The news is reporting that a Coptic papyri scrap has been found which has the words “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’” and supposedly will “ignite the debate as to whether Jesus had a wife.” I am sorry, but I can’t help laughing as I read such things. The small business card size scrap is late second century at best, written in Coptic and believed to be a translation of a Greek document. This of course is the time of the Gnostic movement, which produced a number of spurious works with the weirdest perspective of Jesus.
Interestingly the words after “My wife” are deleted and so it may not have anything to do with his wife, e.g. “my wife is the one who obeys my word.” Or, “my wife, the church, my beloved bride.” It is hardly anything like “evidence” Jesus had a wife.
The truth is that there is still no evidence of Jesus being married. The NT says nothing of his marrying anyone although he had a lot of female friends and traveling companions. Such things are pure romantic fiction for those who do not believe the accounts, or want to raise doubts about Jesus and the Christian faith.
The papyri also mentions Mary, the first reference likely alluding to his Mother who “gave to me life.” It says, “Mary is worthy of it.” “It” could be anything. Mary is elusive, with at least three mentioned in the Gospels.
One line says, “she will be able to be my disciple.” This could refer to a female being Jesus’ disciple. Nothing new there, we already know that there were female disciples. For example, when Mary sits at Jesus’ feet in Luke 10, she is taking up the position of a disciple. Secondly, Matthew 12:49 suggests that there were female disciples. There are also female disciples in Acts, like Priscilla and others.
So, like so many of these fresh discoveries, it is a very interesting historical discovery which adds to our knowledge of the early Christian movement, but despite claims to the contrary, we know nothing more of the Jesus who lived 170 years before this incomplete Coptic papyri came to light.
Here is the papyri and translation. For more, see http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/us/historian-says-piece-of-papyrus-refers-to-jesus-wife.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www.
she will be able to
be my disciple
be my disciple
Let wicked people
As for me, I dwell with her in order to