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
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.
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.