Thursday, September 20, 2012

Take my wife ... please" -- Jesus???

The big news in biblical studies this week is the discovery of a fourth-century piece of papyrus written in Coptic that quotes Jesus referring to “my wife.” The existence of the document was announced by Karen K. King, a Harvard Divinity School professor.  The story made the New York Times, network news, and every blog ever written by New Testament scholars (and non-scholars).

The consensus of the scholars is that this document is not real proof that Jesus was married. It is too late (4th century) and seems to be an isolated case. In fact, Professor King’s academic journal article  about the papyrus does not primarily deal with whether Jesus was likely married or not. Her primary argument is that the document suggests that women were considered among Jesus’ disciples early on in church history.(Of course, but it is good to have academic support on this.)

I must admit that to me there is a more interesting question than whether Jesus was or wasn’t married. The exact phrase on the snippet of papyrus is   "Jesus said to them, 'My wife …'"

Does this mean that Jesus might have been the first preacher in Christian history to use his or her spouse in a sermon illustration?

(Find Mike Luckovich's cartoon here.)

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