Sabbath?” But Jesus, clapping his hands, commanded the birds with a shout in front of everyone and said, “Go, take flight, and remember me, living ones.” And the sparrows, taking flight, went away squawking.
5 When the Pharisee saw this he was amazed and reported it to all his friends.

2 1 And the son of Annas the scribe had come with Joseph. And taking a willow twig, he destroyed the pools and drained out the water which Jesus had gathered together. And he dried up their gatherings.
2 And Jesus, seeing what had happened, said to him, “Your fruit (shall be) without root and your shoot shall be dried up like a branch scorched by a strong wind.”
3 And instantly that child withered.

3 1 While he was going from there with his father Joseph, a child running tore into his shoulder. And Jesus said to him, “You shall no longer go our way.” And instantly he died. At once the people, seeing that he was dead, cried out and said, “Where was this boy born that his word becomes a deed?”
- Infancy Gospel of Thomas
Gore Vidal wrote a fairly long essay once arguing that Jesus must have had a wife, because that was the norm and because for him to be celibate in Jewish culture of that time would have been considered extremely weird, and it would certainly have been specifically mentioned in the gospels if it were the case.

Didn't some groups of Essenes stay celibate? I'm no expert to say the least, but it doesn't seem too outlandish to think that Jesus (if he was, as seems likely to me, pretty much just another charismatic apocalypticist wandering around ancient Judaea with a small band of followers) might have practiced celibacy among other ascetic practices.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 5:09 PM on September 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


there is a lot of anti-Mary Magdalene stuff in main stream circles because that would mean Jesus married a prostitute. If I remember right, that idea isn't really supported by the bible as much as it by later readings/interpretations.

Yeah there's nothing in the Bible that suggests that Magdalene is a prostitute. It first came from Pope Gregory who suggested that the seven demons she's noted as having been cured of are the seven vices, of which one is fornicationy sexy stuff. It's an entirely noncanonical notion.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:14 PM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Then jesus was like "very niice i liike" and tried to poop in the sink and everyone was like woaaah is this guy even from America?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:16 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned 99% of the bible is fanfiction too. My canon is the parables and all the weird poetry in John. Old Testament is decent though, for a prequel.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:18 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This opens the door to half-god/human marriages.
posted by hot_monster at 5:19 PM on September 18, 2012


Gotta say, this thread is a lot more measured than my twitter feed was about this discovery. I thought it odd that a bunch of people who are deeply skeptical about the historicity of Jesus Of Nazareth became suddenly convinced that this tiny scrap of papyrus could not but prove something about him. That is not, of course, how scholarly interpretation of text fragments works, even when they have been properly authenticated, and I appreciate this conversation a lot more than that one.
posted by gauche at 5:20 PM on September 18, 2012


Since we started with Stand-Up Routine Jesus, I think its only appropriate to share magic show Jesus.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:27 PM on September 18, 2012


Atom Eyes: "God help me, I can't help but hear that in the voice of Borat."

Now that you mention it, the Gospels do take on a completely different aspect if you imagine them as an extended Sacha Baron Cohen routine that went off in an extremely experimental direction.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:30 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fragment also works in Gilbert Gottfried’s voice.
posted by zippy at 5:33 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


and yes, now I'm humming "historical Jesus" to the tune of that tedious Depeche Mode song

It works better if you use "Detachable Penis".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:39 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Eh, the narthex is first base, at best. It's more like a sex ed lesson. When you meet a nice church, once you're really committed to each other, you can go all the way to its...aumbry.

If you really want to go all the way, you get up the church's apse.
posted by LionIndex at 5:40 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Goddammit, Pogo, I totally beat you to that.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:45 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joakim Ziegler: "overeducated_alligator: "with the exception of extremely obvious anachronisms (of which there are a few)."

I'm curious, is there a comprehensive list somewhere?
"

The biggest examples to me, I learned from reading & listening to Robert M. Price.* First off, the word "rabbi" didn't come into use until almost 100 years after Jesus would have lived. There were no synagogues until later, either. This guy has a good list, it seems.

I read even that there is apparently not enough archaeological evidence to substantiate the idea of a community so much as living in Galilee during that period (it was intermittently settled and uninhabited across the centuries), let alone it being a place where followers of Phariseeism would have been hanging out.

*Though to be fair, Price is on the fringe and actually doesn't even believe in a single historical person whom we can call Jesus. He tends to consider Jesus a spiritual/symbolic figure who was later retrojected into a historical narrative, mostly to justify claims of apostolic succession back to a founder figure.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:53 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, "Galilee" in the above should be "Nazareth." Galilee is the region, Nazareth is the town.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:56 PM on September 18, 2012


If you really want to go all the way, you get up the church's apse.

That's one way to go about it. There's always the path less travelled, through the rector's office and thus to the sacristy....
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:25 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


oh god this Sunday is going to be another episode of me not being able to control giggles at inappropriate moments in the liturgy.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:27 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Bible Refers to Jesus' Wife, Too
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:09 AM on September 19


That's nothing! The Koran refers to flying horses!
posted by Decani at 6:46 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jesus said, "My wife... she's so big..."

"How big was she, O Jesus?" cried the Apostles.

"When she sits around the temple, she sits. Around. The Temple." Badda-boom-tish!

"Thanks, you're a great bunch of disciples. I'm here all week. Try the fish."
posted by SPrintF at 6:49 PM on September 18, 2012


Incidentally, this discovery helped me realize how completely absorbed I am in my New Testament doctoral research topic. My wife emailed me this story when it broke, subject line,
"Did you see this?!"
I read the first two lines of the article and fired back,
"Impossible. He was gay!"
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:57 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Following up on DaDaDaDave's post--another Infancy Gospel of Thomas story (with video):

8 1 And again, after many days, Jesus was playing with other children on a certain roof of an upstairs room. And one of the children fell and died. The other children, seeing this, went to their homes. And they left Jesus alone.
2 The parents of the dead child came and accused Jesus saying, “You knocked down our child.” But Jesus said, “I did not knock him down.”
3 And while they were raging and shouting, Jesus came down from the roof and stood beside the body and cried out in a loud voice saying, “Zeno, Zeno—for this was his name—rise and say if I knocked you down.” And he rose and said, “No, Lord.” When they saw, they were amazed and the parents of the child praised God for these wonders.
posted by apartment dweller at 7:59 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where is Johnny Cash when you need him....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:37 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite non-canonical writing is the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, which David Eddings' "Book of Torak" always reminds me of. The best part is where Jesus reveals that he wasn't actually crucified, he magically swapped places with poor Simon of Cyrene, and stood on the edge of the crowd laughing while Simon got dead:
"For my death, which they think happened, (happened) to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. For their Ennoias did not see me, for they were deaf and blind. But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.

And I subjected all their powers. For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And therefore, when I was at their gates, I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was not afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled."
It's a little unclear from Seth's text whether Jesus has the power of shapeshifting, invisibility, kicking other people's souls out of their bodies so he can steal the bodies, or all three. You should read the whole thing. It's not long, and it is cray-cray.

As for insisting on Jesus's wife being Mary Magdalene, people are weirdly insistent that Gospel characters a) have names; b) don't share names; and c) are the smallest cast possible. So people are constantly trying to say that "second brunette woman in the crowd scene" is CLEARLY Mary of Bethany and Mary of Bethany must obviously just be an alias for Mary Magdalene because they have the same first name .... Similarly people flatly refuse to entertain the idea that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John of Patmos are all different dudes with the SAME NAME.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:02 PM on September 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Similarly people flatly refuse to entertain the idea that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John of Patmos are all different dudes with the SAME NAME.

Clearly these people don't have children in school. I just got back from my daughter's kindergarten curriculum night and they have a Meghan R, Meghan L, and Meghan Lacey.
posted by KathrynT at 9:16 PM on September 18, 2012


What dos "authentic" even mean in this context?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:30 PM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why did Jesus die before Mary Magdalen?

He wanted to.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:59 PM on September 18, 2012


The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text About Jesus
posted by homunculus at 11:16 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it matters, Karen King wrote a very interesting book on Mary of Magdala and the Book of St. Mary where she debunks the Mary Magdalene as whore theory.
As a ginger gene bearer myself the one good thing about the prostitute angle was she was usually depicted in later portraits as a red head since that was generally considered a sign of sexual profligacy. Red haired saints are rare...
posted by Isadorady at 1:10 AM on September 19, 2012


Here's how we know Jesus had a wife: he had a Jewish mother to make sure he did...

Seriously, I had this discussion with someone a few years ago who got all offended at the idea. "My Savior did not come here to get married and have sex!" she said. Well, isn't that imposing your own notion of how Jesus should have acted upon him, when Christians are supposed to model their lives on him? Who are we to say he shouldn't experience family life like that?
posted by Soliloquy at 1:12 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the most interesting parts of the article are that the fragment says "she will be able to be my disciple" and that when King wanted others to examine this irreplaceable, delicate, important fragment she just popped it into her purse for the trip. You know, nestled in with the half-used kleenex, a few loose coins, a tube of lipstick, and her keys, like it was no big deal.
posted by Houstonian at 1:19 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


2 And Jesus, seeing what had happened, said to him, “Your fruit (shall be) without root and your shoot shall be dried up like a branch scorched by a strong wind.”
3 And instantly that child withered was wished into the cornfield.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:31 AM on September 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


You can't exactly "authenticate" something like that.

Well we can usually determine how old a particular document is. That's all I meant. Verifying the content is one thing, but we should be able to come to at least some consensus about whether it's authentically from the fourth century.

We needn't even suspect academic dishonesty here. It's somewhat unlikely that this scholar/discoverer forged the thing, but did someone else? It wouldn't be the first time, nor is it likely to be the last.
posted by valkyryn at 6:34 AM on September 19, 2012


> If I remember right, that idea isn't really supported by the bible as much as it by later readings/interpretations.

Mary Magdalene was convicted of being a prostitute by Gregorius I (Gregory the Great) on no evidence whatever, and not until 591.
posted by jfuller at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My impression is that much of the "Mary Magdalene was a prostitute" angle springs from confusing her with the prostitute -- who, if memory serves me correctly, is not named -- who washes and anoints Jesus' feet. They're rolled into a single character in "Jesus Christ Superstar," anyway.
posted by Gelatin at 9:52 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


King Herod didn't mention Jesus having a wife, so that settles it for me.
posted by homunculus at 10:38 AM on September 19, 2012


It first came from Pope Gregory who suggested that the seven demons she's noted as having been cured of are the seven vices, of which one is fornicationy sexy stuff.

[snip]

My impression is that much of the "Mary Magdalene was a prostitute" angle springs from confusing her with the prostitute -- who, if memory serves me correctly, is not named -- who washes and anoints Jesus' feet.

Bingo. I think Pope Gregory also was behind the "Mary Magdalene = the prostitute who washed His feet" confusion. The tradition also holds that she was also the same woman who was going to be stoned to death before Jesus called them on it and said "let he who is without sin", etc.

I've asked my friend-who-was-a-seminarian for comment about this, because if I know anyone with the chops to comment on matters of theology and Christian Scriptural Canon, its the guy tutored by Jesuits.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on September 19, 2012


I, for one, feel that this scrap of papyrus written 300-odd years after the event is a trustworthy historical source.
posted by Groundh0g at 6:13 PM on September 19, 2012


Fake. That's totally the wrong font!
posted by deborah at 11:19 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
posted by homunculus at 6:13 PM on September 20, 2012


Never Mind Jesus—Did God Have a Wife?
posted by homunculus at 12:27 AM on September 24, 2012


...I will spare you the FULL answer my friend gave me, and attempt to sum up a bit....

He actually had a good point as to the "who was Mary Magdelene" bit, and how Mary Magdelene got conflated with the prostitute who washed His feet et. al. "Miriam" was a pretty common name, so all the "Mary"'s referenced at different points in the Bible may have all been different women. But in the very early days of the church, when you were dealing with a non-literate or sub-literate church membership and you had to tell a lot of the church stories by illustration, it sometimes was just easier to have all the Mary's be the same woman so as not to confuse things.

As to whether she was His wife - my friend is skeptical. Mary Magdalene certainly was big - she is mentioned as being the very first person Jesus appeared to after He rose from the grave, and the fact that Jesus chose a woman to speak to first in a patriarchal society is pretty novel. But there are just as many instances of Jesus referring to the CHURCH as His wife, so...this doesn't really change anything.

So this may indeed just be kind of "meh." I will spare you the details about "how certain scripture became Canon" and the like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 PM on September 28, 2012


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