The Wife of Jesus

Did Jesus have a wife? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. We’ve all heard the story by now. Jesus supposedly had a wife according to a 4th century document. Keep in mind we really don’t have much and it has been pointed out that the fragment is rectangular that we have indicating some editing has been done. Either way, the main story about it can be found here:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49075679/ns/technology_and_science-the_new_york_times/t/historian-says-piece-papyrus-refers-jesus-wife/

So what are we to make of this?

My take? Absolutely nothing.

Why is that? Because this document is incredibly late. It would be just as false to take seriously a 4th century document that had Jesus walking around proclaiming explicitly the doctrine of the Trinity. It’d have made things easier for us today if He’d done that (Although I think much more difficult overall for people back then), but He did not. There is no doubt that other groups and even some Christians in the second and third centuries and onward would want to put words in Jesus’s mouth so He could advocate their views.

What do we do? We critically examine any text. We look at the dating of the manuscript, any claim of authorship, any information on the dating, authorship, and accuracy of the manuscript be it external or internal, and then make an informed decision. We have several works that describe how this is done for books of the New Testament and describing how it is done for books that are not in the canon, such as many Gnostic works like the Gospel of Thomas.

What is amazing about this is that the gospels which can all easily be dated to within 100 years of the events that they talk about are immediately rejected as biased and unreliable. Meanwhile, we have one fragment that says something centuries later and all of a sudden this is seen as something highly reliable. The double standard is incredible.

However, let’s also suppose that worse comes to worse and that as it turns out Jesus had a wife while He was on Earth. I don’t think that He did, but let us suppose for the sake of argument that He did. What do we lose by that?

Nothing.

Why would we? It’s no sin to be married. It’s no sin to have sex within marriage. If Jesus had been a married guy, well we’d realize the gospels did not consider this important to mention, but that’s okay. That again would not mean that they are inaccurate in everything they say. It would just mean that they are incomplete, and that’s okay because any biography of anyone will have to be incomplete. If you wrote an exhaustive biography of anyone it would be massively huge.

What we have here is simply a non-story. This kind of claim has been made before and it will be made again. The best thing to do is to have the church improve their skills at thinking so that not everyone has to panic at the thought that a new finding has come up. We have gone through this before and we will go through it again. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing worth talking about. I simply write this for those who might be concerned and want an opinion on the matter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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2 Responses to “The Wife of Jesus”

  1. Amanda Says:

    I agree with you, Nick. I had a conversation about this subject with my husband yesterday and I commented that if Jesus did have a wife that it would change nothing about who He is or the plan of salvation. I too believe that the bible is divinely inspired and provides everything we need to live our lives for Christ and be reconciled to Him in death. What I do question to some extent is what I think are commonly known as the “missing books of the bible”. I think these might have been determined not to be divinely inspired and thus omitted from what we know as the bible today (I’ve only heard this, haven’t had the chance to really study the topic yet). Do you know anything about these texts? Sorry to get off topic…

  2. apologianick Says:

    Hi Amanda. Thanks for asking. A simple way to see why some of these books weren’t included is to read them yourself. There were a number of criteria. A book had to be by an apostle or an associate of an apostle, it had to be recognized by the church at large, and it had to be consistent with prior accepted works. What I challenge people to do is to name three other books at least and why they should have been included.

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