Did Jesus have a wife?

I have been exploring the creation and fall of man and Lucifer in this series of posts. I plan to continue but some recent headlines in newsites around the world are beckoning a side post. A professor at Harvard University has announced the discovery of a business card-sized papyrus fragment dating from the 4th Century (300’s AD). The fragment (in Coptic) contains the phrase ”Jesus said to them, ‘my wife’”. Here is a smattering of headlines about this:

“An ancient scrap of papyrus makes explicit reference to Jesus having a wife, according to a renowned expert in Christian history.” BBC

“Papyrus fragment quoting ‘wife’ of Jesus raises questions for Christianity” – The Australian

“Was Jesus married? Papyrus fragment fuels debate” – Jerusalem Post

So what are we to make of this? Is this neo-narrative of Jesus really up for consideration? Well, let’s look first at the proximity of this ‘witness’ to Jesus life. The headlines and articles tell us it is ‘ancient’ and it is at that, but is it close to the time of Jesus? The articles themselves report the date of the fragment as 4th century, putting it about 300 years after the death of Jesus. Could such a document even be close to being a ‘primary source’? Well, just two hundred years ago, the war of 1812 raged between Canada and the US. I live  in Canada and if I claimed by my own authority to have a revision of events that transpired back then and have the ‘real story’ that has been kept hidden these two hundred years by our governments bent on keeping us in the dark – would you believe me? Of course not! How could I, two hundred years after the fact have any credibility as a source to set the record straight about what happened back then? It is so ludicrous an idea that it is beyond even contemplating. So how can a source, 300 years after the fact, be headlined in websites and Harvard professors as setting the real record – hidden all these years – straight? The websites continually refer to ‘church doctrine’ as standing in dogmatic opposition to this idea (that Jesus was married). For example the BBC article states

“Christian tradition holds that Jesus did not marry – but Prof King said in early years it was subject to debate. The provocative find could spark debate over celibacy and the role of women within Christianity, she added. But the announcement sparked scepticism from some theologians. “

The Jerusalem Post article opines that

Despite the Catholic Church’s insistence that Jesus was not married, the idea resurfaces on a regular basis, notably with the 2003 publication of Dan Brown’s best-seller “The Da Vinci Code,” which angered many Christians because it was based on the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children.

King (the Harvard Prof announcing the discovery) 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.

AsiaOne informs us that

Contacted by AFP, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi refused to call into question King’s competence as a historian but said that “we do not really know where this little scrap of parchment came from.”

“This does not change anything in the position of the Church which rests on an enormous tradition, which is very clear and unanimous” that Jesus Christ was not married, he said.

“This changes nothing in the portrayal of Christ and the gospels. This is not an event that has any influence on Catholic doctrine,” he said.

So is this a case of ‘narrow-minded’ churchmen blindly clinging to ‘tradition and doctrine’ in the face of contrary evidence? That is the impression one gets from these statements. But in point of fact ‘church doctrine’ has nothing to do with it. The gospels were written by three eyewitnesses and one investigative reporter (the Gospel of Luke) mere decades after the crucifixion of Jesus. And they are not found today on one business card fragment. I have a reference the size of an encyclopedia book that contains the transcripts of the many manuscripts of the New Testament that exist today that come before the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). That would put all these manuscripts earlier than mid-4th century. An encyclopedia-size of extant manuscripts written by primary source eyewitnesses vs. one business card size anonymous sentence 300 years after the fact! Why is it even making any news, let alone world headlines?

Gospel of Judas

But this is just the latest twist in a bizarre drama that is sweeping the world. It reminds me of the media attention paid a few years ago with the Gospel of Judas. The BBC opening sentence (bolded) was

Judas Iscariot’s reputation as one of the most notorious villains in history has been thrown into doubt with the translation of an ancient text.

But did the Gospel of Judas have any historical credibility? Further in their article the BBC informed us it also was a ‘4th century manuscript’ so we know that it was also 300 years removed from the events of Jesus. So it was not, for example, written by the ‘real’ Judas as his version of historical events. And there is only one extant Gospel of Judas manuscript, against the many manuscripts that claim primary eye-witness source testimony. Yet the BBC article would have us believe that it ‘throws into doubt’ what really happened. And it leaves you with the impression that it is more ‘progressive’ and ‘educated’ to have this doubt whereas it is ‘doctrine’ and ‘tradition’ that keeps the ‘credulous’ within the oppressive shackles of ‘church orthodoxy’.

Da Vinci Code

Then there was the Da Vinci Code book and movie, which were based off “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” – a self-proclaimed work of investigative journalism – that concluded that Jesus went off to France with Mary Magdalene and sired a ‘secret’ bloodline there. It is not necessary to examine all the claims of these books. Some are so easy to disprove that their lack of credibility should be as apparent as the sun rising before our eyes every morning. For example, the Da Vinci Code claimed that the Roman Emperor Constantine forced a vote of church Bishops to make Jesus ‘Divine’ as the Son of God. Really? So why does the Roman historian Pliny the Younger, writing to the pagan emperor of his day in 112 AD, – 200 years before Constantine – tell him this about the Christians?

“They also declare the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery and adultery …” Letters 10.6

The arch anti-Christian Lucian, writing satire against the gospel in 170 AD tells us that

The Christians you know worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account … it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers … worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.    The Death of Peregrine 11-13

Constantine in 325AD could not influence what happened two hundred years before his time, so the controversy of the divinity of Jesus definitely was not invented by him and thus one of the main ‘historical’ claims of this whole revisionary history is shown to be smoke and mirrors. Yet it was once again mentioned with a tone of plausibility in the Jerusalem Post article above as well as with this new 4th century Coptic reference to Jesus’ ‘wife’.

We live in an age when we claim that we are scientifically inclined – less prone to believe things unless compelling rational evidence is presented. I am not so sure. I meet many who tell me that the evidence to believe in Jesus is not compelling. Fair enough. But then I find many of these same folk embracing fantasies and beliefs that are far, far less substantiated than the Gospel. Why? Probably many factors are at play. Today many of us have not bothered to develop a baseline of historical understanding about the Bible so we are not in a position to have an informed perspective on the latest headlines that will greet us.

But at even a deeper level, perhaps ‘rational evidence’ is not our main metric in determining what we will believe.  Because behind our mind stands a more difficult beast to tame – our will.  Implicit in believing the Gospel Story is following it – and that is something we instinctively and desperately fight against. The Gospel Story demands our allegiance while these neo-narrative stories merely tickle our fancies – requiring no surrender to our deeply instinctive need for autonomy.  So deep down it is whether the story is preferable, rather than rational, that often drives our beliefs.   As the man famous for his wisdom, Solomon, wrote so long ago

“This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

18 thoughts on “Did Jesus have a wife?

  1. Nothing is hidden except is a secret
    Nothing is found except is a treasure
    All treasure’s are hidden (blasphemy and herrasy)

  2. if Jesus got married or not..He had child or not…that is secondary..But the book aurther become a rich &famous person….that is what he Expected…This kind of persons(who has born along with 7 th sense)use who an all poor mentally, their weakness nicely….HE is tried to teach all Don’t believe the Bible(written by who an all lived with Jesus and his period)just believe me and my novel(Wich an all made by human ,who an all not live with Jesus & His period)……in our language there is a excellent word that is”someone try to covered the whole pumpkin in a single plate of rice”…………..is it possible….i know who is the Jesus.There is nothing to learn about the Jesus from others…Because i will take the decision based on my mind only..Not from others(i am not mentally poor).

  3. all the wifes of ancient profets of God were known and written in the bible but false christians claim that Jesus had a wife. it is not written in the bible. apastles were very close to Jesus there was no any apastle write or talk the wife of the king it proves Jesus had no wife and children.

  4. Who was Cain afraid of? Everyone after him had to be his Brothers and Sisters. Also, He takes a wife(Had to be a sister). Or while he waited Adam & Eve had more children (Brothers & Sisters) who would have made him and Uncle to all.

  5. Ragnar, I happened upon your site, by chance. I read another blog you had up about Constantine. I really appreciate your thorough, intelligent answers. No emotional arguments here, just the facts! I love it! Thanks!

  6. The only way Jesus could have had a wife, is she would have had to be supernaturally conceived like Jesus was, or she would have had to come from one of his ribs like Eve came from Adams. The reason is. Jesus was made from perfect seed, and lived a sinless life,not from the imperfect seed of Adam, if he took a wife from the imperfect seed of Adam, and became one flesh with her, he would have been defiled, and his sacrifice on the cross would have been rejected by God.

  7. What great lengths our so-called science does go to avoid the volume of evidence that God has come in the flesh.

    Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3

    Thanks for the reading past the headlines and sharing your thoughts, Ragnar.

    • i don’t believe that if jesus Crist have a wife.. why didn’t written in the Bible?? the question is they have a Prof..

      • Dont Get Confused every one of you, JESUS (YAHSHUA) HE IS THE SAME GOD ALMIGHTY (YAHWEH), IF JESUS WOULD HAVE BEEN MARRIED (OR HE HAD WIFE), HE COULDNT HAVE WASHED OUR SINS
        BECAUSE HE WAS PERFECT, PURE AND HOLY GOD, AND THAT IS WHY THE HOLY BLOOD OF HIS HAS WASHED OUR SINS, HE NEVER CAME TO EARTH TO GET MARRIED, HE HAD ONLY ONE INTENSION, AND
        THAT WAS HE WANTED TO DIE FOR THIS WHOLE SINFUL WORLD (NOT ONLY CHRISTIANS), HE ROSE UP ON THE THIRD DAY (DEATH COULDNT CONQUER HIM), YOU KNOW WHY, BECAUSE HE HAD NOT SINNED,
        TO HAVE A GREAT GOD LIKE HIM WE SHOULD FEEL PROUD AND NOT DOUBT, YOU KNOW WHO IS HIS BRIDE (WE ALL CHILDREN WHO BELIEVES IN JESUS AND GET BAPTIZED IN HIS HOLY NAME(JESUS NAME)
        AND RECEIVE THE GIFT OF HOLY SPIRIT WE ARE HIS BRIDE AND HE IS OUR BRIDEGROOM, IF WE STAND IN JUDJEMENT DAY. JESUS WILL NOT ASK ABOUT MARRIAGES AND CHILDREN, HE WILL ASK YOU
        HOW MUCH GOOD WORKS HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME (WINNING SOULS ), PLEASE REFER THIS THANKS

        ALLWIN DOUGLAS RODRICKS

        • It has long been believe that Jesus was single, but according to the Bible, that is not true. Believe it or not Jesus Christ was MARRIED but not to Mary Magdalene…

          MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT… http://bit.ly/1MlMYan

          “… I am MARRIED unto you…” KJB http://biblehub.com/jeremiah/3-14.htm
          “… I had put her away, and given her a bill of DIVORCE…” KJB. http://biblehub.com/jeremiah/3-8.htm

          The OLD COVENANT has been “DONE AWAY” because the Old marriage agreement is now of none effect, JESUS CHRIST divorced his adulterous wife. Many have falsely ASSUMED that THE LAW of God was now DONE AWAY, not so, what was DONE AWAY was the Old Marriage Agreement – The OLD COVENANT.

          Q: WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE OLD COVENANT?
          “For if there had been nothing WRONG WITH THAT FIRST COVENANT, no place would have been sought for another.” [Hebrew 8:7] http://biblehub.com/hebrews/8-7.htm
          A: THE PEOPLE (they don’t have the Holy Spirit yet) THEY ARE YET BRAINLESS ….
          “But God FOUND FAULT WITH THE PEOPLE and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” [Hebrews 8:8] http://biblehub.com/hebrews/8-8.htm

          The New Covenant is SUPERIOR because of God’s better promises : “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I WILL PUT MY LAWS IN THEIR MINDS AND WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” [Hebrews 8:10-12] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+8:10-12

          The NEW COVENANT: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+19%3A6-9&version=ESV

      • There is NO evidence anywhere that Jesus was married! It is certainly not Biblical. The early church fathers did a LOT of writing, but nowhere mention such a thing. Even the Gnostic writings to not mention it! The so-called “Gospel of Philip” (which was written by Gnostics 150 to 250 years after Christ’s resurrection and supposedly teaches that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married) says this:
        There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.

        Note: The Greek word for “companion” in this passage is koinonos [from koinonia, “fellowship”]. It does NOT imply marriage! The book was originally written in Greek, not Aramaic.

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