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More about "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife"
April 19, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
In 2012, I blogged about the discovery of the so-called "Gospel of Jesus's Wife," an ancient fourth-century Coptic fragment in which Jesus refers to "my wife." The highly fragmented text, which has been analyzed by Harvard University scholar Karen King, also apparently identifies Jesus's wife as "Mary" and has Jesus telling someone "she can be my disciple."
Last week it was reported that an analysis of this fragment proves that it was written on parchment that does indeed date back to between the sixth and ninth centuries and is probably not a forgery. For more, look at http://gospelofjesusswife.hds.harvard.edu/
As King says, none of this means that Jesus was actually married, but it probably means that there were certain early Christian groups that thought he was married. There were a number of Christian or Christian-affiliated sects, some with different beliefs, during this time period. Some of the scholars think this particular fragment may have come from a sect with a Gnostic belief system. Modern scholars often associate the Mary referred to in those Gnostic gospels with Saint Mary Magdalene, whom so many Christians will think about this weekend as they celebrate Easter and the risen Christ.
Christians believe that Mary Magdalene was present at both Christ's crucifixion and at the resurrection of Christ. St. Augustine called her the "Apostle to the Apostles" because she delivered the good news that Christ had risen to the 12 Apostles. Some Gnostic sects apparently believed that Mary Magdalene was a bit more than that, whether it be early Christian preacher or wife and companion of Jesus, or both. The Catholic Church and other mainstream Christian churches have deemed those texts heretical. It's the same sort of thing that was much discussed a few years ago when "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown was big.
The new fragment is interesting mainly for what it might tell us about some of the early Christian sects believed and perhaps also what they taught about sixth century relations between men and women in those groups. From what I've read, the group where this text originated may have believed that men and women should live together as if married, but remain celibate, and share Christ's teachings with the wider community. Other groups might have believed Jesus was more conventionally married.
Whatever your personal religious beliefs, this is an interesting historical tidbit.
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