Did Jesus Have a Wife?
Did you hear the big news?? The New York Times carried an article that a papyrus has been found which reveals something many people have thought for a long time… JESUS HAD A WIFE!! Let’s say it again together. Jesus—had—a—wife! And, what’s so hard to believe about that??
Well, for starters, there’s no proof. What we have here is the sensationalism of the Da Vinci Code rehashed. Even though this book was pulverized, decimated, and torn to shreds by scholars and historians, some people still believe its odd claims about Jesus being married. More than that, news outlets love to capitalize on these claims to boost their popularity and ratings. They always sell it as if there was some irrefutable new proof found. Most people don’t usually read more than the small snippet on the first page to find out the whole story, or lack there of.
So, what is the truth? Did Jesus have a wife?
The truth is that there is no credible proof anywhere for Jesus being married, not in the Biblical Gospels and not in any other Gospel. The newspapers the other day reported that they found a tiny piece of papyrus which had Jesus saying the words, “My wife…” That’s all. The fragment was cut off, and part of the next sentence says something about “Mary.” For some people, this is all the proof they need. Nonetheless, no one can rightfully assume they know what the rest of the sentence reveals or what Jesus is even talking about. For example, the Church is considered the “Bride of Christ,” and so the meanings could be numerous.
“Oh, come on!! It’s obvious he had a wife!” someone might retort. “The Papyrus clearly shows that – how much more proof do you need?”
What should be troubling for people who desperately want to believe this, more troubling than only having a fragment of the papyrus, is the problem of its dating. This tiny scrap of papyrus dates to the 4th century A.D., which almost certainly labels it Gnostic in origin.
Gnostic? What’s Gnostic?
Understanding exactly what a Gnostic is will reveal why this is dubious. Gnostics were an esoteric group who believed in a secret, hidden knowledge (gnosis) that only they were enlightened to. This religion was dualistic, believing that an evil god created this material world while the real God created the unseen world to come. Thus, everything that we see is evil, and everything spiritual is good. Gnostics believed that the higher knowledge, which only they possessed, would free their spirits (good) from their bodies (evil) from the shackles of this evil, material world. That’s it in a nutshell.
What exactly does this have to do with anything?
Since Gnostics believed everything material was completely evil, history would be included in that. Heck, they didn’t even believe Jesus had a body, but that he was more like a ghost. Thus and consequently, they did not even attempt to write Gospel accounts of Jesus that were historically accurate. Exclamation point. No, they wrote regarding a higher knowledge. Ironically, they believed that no one could understand their writings (except them) since only they possessed this higher knowledge or gnosis! So, for people to try to place the Gnostic Gospels, written hundreds of years after the death of Jesus on par with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John who were His Apostles is outlandish – and just plain silly.
In the New York Times, even historian Karen King, the leading expert on Mary Magdalene, said straightforwardly that this fragment does not prove that Jesus had a wife at all. Hmmm. Interesting.
So, here’s the bottom line…..
Because the Gnostic Gospels aren’t reliable, and this tiny fragment isn’t reliable either, for it was written hundreds of years after Jesus’ death by someone who wasn’t even His follower. This is in stark contrast to the Biblical authors, all of whom were alive at the time Jesus, all of whom followed Him and learned from Him for three straight years. Two out of four of the Gospel writers walked, talked, listened and learned from Jesus all-day, everyday, for three straight years. They were personally instructed by Him. Reason concludes therefore, that the Gospel writers of the Bible would have known the real Jesus and are infinitely more reliable.
Hey all, think about it this way. Who knows you best? Your parents? Spouse? Best friend? If someone were to write a book on your life, who would be best to undertake this task and accurately depict you? Your family and friends who know you well? Or, people who will never know you – people who won’t even begin to write about your life until you have been dead and in the grave for centuries?