Boedromion 13 and Other Stuff

Today preparations for the Eleusinian Mysteries begin. A troop of epheboi, essentially an honor guard of teenage boys, perhaps having been purified at the Nekusia, in their “customary dress,” marches from Athens to Eleusis.

Yesterday, after my enthusiastic note about Professor Karen King’s new parchment fragment, which has already been dubbed “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” my friend and colleague Bob Mattheisen at Brown sent me links

(available here:

to the excellent scholarship on the subject done immediately  by Professor Francis Wilson, who makes a pretty convincing case that it is a forgery derived entirely from the Gospel of Thomas.Even if you don’t know Coptic–which, like Latin, is not a living language–he makes it very understandable.  Oh, well. Professor Wilson is quite blunt about knowing that the traditionally orthodox would want to claim it to be a forgery whether it is or not. He also makes clear that if Jesus did have a wife, he personally would be quite okay with that. I also know members of several Christian denominatione who would be also, thought they don’t tend to be blatant about that. Wilson also points out that, if one wants to make a case for Jesus having been married, the Gospel of Philip is quite adequate grounds for that task—and there is no doubt about its being genuinely ancient.

I do plan to post a long article making the case that Mary probably was Jesus’ wife,  most important student, and authorized successor as leader of the reform movement he had started. I’m working on that, and it will have to be long. My previous “Aphrodiphobta” series and the blog entitled “Mary Has Chosen the Better Vocation. Do Not Deprive Her of It” provide some groundwork for this project.

Along those lines, I would like to recommend Jeffrey Buetz’s The Secret Legacy of Jesus. I picked it up in a bookstore, flipped through it, put it back, walked away, then went back, looked again, and bought it. You might fear from the title that it is just more pious twaddle. No, it is a level-headed and thoroughly researched study of the original Jewish Christians who were driven almost into extinction by the Imperial Pauline church. He does not get into the argument about whether Jesus and Mary were married, but he admits that now looks possible.

Why should any of this be of interest to Pagans? Because a religion founded by a devoted married couple who believed in the holiness of our sexuality would be a much better neighbor than some of the still unfortunately psychopathic versions of Christianity. It might easily give us insights into our own duotheistic theology, just as the worship of Shiva and Shakti can.


War Against Women: Empower the Victims
Trekking Toward Nineveh, Mile One
Prologue to a Story of Jesus and Mary
How I Pray
  • Dave Burwasser

    Only from your blog would I accept the conclusion that the Jesus’ Wife document is a probably a forgery.
    I’d point out even that is a sentence fragment. Had the full text been something like, “Jesus said, ‘My wife is my church,’” it would be an entirely different message.

    • aidanakelly

      One important point Watson brings out is that the Coptic word can mean just “woman,” not necessarily “wife,” like the German Frau. Perhaps more importantly, R, McL. Wilson pointed out in 1969 that the Greek word underlying the Coptic that everyone (almost) has been translating as “companion” actually meant “consort,” that is, implied that they were lovers, not friends. Maybe, like most Jewish Socialists, Jesus just did not believe in formal marriage, in a society in which marriage made a woman legally subservient. That would fit well with his “The son and the daughter shall inherit equally” commandment. If they had the kind of ecstatic/mystical love I imagine, perhaps they would not have wanted to downgrade that into the kind of marriage most people had. Such idealism would have been incomprehensible in that society, so I can guess why it could have led immediately into the misogynistic propaganda that libelled Mary as being a prostitute. It would be fun to play with that concept in my next novel.

  • Robert Mathiesen

    Watson’s analysis has now been challenged by another scholar from Finland. See the link to an English-language PDF at:

    So the case for forgery — which doesn’t depend primarily on Watson’s analysis — may be somewhat shakier than I had thought at first. At best Watson may have shown *how* a putative forger might have proceeded.

    (For non-academics, I should mention that this sort of tentativeness is par for the course whenever a controversy erupts. Most of our methods, at least in this field, hardly ever yield absolute certainty, and it takes us years of kicking-the-question-around to reach even a fairly firm consensus.)

    • aidanakelly

      I should apologize to Professor Watson for immediately forgetting his name. Beware, dear readers. I am very fallible, not in the least qualified to be a Pope, except among Discordians. I’ll; look at that link. Thanks, Bob