Science Confirms Manuscript Saying Jesus Had a Wife Is Not a Forgery

History, Religion, Science

jssmrrd_19-9-2012

The Vatican had previously said that the document was a fake. But now we know that this is very far from the case.

Scholars too had concluded that the papyrus referring to Jesus’s wife was a clever forgery. But now, new scientific evidence has proven otherwise.

Back in September 2012 Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, first announced the discovery of a Coptic manuscript that she began calling “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

The scrap of papyrus was only the size of a cell phone, but it contained the words “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife…’” before the rest of the text cut off.

Later, in a subsequent line the fragment refers to a “Mary” and explains that she “is worthy.”

Is this Mary Magdalene? It seems likely, almost certain. But if so, is this the wife to whom Jesus was referring in the papyrus? And even then, does this mean Jesus was married or was it perhaps allegory?

King presented the manuscript as evidence of an early Christian debate over the role of women as disciples and leaders in the Church. King has concluded that the fragment is a fourth-century copy of a second-century undiscovered text. This, she explains, only means that The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife is evidence of a second-century debate, but not whether or not the Historical Jesus had a wife or not.

To others, however, it is evidence of the logical conclusion that Jesus, as a first century Jewish teacher, arguably in his 30s or 40s, would have been married.

The debate in the second century would have been caused by the emergence of beliefs to the contrary, rather than erupting out of the blue.

Almost immediately the scholarly community began to respond, first with the obvious—“this does not prove that Jesus had a wife”—and then with increasing skepticism about the authenticity of the fragment itself. Esteemed New Testament scholars like Francis Watson and Mark Goodacre, together with the renowned manuscript expert Alin Suciu, began to poke holes in the thesis.

The biggest problems were the grammatical errors in the text and the similarities between GJW and another early Christian Coptic text, the Gospel of Thomas.

Almost 18 months after King’s initial announcement about the text, The Harvard Theological Review has published a special edition containing a revised article and a dissenting view by Brown Egyptologist Leo Depuydt, as well as the results of scientific testing of the date of the manuscript and analyses of the handwriting and ink.

The texts conclude that the papyrus itself should be dated between 650 CE and 870 CE. The ink, scientists confirm, is consistent with materials used on ancient manuscripts. The handwriting analysis also failed to turn up anything suspicious.

What that means is that if this is indeed a forgery as so many scholars and the Catholic Church originally assumed, then there are people out there who are making forgeries in ways very different than we have imagined. In fact, it would mean that there are people creating forgeries in ways that could make it impossible to distinguish forgeries from historical artifacts. That would seem terrifying to the archeological community, if it were at all likely. Far more likely is that this surprising text is authentic and reflects a second century debate that was likely borne out of a clash between emerging Church doctrines and historical accounts of a married Jesus who didn’t find women dirty, nor marriage and sex to be sinful.

(Article by R. Abraham)

2 Comments

  1. Disproving a speculative hypothesis cannot always be demonatrated with certitude, but, nevertheless, I will relate my own views on the document described in this article. The mere facts that this document refers to events in Jesus’ life, and can be dated to around the 5th-9th century, does not lend any particular credibility to any claims stated therein. That era had sensational gossips and story tellers–just as our own has it’s tall-tales, and it’s tabloids.

    The authenticity of the Canonical New Testament Scriptures has, meanwhile, been attested to by an extensive body of evidence and historical witnesses. These include such 1st century manuscripts as the Dead Sea Scrolls text of the Gospel of Mark, and the Rylands papyrus, the earliest fragment of the Gospel of John to have been discovered thus far. Testimonies to the aurhenticity of these Scriptures come from the eyewitness accounts of the authors; and from later Christian authors, teachers, apologists, and Church Fathers within Christian congregations, which trace their origins to the original Apostolic Church founded by Jeaus Christ, and span a period from Apostolic times, to the Canonical Councils of Carthage, Hippo, and Rome, and to the Ecumenical Council of Nicea II.

    Various sectarian groups existed at the same time as the Early Christian Church, or, otherwise, broke away from Apostolic Christianity during the early centuries of Christian history. During the same period, it was a regular practice for Gnostic groups to spread sensational, fictitious claims, such as the one discussed in this article. Various Gnostic sects originated before the founding of Christianity, and claimed to purvey secret, ancient knowledge to their initiates. It was a common practice of Gnostics to selectively borrow various teachings and Scriprures from the early Christian Church (and, from other religions), for use as propagandistic material, and for various other motives. The Gnostics also forged numerous “Gospels” and “Epistles,” falsely ascribed to prominent New Testament sources; however, such forgeries were generally never accepted by Churches founded in the Apostolic Tradition.

    The document reported in this article is dated to somewhere between the 5th and 9th centuries, i.e. 360-750 years after the life and ministry of Jesus. That is, at the least, 127 years longer than the United States has existed as an independent country, and is not very far from the time frame in which Gnostic forgers were propagating dozens of sensational rumors, and forging sensational, spurious “gospels” and “epistles” about Jesus and other prominent New Testament figures. So we have some fragmentary text, of unknown origin, written hundreds of years after the events it recounts. Then, on the other hand, we have the eyewitness accounts of N.T. writers like Peter, James, Matthew, John, and Jude, who were real disciples of Jesus.

    The New Testament does not, otherwise, attempt to conceal the fact that Peter, a married man, was, nevertheless, appointed to a distinctly high office in Jesus’ Church (“Keys” to a “Kingdom,” such as were promised to Peter, were a sign of the office of “Keeper of the Palace” (=Prime Minister/Vizier) in Old Testament terminology, Isa 22:20-23)

    Bearing this information in mind, is it rational to speculate that Jesus Christ married, a wife, but that neither any of his biographers–or any writers in the Christian movement for hundreds of years afterwards–bothered to mention this about him in any of their writings?

    Is it rational to ascribe more credibility to some mysterious, anonymous, story written hundreds of years after the actual events, rather than to the eyewitness accounts and closely linked sources who wrote the NewTestament–in which we find no perauasive evidence that Jesus ever married?

    As indicated before, there is a distinction between chronological “promenance” (which turns out to be of little consequence, in this particular case), and accuracy. Age does not establish the credibility of any claims made in the sensational document discussed in this article. There were liars and hucksters in ancient times, just as there are now. I am convinced that any balanced and honest judgement would have to favor the Gospel writers over some sensational, anonymous claim originating 100s of years after the events it describes.

  2. A complete total waste of time. If this document is genuine, it is the only one. All others the Bible is based are copies of copies of copies …

Leave a Comment