The Gnostic Noise Machine and the “Wife” of Jesus UPDATED

I was going to let the whole “Jesus had a wife” thing pass by in silence, since the discovery of a minor fragmentary unprovenanced 4th century papyrus of a probable Gnostic text is about as relevant to actual Christianity as an episode of Scooby Doo.

If it turns out to be authentic (big if) it may very, very slightly and incompletely expand our knowledge of some of the fringe backwaters that burbled up and rapidly drained away in the early centuries of Christianity. Honestly, though, it doesn’t even really add much to our store of knowledge about Gnosticism (one of the earlier Christian heresies) that we didn’t already know.

I assumed it would just fade away as another academic sham perpetrated by the Gnostic noise machine, first set in motion by the disgraceful work of Elaine Pagels in her popular book The Gnostic Gospels (1979) and rolling on ever since. (Pagels most famously claimed that the spurious Gospel of Thomas predated the Gospel of John and that St. Paul was the source of the Gnostic traditions. Thanks for contributing that to our efforts to misunderstand early Christianity, Dr. Pagels. We have some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out.) The names affixed to the story–the New York Times, Laurie Goodstein, and Karen L. King–assured me that this was a minor bit of attention-seeking that would soon collapse under its own pretensions. Silly me.

First, a little bit on the players in the story. The Times has notoriously horrible religion coverage. Goodstein is the least competent major religion reporter I’ve ever read. She was last seen marveling about how the unrecorded and thus unbroadcast Stephen Colbert and Cardinal Dolan forum at Fordham for 3,000 students “might have been the most successful Roman Catholic youth evangelization event since Pope John Paul II last appeared at World Youth Day.”

Hey Laurie:

Pope Benedict concludes World Youth Day 2011

So much for Ms. Goodstein’s credibility. We have a word for attitudes like hers: provincialism.

Next up in our dramatis personae is Karen L. King, who, Ms. Goodstein breathlessly informs us, is “is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity,” because academic credentials taketh away the sins of the world, particularly “first woman” credentials. (That’s an actual quote from the Gnostic Gospel of Fred. Prove it isn’t.)

Perhaps more important is the fact that she was a member of the Jesus Seminar, an absurd body of self-styled revisionists who “voted” on the authenticity of scripture passages and, most notoriously, decided that the Gospel of John was a sham. Their members produced wonderful theories, like explaining that the empty tomb of Christ is easily explained by wild dogs eating his body, or that Jesus didn’t exist at all. They are to actual near-eastern religious studies what Lady Gaga is to quality music: minimal talent married to stunning self-promotion skills. There is so much superb work done in NT studies that you need to pick and choose, and an easy way to trim down your reading pile is to ignore any writer whose biography includes the words “Jesus Seminar.” You’ll save yourself endless headaches and radically limit your exposure to stupidity.

King’s specialty is women’s roles in the early Church, and her focus has been on Gnostic texts. The Christian Gnostics are indeed a fruitful area of study, since they represent certain currents of thought in Greek philosophy mixed with a radical warping of Christ’s message, misunderstanding or outright hatred of Judaism, misogyny, contempt for the body, and general all-around nuttiness. The Gnostics got the whole neoplatonic thing all wrong, and it wasn’t until St. Augustine that someone got it right. Nonetheless, Gnostic studies are fascinating and the texts–mostly collected in the Nag Hammadi Library–are often striking.

King has an agenda. Let’s be very clear about that. She makes some throat-clearing gestures in the Goodstein article towards downplaying the outrageous claims being made for “Jesus’s wife” fragment, but she’s positively panting to prove it to be true. To get an idea of what she thinks Gnostic texts prove, here’s a little taste from her book, The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle (note that even her title is a lie):

Yet these scant pages provide an intriguing glimpse into a kind of Christianity lost for almost fifteen hundred years. This astonishingly brief narrative presents a radical interpretation of Jesus’ teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge; it rejects his suffering and death as the path to eternal life; it exposes the erroneous view that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute for what it is-a piece of theological fiction; it presents the most straightforward and convincing argument in any early Christian writing for the legitimacy of women’s leadership; it offers a sharp critique of illegitimate power and a utopian vision of spiritual perfection; it challenges our rather romantic views about the harmony and unanimity of the first Christians; and it asks us to rethink the basis for church authority. All written in the name of a woman.

One trick both King and Pagels use (and the two collaborated on a book on–wait for it–The Gospel of Judas) is to try to date their preferred texts earlier and canonical texts later. This is the case with King’s work on the Gospel of Mary, which she dates to early Christianity, but which certainly dates to no earlier than the late 2nd century. (One of the oldest copies was found at our old friend the Oxyrhynchus dump, and is probably 3rd century.)

We can see some of this dating-game being played out in the New York Times article on the fragment being given the absurd name The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife. (Book, documentary, and speaking tour by Professor King to follow.) The earliest date King is willing to assign to the fragment is 4th century, which of course makes it a very late piece of text of minimal use to understanding anything about early Christianity. This date is not based on testing: too much of the document would need to be destroyed for carbon dating and, for some odd reason, it hasn’t been subject to spectrometry. However, 2 of the 3 experts asked to review it for The Harvard Theological Review doubt its authenticity. So, even the 4th century date might be bunk, but let’s just accept that date as solid.

Later in the article, however, King links the text to the Gospel of Thomas, possibly written in the late 2nd century, and presto-chango! The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife becomes a 2nd century text! How? Beats me. I don’t have an endowed chair at Harvard, so I can’t tell you how a minor textual parallel magically knocks a couple hundred years off the date of a document. It might just mean someone in the 4th century read Thomas.

But I do know that “4th century” text about Jesus’s wife = no headlines, while “early Christian” text about Jesus’s wife = book contracts, and possible collaboration with James Cameron.

So what, exactly, is this document? I’ll let Ms. Goodstein spell it out for you:

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

There is nothing even a tiny bit shocking in that sliver of text, for reasons that should be thumpingly obvious to anyone with a passing familiarity with the New Testament, the church, or Christian history. Why is that?

  1. Christ did have a wife. More like a bride. We still talk about her today. Actually, we still are her today: the church. See also John 3:29, Matthew 25:1-13, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34, Revelation 21:9, & c, & c. Spousal imagery is central to the early church’s understanding of herself. Early homilies on the Song of Songs drove this point home again and again. Bridal imagery is not just incidental to Christianity, it’s integral.
  2. Women disciples. Guess what? Yeah, you already figured it out. We know about them too. The Virgin Mary, the other Marys, Martha, Joanna, Susanna, and others…. What’s that? You mean a feminist revisionist scholar of an early Christian heresy is trying to blur the distinction between disciples and apostles? Say it isn’t so!

Let’s move on to some other claims:

But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” Dr. King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

The claim that there was “active discussion” within the early Church of Jesus being married is simply false. If this is “further evidence” of that discussion, what’s the unambiguous “primary” evidence we already have? The subject wasn’t even up for debate. The man who urged his followers to become “eunuchs for the kingdom” certainly wasn’t going to marry, and no one in the early Church claimed he did.

The article goes on to say that “historically reliable Christian literature [a mysterious phrase, that] is silent on the question.” Again, that’s false. As we’ve seen, it is not silent on the role of Christ as bridegroom. In fact, it talks about it quite a lot. Indeed, a huge swath of early Christian text about Christ-as-bridegroom is turned into gibberish by the idea that he has a flesh and blood wife.

Now, there was plenty of debate about whether Christians should marry, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject, and that’s not what she’s claiming.

We are also told that the fragment contains the line “Mary is worthy of it.” Worthy of what? We’re supposed to think she’s worthy of something modern feminists would want her to be worthy of: apostleship, priesthood, marriage, a thriving career followed by 1.5 children in her late 30s, a Lexus, etc.

Let’s go back to that pesky old Gospel of Thomas (you know: the one that’s more authentic than the Gospel of John) to see what this idea of Mary being “worthy” could possibly mean:

Simon Peter said to Him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.”

Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Hoo-kay: awkward. Nice of “Gnostic Pretend Jesus” to say Mary was worthy of life, but she’d be better if she would just grow herself some wedding tackle. Wait a minute, if Mary was his wife, and he wanted her to be a man, then … oh please, just make the stupid stop.

King “repeatedly cautions” that the fragment does not constitute historical proof, while subtly implying it does just that. Why is this even a little bit important? Goodstein makes it obvious for the NYT readers who were getting a little logy by this point in the article:

Even with many questions unsettled, the discovery could reignite the debate over whether Jesus was married, whether Mary Magdalene was his wife and whether he had a female disciple. These debates date to the early centuries of Christianity, scholars say. But they are relevant today, when global Christianity is roiling over the place of women in ministry and the boundaries of marriage.

The discussion is particularly animated in the Roman Catholic Church, where despite calls for change, the Vatican has reiterated the teaching that the priesthood cannot be opened to women and married men because of the model set by Jesus.

Is everything becoming clear now? A tiny, late fragment of a woefully incomplete text with some parallels to known text (Thomas) is hardly worth an article in Biblical Archaeology Review. But fashion it into a cudgel to beat the church with (a favorite practice of the New York Times) and you have blaring headlines. Look, I almost made early non-canonical texts (primarily OT pseudepigrapha) the focus of my studies, so I would never, ever deny the need to look at every scrap we can get from the years 200BC to 200AD. They fill in vital details about the world in which Christianity took root and flowered. However, they will never–they can never–change the revealed truths of the faith. They are merely footnotes.

But let’s not allow that to get in the way of the latest “really real Jesus” the revisionists keeping trying to sell. Forget all that continuous witness and testimony guff. This tiny scrap of justifiably forgotten junk is the real truth, not all those texts copied again and again for hundreds of years. If it has no relation to historical testimony or textual consistency, then it must be the truth. The exception is the rule.

This is what certain Gnostic scholars do: they manipulate tiny shreds of evidence and milk an ignorant mainstream media in order to whip up imaginary controversies. The latest talk about “Jesus’s wife” is just another discordant note in a loud and grating noise machine that’s been playing the same tune for over 30 years.

UPDATE: Marcel LeJeune and Jimmy Akin also take a whack at this pinata, with far less snark.

UPDATE 2: Here is King’s own FAQ and transcription of the fragment. As she did in the NY Times article, she (correctly) denies that this says anything about the historical Jesus, but goes on to make several spurious points about what it might say and its actual dating. The identification of it as “probably written in Greek in the second half of the second century” is unfounded. I’ll readily grant the 4th century date even in the absence of spectography, since the linguistic and papyrology evidence appears to be strong, and nothing argues against an apocryphal Coptic text.

But King isn’t satisfied to have a late document, and needs to make it Something Important:

This gospel fragment provides a reason to reconsider what we thought we knew by asking what role claims about Jesus’s marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family. The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife makes it possible to say with certainty that some early Christians believed that Jesus was married. This conclusion potentially has significant implications for the history of ancient Christian attitudes toward marriage, sexuality, and reproduction.

Nonsense (or, rather, gnonsense), for the reasons already outlined above.

Then there’s this bit of disingenuous balderdash:

The use of the term “gospel” here makes absolutely no claim to canonical status or to the historical accuracy of the content as such. This invented reference in no way means to imply that “Jesus’s wife” is the “author” of this work, is a major character in it, or is even a significant topic of discussion—none of that can be known from such a tiny fragment. Rather, the title refers to the fragment’s most distinctive claim (that Jesus was married), and serves therefore as a kind of short-hand reference to the fragment.

Line she left off: “And my publisher said I’d sell an extra 10,000 copies of my book with that title.”

The entire text:

Others continue to raise serious objections:

Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist, said there was no way to evaluate the significance of the fragment because it has no context. It’s a partial text and tiny, measuring 4 centimeters by 8 centimeters (1.5 inches by 3 inches), about the size of a small cellphone.

There are thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things,” said Funk, co-director of a project editing the Nag Hammadi Coptic library at Laval University in Quebec. “It can be anything.”

He, too, doubted the authenticity, saying the form of the fragment was “suspicious.”

Also:

“There’s something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.

Another participant at the congress, Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, was more blunt.

I would say it’s a forgery. The script doesn’t look authentic” when compared to other samples of Coptic papyrus script dated to the 4th century, he said.

Heck, I’m not even going that far. Papyrology is way outside of my area of expertise (theology). I’m saying even granting its authenticity it is, at most, a curio.

UPDATE 3: Brian Green directed me towards PaleoJudaica, which has been running some interesting and useful updates with links. There are a hundred angles for approaching this story, and the ability of the internet to allow people to share ideas and expertise means that the claims are subjected to more light than was ever the case in the past. Different disciplines can converge to render judgement from a dazzling variety of perspectives. My area, as stated, is Catholic theology, so obviously I’m working within an extremely well-defined discipline. But I just love seeing so many people bring their own wisdom to bear, particularly when it converges with my own, more casual interests (pseudepigrapha, archaeology, early Christian history). I’m actually glad this story happened, because it’s exposing me to bloggers who are adding to my understanding.

And let’s not forget that King’s track record as a translator is rotten. And the provenance is very dodgy. Was its acquisition a violation of the UNESCO guidelines on antiquities trafficking? Remember: Hany Sadak, director general of the Coptic Museum in Cairo, knew nothing about the fragment until the announcement.

JUST A NOTE: Since I’m a philo-Semite and raving Zionist, the likelihood of my approving anti-Semitic comments is zero, so save your time and mine.

FINAL UPDATE: It’s over. Comments are closed.

RELATED:

Some thoughts on the Gospel of Thomas.

Expert claims “Jesus’s Wife” fragment is probably a modern forgery.

More evidence that ”Jesus’s Wife” fragment is a modern forgery.

About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the Biography tab.

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  • http://www.marcusallensteele.com Marcus Allen Steele

    Well done! I’m feeling rather smug because I’m more informed now than I was when I got up. Anyway, agenda always colors an issue––and we all have one. However, the best narrators, whether journalists, historians, writers, academics, etc., are the ones that can maintain some sort of integrity––is that too much to ask!?––when they do what they do. They go where the facts go rather than dragging them to their “corner.”

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I actually shouldn’t mind these moments of mainstream media religious idiocy, since they give us an opportunity to speak the truth.

  • victor

    Excellent, comprehensive, and thoughtful analysis as usual! I know how much time out of your day it takes to suffer fools lightly like thise, so it is MUCH appreciated.

    Of course it wasn’t necessary as Senator Vreenak has already ruled on its authenticity.

  • victor

    My big DS9 joke and I botch the punchline. :-( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qKcJF4fOPs

  • Rob B.

    True, but will the NYT publish such scholarly rebuttals with the same fanfare? Probably not…

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Like TNG, DS9 is also noncanonical. It’s the Gnostic gospels of Trekdom.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    No, but AP will. Check out the updates. It’s being hammered.

  • http://www.accordeonaire.blogspot.com Gary Chapin

    Here, Sir, you go too far! The Gospel of DS9, recounting the war of the Dominion, the Prophets, and the Ferengi, is at least — AT LEAST, I say — as canonical as ST: TAS! And I’ll take you all on, one at a time or in a bunch, to prove it.

  • Marian

    This is brilliantly written! I am in college and currently enrolled in a course called Introduction to the New Testament. With this story all over the headlines, much of class today was spent discussing this bit of “news,” how the scrap is “almost definitely” authentic, its supposed implications for the Church today, etc. Did I mention that one of our textbooks for this course is the book you mentioned in this article, King’s “The Gospel of Mary of Magdala”? In addition, we have already briefly examined the so-called “Gospel of Judas.” You can imagine my exasperation. Thank you for this article!!!

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Thank you! Sorry to say, however, that if your teacher is using those texts in an INTRO to NT class, then your teacher is incompetent. They are way, way down on the list of things to study for those seeking knowledge about NT times. Send the professor along to this post and I will explain the exact nature of his or her idiocy in complete and granular detail. I’ve spent an entire semester on a single book and not mined it all, and they have you chasing footnotes? Who the hell is teaching it? Bart Ehrman?

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I’m willing to accept Captain Archer as canonical, but there I draw the line. The universe winked out of existence after Kirk retired.

  • Marian

    Funny you say that- Ehrman’s “The New Testament” is our main text. I do appreciate your response and will send this article along to my professor.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    You must be joking. This is an actual Introduction to the New Testament class–not a class in controversies in the NT or paleography but an overview of the entire book–and your text is by Bart Ehrman? Jesus wept.

    ADDED: Just to be clear, I don’t want to minimize Ehrman’s skill as a textual scholar. However, his work is so biased and out of the mainstream that it is no place to start for an intro class. He magnifies minor details and minimizes major points. His entire approach to scripture is inverted. He is a classic case of a smart person studying deeply and coming to all the wrong conclusions.

  • http://thewayoutthere1.blogspot.com/ Fr Levi

    Loved this; esp. loved every bit of the snark! I had a Bible study in the parish this evening & said (as part of a short pause from the far more important work of looking at an actual canonical Gospel) much the same things as you, dismissing the enormous (and scandalous) claims being attached to this poor little fragment, but alas without your snarky flair! Thanks for your efforts TLMcD (oh & thanks also for the parallel translation that I spent an hour trying to find earlier, but couldn’t).

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Ha! Glad to be of service! I keep trying to get the snark out of my writing, and it keeps sneaking back in. 30 odd years of “really true Jesus” scams, however, have made me ornery.

  • Jon

    Excellently written article– and I couldn’t wish for one gram less of snark! Thanks for cutting through the best efforts of the Fog Machine of our age with the cheering lamp of common sense.

  • Woody

    “Wedding tackle” It took me fifteen minutes to stop laughing. Good one.

  • Luke

    Minor point: Your caption for the World Youth Day picture is incorrect, that was World Youth Day 2008 (in Sydney). I would know, I can almost point out my office in that picture :P

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    Arg! Corrected.

  • http://www.examiner.com/worldview-and-science-in-national/mariano-grinbank Mariano

    For the New Testament there are circa 24,000 manuscripts (about 7,000 in Greek and the rest in other languages). For the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” there is ONE. But do not concern yourself with that as that ONE is thought to successfully discredit the 24,000.

    Also, why is it that for New Testaments the demand is that we must have the earliest possible ones. However, for anything that appears to contradict it (“Gospel of Judas,” etc.) one, two, three, four centuries from Jesus’ time is perfectly acceptable, the later the better.

    We are dealing with a substandard double standard.

  • http://www.gospel-thomas.net Mike Grondin

    You reference Rev 21:9 as somehow supporting the claim that the church was seen as the bride of Christ. But the text there seems to designate “the bride, the wife of the lamb” as the absurdly mythical “new Jerusalem”, not the church. Perhaps it’s best not to reference the spurious “Apocalypse of John” (AKA Revelation) at all.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    “Spurious” to whom?

  • http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com Brian Green

    Just posted on this too. You are a lot funnier about it though! The blog I quote from, PaleoJudaica, cites that the scholarly community is extremely skeptical and very much toward the “forgery” side. The anonymous owner with a financial incentive and no provenance, plus everything else, is just too much.
    http://moralmindfield.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/did-jesus-just-say-my-wife-wait-was-jesus-married/

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  • crazylikeknoxes

    What? Doesn’t lectio difficilior apply to theology (and papyrology), too?

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I’m not convinced it applies anywhere.

  • Aberu

    Yes, a 4th century scrap of papyrus is nowhere near as reliable as to what actually happened as a 1st century one. Bravo!

  • Hieronymus

    I think it is a fragment of the Coptic translation of Da Vinci Code done by Richard Dawkins as a time traveller…

  • crazylikeknoxes

    Domestic relations?

  • Al

    I assume the papyrus piece is genuine.
    I assume there were 85 dudes named Jesus at the time it was written.
    12 of them were toddlers, 8 were widowers and the rest were married.

  • Greg G

    So in the article you write “Perhaps more important is the fact that she was a member of the Jesus Seminar, an absurd body of self-styled revisionists who “voted” on the authenticity of scripture passages and, most notoriously, decided that the Gospel of John was a sham.”

    I got news for you … First Council of Nicea “voted and decided” on such things as the, the trinity of G-d, divinity of Christ, when to celebrate Easter, and which writings or teachings were seen as “heretical” and which were not. So I wouldn’t be so quick to cast that first stone, so to speak.

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    I’m far, far from defending the “Jesus Seminar” or anyone in it. But I wonder how Mr. McDonald’s assertion that the title *The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle* “is a lie”, squares with the epithet that Eastern Churches — both Dissident and Uniat — have for centuries given Mary Magdalen the title “Apostle to the Apostles”, because, being the first disciple (except perhaps for Jesus’s mother) to actually see Our Lord risen, she was sent by Him to tell the other disciples of His resurrrection and ascension “to My Father and your Father”.
    But I don’t deny that the book title’s insertion of the word “Woman” may insinuate a false idea that there were additional women Apostles besides the Twelve and Paul and Barnabas.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I’m aware of the title, apostolarum apostola, which is not just used in the east. Both JP2 and Benedict have used it. Her primary role is not in question, but that phrase has never been used to count her among the 12. Furthermore, just to anticipate another potential question, I’m aware that Paul uses apostolos in a very general way. This can’t be allowed to detract from the very specific position of the 12.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    If that was the setup for a joke, you forgot the punch line. Or are you really equating silly academic gatherings with ecumenical councils in which the successors to the apostle defined central doctrines?

  • Lance Eccles

    I haven’t come across your blog before, but I’ll bookmark it. I just loved this article, and I laughed all the way through.
    Incidentally, I wonder about line 6, “Let wicked people swell up.” It doesn’t really make sense.

  • Greg G

    I think you missed my point entirely. When people had to get together just to decide on “what the story is gonna be” in regards to Jesus and whether or not he was the son of G-d and how the Church would explain it to the masses they were hoping to control around Roman controlled Europe… I would say there is a lot of room for interpretation and re-interpretation as to the things they chose to leave out and the things they chose to firm up.

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I got your point just fine.

  • marya

    Maybe they’re like the kid in Willy Wonka who swells up and turns blue? (Sorry! Couldn’t help myself . . .).

    I also thoroughly enjoyed the article. Thanks for posting it.

  • http://areformedcatholicinthepcusa.blogspot.com Reformed Catholic

    A pastor/biblical scholar friend of mine sent me an update on this new
    fragment that they found. Based on what he saw this is what he sent out to a group of folks:

    “Now, for something far more important: Folks, I have recently
    translated the Coptic papyrus fragment concerning a possible wife for
    Jesus. It says “Take my wife, please.” The text indicates this statement
    was followed by uproarious laughter by the disciples.”

  • Isaac

    Quoted above from Gnostic Gospel:
    A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”
    Read carefully the above phrase, Jesus said to them, My wife…” The word, them, as mentioned here refers to many people and yet the phrase, My wife, is in singular tense and should refer to one wife. Thus, the phrase, Jesus said to them My wife, implies that Jesus spoke to many people and call them to be a wife instead of my wives. Certainly it was nothing else but a joke. As it was a joke, why shold we take it so seriously to treat Jesus to have a wife.

  • http://www.gospel-thomas.net Mike Grondin

    A better question might be: spurious in what respect? If the focus is on spurious authorship, then I’d agree that the Gospel of Thomas wasn’t written by Thomas. But then, some of the letters attributed to Paul weren’t written by him, either. So if that’s the complaint about GTh, then it equally well applies to parts of the canon. But if part of the complaint is also spurious content, then surely the crazed fantasies, imaginings, visions, and/or hallucinations of the lunatic of Patmos can’t be considered divinely authorized except by those who believe that the bishops of the church couldn’t have made a mistake in swallowing their qualms and canonizing it.

  • deiseach

    As Mark Shea has pointed out, that is evidence of the institutionalised fat-phobic tendencies of the Gnostics. This is blatant discrimination against those of us who are large-boned and sluggish-glanded, by its insinuation that we are large and in charge because we are evil and wicked, not because we are more bountifully blessed by nature with frames of amplitude and generosity.

    Stamp out this tyranny of the thin now!

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  • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

    ::facepalm::

  • Trevor

    This entire post is an excellent example of what is meant by the term ad hominem attack

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    This entire comment is what’s meant by “You don’t know what an ad hominem attack is.” I know 3000 words is a pretty long post, but did all the facts just slip right by you? Don’t mistake satire for ad hominem, which is a personal attack without content (literally “to the man,” rather than to the argument).

  • Chris

    I can hear one my seminary Profs voice saying “That Dog Doesn’t Hunt” about the scholarship of the ladies you mentioned. Not because they are ladies but because of their clouded judgment that dictates how they approach the text.

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  • Ted Seeber

    Have you ever read Hahn’s book _The Supper of the Lamb_? The New Jerusalem is what we now call The Communion of Saints- or in other words, the Church.

  • http://n/a m e wood

    I hope you do not think this inappropriate.If you may like to see other blogs.
    antiochabouna.blogspot.co.nz/
    Antiochian Orthodox. From Britain
    It may be “up your street” as we Brits say

    Enjoying your blog very much

  • Ian Carmichael

    Thanks for the article. And, just to provide a little more for you the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene” also refers to the hope of women becoming men (in fact, it may even be a repetition of Thomas. (It’s online somewhere.)

  • Doug Piero Carey

    I have read and studied everything I could make time for from the Jesus Seminar, especially books and essays from John Dominic Crossan. These works did more to drive me towards a deeper and happier faith in the Lord Jesus Christ than I can describe here. Turned nearly to atheism by lifelong exposure to strident teachings of church tradition as inerrant, Crossan and the Jesus Seminar turned me around and made me want to be a Christian again. Pagels’ works sent me closer to Jesus as well. My prayer is that all could find these scholars opening their hearts as they did mine. They must be read thoughtfully.

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