Jesus married? Who the hell knows?
Jesus married? Who knows? Why do I ask? Because
a previously unknown scrap of ancient papyrus written in ancient Egyptian Coptic includes the words: "Jesus said to them, my wife…"
And that news has made headlines, despite that being virtually all that’s said on that tiny scrap of papyrus, seen at right being cuddled by Professor King. That hasn’t stopped her making hay from her slim blade of grass:
King said the fragment, unveiled at the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, provided the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married.
Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York, said he believed the fragment, which King has called ‘The Gospel of Jesus's wife’, was authentic.
I’m sure it is authentic. But one scrap is not a gospel. Or a Gospel. Not without a lot more context—as King herself admits in a more academic setting than the world’s headlines, saying in the Harvard Theological Review:
This is the only extant ancient text which explicitly portrays Jesus as referring to a wife. It does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, given the late date of the fragment and the probable date of original composition only in the second half of the second century.
It doesn’t really provide evidence either way, or add to very much, since extant contemporaneous texts about Jesus’ life tell us very little about it altogether.
But it is interesting.
[Hat tip Glenn Peoples]