Yesterday, two news stories broke. Both were important, but both immediately generate buzz that suggested a great many people misunderstood their importance.
Evidently a fragment of an ancient document exists in which Jesus is talking about His wife.
This is a great and exciting find for those of us who are interested in relatively early forms of Christianity. The scholar involved was careful to correctly say that this document had no (or little) historic bearing on whether the historic Jesus was married.
The document is ancient when compared to the LA Times, but not when compared to the life of Jesus Christ. It would have all the value as evidence of someone writing now, off the top of his head or from folk memory, about the life of Jonathan Edwards. (And so Edwards said to his wife: “I think Calvin was wrong . . . and that His God was Islamic.”) Hundreds of years from now this bit of historical fun or anti-Calvinist fiction would be of great interest for the same reason cracked pots from ancient times are of value: not for their cracks or that they are pots, but because they are so old and rare.
It is, of course, not shocking that one of the jillion cults of Christians we already know existed thought Jesus had a wife. The New Testament, after all, says Jesus has a wife . . . a bride. If we only had a fragment of that text, then we would not know it was a reference to . . . the Church. We have no idea of the context for this “quote” from Jesus, but we do know the historical gospels where the manuscript fragments go back to the early second century do not show a married Jesus.
But that has not stopped the breathless types from hyping Mrs. Jesus out of proportion.
In the same way, Mitt Romney said what I believe to be a careless and badly argued set of statements at a fundraiser months ago. This tape was released and now Mitt Romney’s campaign is over . . . again. His campaign was evidently over when he expressed concern about the security at the London games. His campaign was also in “disarray” when he suggested that the President was mishandling the Middle East.
He is the incumbent and he might lose.
The race is not over by any means, but some people have vested interest in proclaiming it is.
Oddly, there is some cross over between those intentionally misunderstanding the nifty textual findings about a Christian sect, as if we have not had weird fourth or fifth century stories about Jesus forever . . . fan-fic from unstable Christians having as much to do with the actual Jesus as most fan-fic does with truth.
So I thought I would make these folk happy in between readings of Dan Brown and Mother Jones by arguing that given his view of women Mrs. Jesus certainly would not vote for Mr. Romney. This should finish his campaign with the eighty percent or so of Americans who are Christians.
Sadly, life is less dramatic than these folk think. Mr. Romney has a floor of forty-six or seven percent and is still in the race with wads of cash and debates coming. Jesus was almost certainly (as certain as such things can be) not married.