The Curious Case of the Gospel of Mrs. Jesus

The Curious Case of the Gospel of Mrs. Jesus April 24, 2015

You’ve probably heard of the papyrus document christened by some “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” That’s a big title to put on a scrap the size of a credit card, but note that most of the handful of papyrus manuscripts dated to the earliest days of the church aren’t much bigger.

The phrase of interest in the manuscript is, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.…’”

Was Jesus saying, “Take my wife, please”? We don’t know the context because the scrap has just 33 words on both sides.

The document is written in Coptic and is thought to have come from the fourth century CE, but it appears to be a translation of a Greek document from the second century.

The fragment was big news in 2012, and scholars have since had more time to study it. One 2014 study concluded, “The test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is more likely a snippet from an ancient manuscript than a fake.” Nevertheless, there are many scholars who reject its authenticity.

Is it a fake? Does it even matter if it’s not?

One of the arguments in favor of its authenticity is that very few people would be able to create such a hoax. The hoaxer would have to be a scholar himself, but this isn’t beyond consideration. The provocative 1973 discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark is thought by many to be a hoax created by the very man who first reported the find.

Many Christians have been eager to discount this discovery. Not only might it be a forgery, there are other issues.

  • “Wife” could simply be a metaphor for the church. This would fit with Gnostic thinking of the time.
  • Scholars know nothing about where the manuscript came from, which denies them an important source of evidence to consider.
  • This is thought to be a fourth-century copy of a second-century document. Even if this is authentic, there’s a lot of distance between this document and the historical events. Changes can be added by copyists, and no one knows how the story might have evolved over the decades from Jesus to the original document.

Christian view of marriage

The second century was a time when marriage was debated within the church. The apostle Paul discouraged children. He made clear that marriage was second best and that chastity was preferable (1 Cor. 7). Marriage wasn’t even a Christian sacrament until the twelfth century. The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife could be an important data point in our understanding of the changing views of marriage in the early church.

The Christian commentary that I’ve read rejects the idea of a married Jesus. That shouldn’t be surprising, I suppose. There’s a lot at stake here. The Roman Catholic Church has reiterated its ban on both women and married men as priests, using the life of Jesus as a model. A married Jesus (which, after all, would have been the state of a typical Jewish man during that time) might also add weight to the Adoptionist view of the early Jesus, where Jesus was simply an ordinary man who was adopted by God because of his sinless devotion.

But Jesus being married shouldn’t cause too many problems since his dad was married as well. Like Father, like Son? The solitary Yahweh is a late development, and before the Babylonian exile (586 BCE), Yahweh was often paired with Asherah (or Astarte, Ashtoreth, or Ishtar). This pairing is explicitly seen in extra-biblical evidence, but we do see clues within the Bible. King Josiah reformed Judaism to allow only Yahweh worship, but these reforms document that Asherah worship happened within the Temple (2 Kings 23:4–7).

An appeal for consistency 

Here’s what I find odd about Christian pushback against this new evidence. They skillfully point out the weaknesses in the argument, and good for them. Our goal should be to set agendas aside and discover if this document is genuine and, if so, what to make of it. But why can’t they be just as skeptical about the tenuous claim that the gospel of Mark was written by a companion to Peter, who was an eyewitness (I explore that here)? Or be that skeptical about the “Why would they die for a lie?” claim that the apostles’ martyrdom points strongly to the historicity of the gospel story (I explore that here)?

We all have our biases. Maybe the many Christians who play both sides of this question—earnest about evidence they like and skeptical about what they don’t—honestly don’t see the hypocrisy. But then my job is to gently tell the Christian when he has toilet paper trailing behind his shoe.

Life is not a warmup. 
Live, learn, love, life. 
— Randy Rumley

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/22/12.)

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  • busterggi

    Its as real as any other gospel, canonical or not, all have been severely edited & redited and none of the originals survive.

    • Greg G.

      I wouldn’t say that the Gospel of Mark is severly edited. It is written in a chiastic format ( see Chiastic Structure of Mark by Michael Turton) so any severe editing would disrupt it. The Gospel of Matthew follows Mark very closely while the omissions and alterations appear to be theologically driven.

      The Gospel of Luke from verse 8:4 to verse 9:18 follows Mark very closely verse 4:1 to verse 6:46, except for the John the Baptist arrest that was discussed earlier. Luke 9:18 jumps from Mark 6:46 to Mark 8:27 in mid-sentence. The Gospel of John chapter 6 follows Mark 6:30 to the end of the chapter, adds the Bread of Life discourse, then jumps to Mark 8:11-12 so that the crowd at Gennasaret ask a question the Pharisees ask in Mark. It appears that early Christians objected to something in Mark 7 so that rather than rewriting it, they would edit it by ripping out a page or two. Maybe it was where Jesus compared the Gentile woman to a dog.

      Luke may not have known there was a page missing and just followed from one page to the next. John may have known of the gap and filled it with a riff from the Last Supper discourse which he had to drop when he had Jesus crucified a day before the Synoptics.

      New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price combines the work of several scholars who independently traced Mark’s sources so that there is no reason to think any of it is historical. Mark’s Use of the Gospel of Thomas (Part 1) by Stevan Davies covers a few gaps.

      So the text of Mark that we have received does not appear to be reworked because the structure is mostly intact, there seems to be a consistent use of his sources, and early Christians dealt with their disagreements by ripping out pages or by leaving out or editing Mark for theology.

      • Pofarmer

        Yep, it’s Greek literature, plain and simple.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Yep. Not legends, not myths, just theological tracts. The only traditions from the church “fathers” were the literary kind.

      • Playonwords

        Odd, many other researchers (e.g. Ehrman) point out that Mark has been subject to “pseudoepigraphical” (forged) additions and was edited not once but many times to remove the Gnostic flavour from the pages. An obvious example of both being the addition to the original tale opening of the tomb. The use of chiastic methods does not eliminate the possibility of amendment.

        Although a few parts of Mark used the chiastic form it also largely borrowed its structure from Greek literature such as the Odyssey; hence all the unnecessary voyages on seas and lakes.

        • Greg G.

          The first link of my post has the chiastic of Mark blocked out. Turton detects some unMarkan parts in it.

          Remember that Mark portrays the disciples as not being the sharpest knives in the drawer.

          The sandwich of the Cursing of the Fig Tree around the Temple Tantrum creates a syllogism where the readers fill in the last part.

          Jesus gets mad at a fig tree : the tree withers :: Jesus gets mad at the Temple : ______________

          The readers would think of what happened just like I know what will come to your mind when you read 9/11. I would expect that the Romans would have used the destruction of Jerusalem as propaganda to squelch other rebellions before they started so people would be aware of what happened throughout the empire.

          At the ending of Mark, the readers are expecting the women to do as they are told and the last segment of the chiasm should be a movement phrase, something like the next to last line being “So the women said, ‘Guys, move away from there'” and the last line being, “So they loaded up the donkey and they moved to Galilee.” Instead, it ends abruptly one line early with a pregnant pause with the women not telling. The readers might have known that the apostles were headquartered in Jerusalem and may have been caught up in the destruction of the city.

          The Price link has various scholars who have identified Mark’s sources individually, apparently unaware of each other. By themselves, they seem quite plausible. Combined, they show that very little of Mark comes from Christian sources and much of that is Jesus quoting Paul. So Mark knew he was writing fiction. Those who are reading it as history are going to expect a different ending.

        • Playonwords

          I have not denied chiastic elements. These elements were (a) a very common conceit at the time and (b) easily imitated and subverted. It also requires the interlocutors to be “not the sharpest knives in the drawer,” so having the disciples as such is unsurprising.

          My point, however, was that the structure, a hero voyage from birth to death, extracts many themes from the Odyssey. While this is the source of some labeling errors (the “Sea” of Galilee being the most obvious) the simple geographic, historic and legal errors in Mark point to the whole book as being fiction.

          I strongly suggest you read, not just Ehrman but also Price and Carrier.

        • Greg G.

          One of the links in the first post you replied to is to the heart of Price’s The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems. He added verse quotations to it. I have read Carrier since before he was a mythicist.

          I haven’t denied the Homeric basis for stories in Mark as I often refer people to Dennis MacDonald for that.

          We apparently have no disagreement as what you are telling me is what I have been saying for a few years.

        • Pofarmer

          Hey Gregg. Slightly Ot. Have you heard or read any Novel interpretations about the I clusion of the throwing down of the temple and raising it in 3 days? This almost seems like a throwback to Hercules, or some such.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t recall any tale of Hercules tearing down a temple or building one but I don’t know them well enough to rule it out. It is a bit reminiscent of the Samson story, though.

          I think Mark 14:58 is an allusion to the ending while it has the perjurists conflating Mark 8:31, about the Son of Man being killed and rising after three days, and Mark 13:2, about the buildings being torn down.

          John 2:19-21 combines all that with the Temple Tantrum and 1 Corinthians 6:19.

          Mark 14:57 says the witnesses were lying but John 2:19-21 says they were essentially telling the truth.

        • Pofarmer

          I didn’t realize the versions in Matthew and John were different.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew is similar to Mark but John mixes bits of Mark together into the Temple Tantrum but places it early. In Mark, the Temple Tantrum triggers the Jewish officials to come after Jesus while it is the resurrection of Lazarus that does it in John.

        • Pofarmer

          I mean in John the destruction and rising of the temple is used as a charge against Jesus, and John has him saying it.

        • Greg G.

          Oh, yeah. I think John also tries to say that the mother of Jesus is not named Mary. John talks about three women named Mary but never applies it to Jesus’ mother in either the Wedding in Cana nor the cross scene where there are two other women named Mary, including the sister of Jesus’ mother. Mark gives her name only once about Jesus being “the son of Mary”. John has two similar verses that say “the son of Joseph”, a name Mark never gave.

        • Ehrman will point to evidence of editing of the books of the NT but somewhere else will say that we can be pretty confident that we have know what the originals said.

          There must be some subtlety in his position that I’m missing, because it seems like these contradict.

        • Playonwords

          Originals. Strange, but that word can have little relevance in relation to the Gospels.

          Original what? The original myths written of decades or centuries earlier? The original parables, most of which are repeats of earlier moral tales? Original quotations from the Septaguint? Original glosses on Jewish law by the Levites or the Maccabees or later Rabbinical scholars? Original histories of Josephus and others? A founding document of which no trace remains except supposition and chance correlation? The original edit?

        • The original document that we now call “Mark” (or Matthew, Luke, or John).

        • Greg G.

          What about the Gospel of Thomas? It seems to me that Mark used a few of the sayings and Matthew used some but some of them look like they came from Luke in the Thomas we have received. Would the real Gospel of Thomas please stand up.

        • Or you could ask about Q.

          But just for this discussion, I was asking how we get back to the originals, meaning the original autographs of the 4 canonical gospels.

          Playonwords is correct that other things could be labeled as “original” and you’re adding to the list.

        • Playonwords

          My point is that there were many elements that went into the the documents we now call “Mark” etc. The document we now call “Mark” is all we know as Mark and searching for an original is as pointless as searching for an “original” Arthur or an “original” Jesus. All we can do is acknowledge that there are multitudinous elements in Mark that are demonstrably plagiarized or were inserted at some time during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Centuries.

          There were probably documents circulating among the multitudinous millennialist sects of Judaism (eg the Ebionites) that formed the core round which the Gospel we now call “Mark” was constructed. Elements were added until, possibly as early as 90 CE, the authors of the early Matthew and Luke gospels wrote their own versions sourced from the confection to support their versions of the cult*.

          My contention is that at sometime between 80 and 120 CE an unknown took the fragments used by “Matthew” and “Luke” and constructed a, seemingly gnostic, Mark Gospel on a framework of Greek fiction. Thus you are left with the problem – what is the original “Mark”?
          Is it one of the early Ebionite or Nazarene documents and if so, which?
          Is it the later versions and were used by “Matthew” and “Luke” (or ur-Luke if you do not like the idea of Q)?
          Is it early version taken up by the Gnostics?
          Is it the re-write used by the catholicisers of what became the Church?
          Or is it the final version that was formalised sometime in the 4th Century with the concluding 12 verses?
          +++++++++++++++

          * Ancient sense, not modern.

        • Greg G.

          All we can do is acknowledge that there are multitudinous elements in Mark that are demonstrably plagiarized or were inserted at some time during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Centuries.

          What interpolations are there besides everything after Mark 16:8? Mark appears to be based on the literature of the day which includes Greek literature, such as Homer and Plato, the Septuagint, possibly some Jewish literature, and some Christian literature like Paul’s letters where Jesus essentially quotes Paul.

          Matthew uses almost all of Mark and the parts that are changed or omitted would seem to be for theological reasons. John and Luke appear to have used other versions of Mark with chapter 7 ripped out as both follow Mark in chapter 6 then jump to chapter 8 abruptly but from different places, though John seems to have known something was missing.

          My contention is that at sometime between 80 and 120 CE an unknown took the fragments used by “Matthew” and “Luke” and constructed a, seemingly gnostic, Mark Gospel on a framework of Greek fiction. Thus you are left with the problem – what is the original “Mark”?

          It seems to me that Mark was writing an allegorical tale. He expected his readers to know this as seen by the wink he gives in the story about Legion in the form of a bilingual pun. “Legio” is Latin for a large contingent of soldiers. “Lego” is Greek for “speak” or “said” as it is used in the passage immediately before “Legio” so it looks like “many speak of”, which is the name of the Cyclops in The Odyssey, “Polyphemus” where the roots are “poly” as in “polygon” and “pheme” as in “blasphemy”. Mark even uses “polys” in “for we are many“. It is characteristic for Mark to blend in OT scenes into his story and Isaiah 65:4 brings in the tombs and the pigs while Psalm 107:10 would be his source for the gloom and the chains.

          I think Mark was writing against the Jerusalem faction and never would have expected that people would actually think his first century Jesus was real.

          Is it the later versions and were used by “Matthew” and “Luke” (or ur-Luke if you do not like the idea of Q)?

          I think John used Mark but not quite the same way as the Synoptics. I think Matthew used Mark and John, mostly Mark but John 7:41-42 triggered Matthew to solve it with the genealogy and the nativity. Luke used Mark and Matthew a lot (and Josephus but not Q), took a little from John but mostly rejected it. Josephus points out that Annus had five sons who became high priests and John 18:13 says he had a son-in-law who also did. So the rich man in Hades trying to send a warning to his five brothers at his father’s house would then be Caiaphas, a turn-around from John who had Caiaphas trying to kill Lazarus and, in Luke, Caiaphas is trying to get Lazarus resurrected. The last line of the story shows that Luke has rejected John’s version, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.”

        • MR
        • Greg G.

          Ecclesiastes 1:9
          What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

        • Playonwords

          Example of interpolation in Mark. It is possible to regard the elements prior to Mark 8 26 as being of one source (a Miracles source) and and the elements after 8:32 as being of another (a Ministry source). The linking passage (27 – 31)is interpolated becoming the first part of a chiasm showing the final admission of Jesus’ divinity by Man (Peter) and second being half the fickleness of Men (the disciples) during the Crucifixion – or so I believe. It is also possible to read the elements beginning at chapter 10 as a 3rd source (a Trial source).

          Even with this I do not dispute that one hand brought all these elements together it is just that the textual elements supporting an early Mark can be met by positing multiple sources brought together by a later editor/author and hence identifying an “Original Mark” is not possible.

          In respect of 16:8. There is every sign that an original ending was excised to be later replaced by the contentious final 12. I know that Eusebius and Jerome report that Mark really did cut off short, but neither of these are what you might call reliable witnesses to text. I recall seeing a speculation that there might have been some overtly gnostic or docetic element, but (a) I have no idea where I saw that and (b) it has to be pure speculation until some early document can be found.

          Don’t get me started on Gadarene swine!!!! If one of the Mark sources was being allegorical at least he could have got the geography (and topography) correct!

          John is … very difficult. There are parts which seem to be very early, there are parts which utterly contradict the synoptics, in support of what I have seen referred to as a catholicising or Romanised or antiSemitic version of Christianity. I really do not know enough to venture an opinion.

        • Greg G.

          Mark 8:26-31 seems to be a parallel of Mark 1:2-8 where John the Baptist is presented like Elijah but denies being the Messiah. Matthew also has the passage.

          Mark 10:1-12 appears to be based on Genesis, Deuteronomy, 1 Corinthians, and maybe Galatians. Mark 10:4 refers to Deuteronomy 24:1, 3. Mark 10:5 sounds like Galatians 3:19. Mark 10:6 echoes either Genesis 1:27 and/or 5:2 and continues to Mark 10:8 with 1 Corinthians 6:16 and Genesis 2:24. Mark 10:11-12 pretty much quotes 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, which iself was based on Deuteronomy 24:1-4. But Paul was writing to people who lived under a law that allowed woment to divorce while Jesus was speaking to the disciples who did not, so it wouldn’t make as much sense to them. Matthew seemed to see a problem and dropped Mark 10:12. Luke obfuscates it as well.

          I think Mark was using other writings that were not about Jesus to create the allegorical character of Jesus. I don’t think Mark was writing a history lesson or a geography lesson. 8o)

          John is … very difficult.

          Whew! That’s what I think, too.

          I think John was trying to correct Mark on some points. John uses the name “Mary” for three women but not for the mother of Jesus.

          Mark uses Aramaic terms but supplies an explanation for them while he does not explain the Latin terms he uses so it was written for a Roman audience and not an Aramaic-speaking audience. John opens with a theology that seems to come from Philo with the “Logos” and the Lazarus story apparently comes from Egyptian mythology, so I suspect it comes from Egypt, perhaps Alexandria.

          Matthew and Luke borrowed some small stuff from John but Luke tried some refutation.

        • My point is that there were many elements that went into the the documents we now call “Mark” etc.

          I agree, but there seems to be something special about the document that the author first considered complete.

          My question is: how much does that inaccessible document differ from the Mark in our best Greek reconstruction today? Is it identical but for negligible errors? Or are there important differences?

          All we can do is acknowledge that there are multitudinous elements in Mark that are demonstrably plagiarized or inserted at some time during the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Centuries.

          So then you’re assuming a first-century authorship?

          That’s an interesting hypothesis, but not only do conservatives disagree but even scholars like Ehrman seem to disagree.

          My position is that we can have no certainty and indeed little confidence that our best versions of the gospels don’t contain important changes. The time gap is far too long, and there’s simply no way of knowing.

          There were probably documents circulating among the multitudinous millennialist sects of Judaism (eg the Ebionites) that formed the core round which the Gospel we now call “Mark” was constructed.

          This is an interesting question but different from the one I was focused on. I was simply looking at the changes in the document over time.

          You ask a lot of interesting questions. Are you saying that these have answers that we can find now or that these questions illustrate how foolish it would be to declare that (1) there was a single consistent story and (2) we know what it is?

          My contention is that at sometime between 80 and 120 CE an unknown took the fragments used by “Matthew” and “Luke” and constructed a, seemingly gnostic, Mark Gospel on a framework of Greek fiction. Thus you are left with the problem – what is the original “Mark”?

          This is a new idea for me—that instead of Mark being simply the putting on paper of the Jesus biography as it was known by one particular sect or man in one particular time and place, the origin was so fragmented that the idea of a man spending a few weeks scribbling down his own thoughts becomes a caricature of a much fuzzier process. It ignores the many fragments that preceded that writing as well as the many emendations that happened afterwards. Is this what you’re saying?

        • Playonwords

          Essentially, yes. Even in uncontested areas of authorship there is a larger or smaller “fuzzy” boundary where the originality of the author cannot be easily distinguished. My “go to” example is Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes – partly because it is a modern example of the deification of a fictional character (which, in turn, attracts all sorts of Euhemerus’ attempting to find the “real” man behind the stories).

          There is no doubt that Conan Doyle constructed an original character but you can find all the elements that Conan Doyle used in American, French and British stories. One outstanding example is that “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” a “locked room” mystery which bears a remarkable similarity to “The Adventure of the Monkey’s Paw.”

          To use a deliberately provocative example, the Mark collector is similar to Terry Pratchett, who extracted his magical reality from a multitude of sources including folklore, modern songs, newspaper stories, myths attached to real “great” men as well as pretentious fantasy and science fiction.

        • Greg G.

          I stumbled across a chiastic structure for the Gospel of Luke but haven’t had time to examine it closely. I wanted to share the link with you but I had saved only the title and not the URL. Lucky me. When I Googled the title, it gave me seveal pages from the same site which showed chiasm at different levels. So I changed the search to “Acts” and got several more links. Seeing the structures of the URLs, I deduced URLs for the other gospels.

          I am shocked at how much chiasm there is:

          Matthew
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/40_Matthew_pericope_e.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/40_Matthew_e_1.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/40_Matthew_e_2.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/40_Matthew_e_3.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/40_Matthew_e_4.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/40_Matthew_e_5.html

          Mark
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/41_Mark_pericope_e.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/41_Mark_e_1.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/41_Mark_e_2.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/41_Mark_e_3.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/41_Mark_e_4.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/41_Mark_e_5.html

          Luke
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/42_Luke_pericope_e.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/42_Luke_e_1.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/42_Luke_e_2.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/42_Luke_e_3.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/42_Luke_e_4.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/42_Luke_e_5.html

          Acts
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/44_Acts_pericope_e.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/44_Acts_e_1.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/44_Acts_e_2.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/44_Acts_e_3.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/44_Acts_e_4.html

          John
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/43_John_pericope_e.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/43_John_e_1.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/43_John_e_2.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/43_John_e_3.html
          http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/43_John_e_4.html

          PS:
          Frankly, I was dismayed to see the Woman Taken in Adultery pericope included but it seems to me that John 7:53 and John 8:1 form their own little chiasm and John 8:2-11 is a chiasm, too.

          But that is the only thing I have checked on this so far.

        • Pofarmer

          Greek lit.

        • Pofarmer

          But then, if we know the Gospels have been edited, and also the Epistles, then when we argue over things like “James, the Lords Brother” aren’t we just arguing over hot air? How can any of this prove, well, anything. And Biblical “Scholars” like McGrath are doing textual analysis of these works without even considering Genre.

        • Playonwords

          All textual analysis shows is the portmanteau nature of the gospels, for example the elements of Luke lifted from Josephus or interlinear glosses being included in the text by later copyists.

          Textual analysis does not speak to the historical accuracy of the text. Indeed historians who do not claim affiliation to Christians dogma are clear there is little, if anything, that is factual in the assertions about Jesus’ life or the adventures of Paul recorded in the Epistles or Acts.

  • Partial Mitch

    There were dozens of types of “Christianity” during the first few centuries of the Common Era. This is just a scrap piece of one of them. It’s no more important than the butchered Jesus section of Josephus, or any of the random Gnostic texts in existence. Do I think Jesus had a wife? Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

    Nothing that we find will make me believe in Jesus as a savior, anymore than a scrap about Mohammed from within his lifetime would make my Southern Baptist grandma convert to Islam.

    Nothing that we will find will ever really shed light on who Jesus
    was in reality. Christian scripture (as we understand it today) was all
    written generations later, by folks who were pushing their own agendas
    and philosophies. It’s useless for answering any real historical questions. The books of the NT barely jibe with each other, let alone with anything in the real world. The earliest parts of the New Testement are the writings of Paul and the Gospel of Mark, and they conspicuously leave out one of the main hallmarks of Christian dogma, the virgin birth. Of course, Matthew and Luke disagree on many of the details of the nativity. Much as the synoptics and the Gospel of John disagree about the date of the crucifixion, and the New Testament as a whole is befuddled in regards to events surrounding the resurrection. There is no reason to take Christian scripture any more seriously than Hindu scripture or Zoroastrian scripture or the Iliad. They are all myths, probably all loosely based on historical events, written by clueless people in the ignorant depths of history.

    Unfortunately Jesus was small-time during his life, just one of many wandering holy men in Palestine at the time (and not even the only one named Jesus), so
    we will never have a body of work (as we do for figures such as Gaius
    Marius) that could allow us to piece together a more complete picture of the man. Stuff like this is only interesting to me in that it displays even further the wide range of ideas among the early creators/believers of Christian-ish cults.

  • Ann Kah

    It may be legit, but that is of no importance. What DOES matter is the kickback from christianity, showing a blatant misogyny and indignation at even the suggestion that he might have had a wife.

    • Without Malice

      Well, you know, there’s the whole yucky sex thing to think about. And who wants to think about their savior and redeemer getting it on with his Mrs. It’s just so, uh, you know, embarrassing to think that he was really fully human. I mean, it’s OK to think that God became a human as long as you don’t think of him doing human stuff like having nocturnal emissions, or doing what every teenage boy does, or taking a dump, or having sex.

      • TheNuszAbides

        Are You There, God? It’s Me, Jesus

        • IDogITrust

          Laughed out loud.

  • Snowflake

    Embarrassing admission: I loved The DaVinci Code. It was a fun read and kind of cool to think about, Jesus being married and having a kid. When I was little, and believed, I so wanted Jesus to be married and have kids. And Jesus adopted by God? This is the first time I’ve heard of it. Why would Christians be upset by that? He got the job by earning it, rather than primogeniture.

    But, Mr Seidensticker, I think expecting consistency and open mindedness, from some Christians is a bit unrealistic. You might have to wait until the Second Coming.

    Oh my, did I say that?

    • Eli

      Nothing to be embarrassed about, I think! I liked it a lot myself. It was a fun and creative mystery/adventure story.

  • wtfwjtd

    What happened to that most pervasive of Christian arguments, the “criterion of embarrassment?” I mean, the idea that Jesus might possibly maybe could-have-been married is embarrassing for Christianity, so by their own logic it simply must be true, amIright?

    • Greg G.

      Why would anyone even think that if it wasn’t true?

    • Good looking 30-ish Jewish man not married?

      Gay.

      • Kodie

        It’s like how they used to (be able to) hide a rock star’s wife so all the lady fans wouldn’t be disappointed. If Jesus has a wife, he’s not all about you anymore. He may even have kids to think about. And if he is all about you, but has a wife and then probably implied children, and then had himself killed, what he did for you is kind of a shitheel thing to do to his family.

        • Playonwords

          But leaving wives and family was part and parcel of being a disciple – which was a shitheel thing to ask of your followers

          Luke 18
          28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
          29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake,
          30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

        • Without Malice

          Yeah, that kind of goes against what he said about their being no marriage in heaven. But, what’s fiction for if not contradictions.

      • wtfwjtd

        Of course we know he was a beautiful white chiseled model, all the paintings and movies show and tell us so. Interesting, Jesus said not one word against gay people, ever. Hmmm…

        • Playonwords

          Remember the Centurion and the healing of the “body servant” … just saying

        • Remember Paul and Onesimus the slave.

      • Without Malice

        Hey, maybe he wasn’t all that good looking.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe he looked too European for them.

        • The Beach Boy look isn’t for everyone, I guess.

      • Ron

        Perhaps it was because of his “holier-than-thou” attitude.

        • Greg G.

          Imagine how creepy sex would be for Jesus when his partner called out his father’s name. Poor guy.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Reminded me of the start of this clip: https://youtu.be/N0BCQjbzKeA?t=4

      • Sophia Sadek

        Or broke.

    • MNb

      Because some imaginary 2nd Century author writes something embarrassing about Jesus you hold this against christians? I have met some twisted logic on internet, but this is high on any list.

      • Greg G.

        wtfwjtd is mocking the use of the Criterion of Embarrassment by apologists.

        • MNb

          In a totally silly way – and that’s what I am mocking. But such silliness is rather typical for JM’s (I have not forgotten than wtfwjtd likes the goof Kenneth Miller) so I’m not surprised that you join the choir as well.

      • Without Malice

        What the author wrote may be imaginary, I would argue that of course it is; but it’s impossible for the author to be imaginary or else we would not have the writings. And what do you have against second century authors? which would include the men who nearly everything in the NT.

      • wtfwjtd

        Sometimes sarcasm doesn’t translate very well over the internet. While the “Criterion of embarrassment” can occasionally be a useful tool of the ancient historian, the concept as wielded by the apologist has been mangled and abused to the point of being a much over-done and very tired and worn-out cliche. Are apologists suddenly skeptical about a suspicious piece of papyrus that shows up? Great! They should be. Now, if they’ll apply that same skepticism to other questionable ancient artifacts that suddenly show up, then maybe one can say that my jab is a little over-done. Until then, I think it’s right on the mark.

        • Kodie

          I always thought that the criterion of embarrassment, something I’m not really that familiar with anyway, was more about what the authors would leave in the story because it was too embarrassing, then it must be true. If Jesus was married, they left it out, and why? Is it just way too embarrassing, or was it that they didn’t know her very well and her role in the story was forgettable? If Jesus had a wife, seems like he pretty much left her alone most of the time to go hang out and preach. Or maybe he was widowed so by the time he was 30, nobody knew about his wife, and he didn’t like to talk about it. Her death propelled him to a solitary life and dedication to god. Maybe he killed her, maybe he killed his whole family because god said it was time for him to go on to his real work. I don’t think it should be too embarrassing to mention his wife if he had one and she was present. Lots of dudes in the bible had a wife, then again, a lot of them were on a solo mission and passed on family life to be soldiers or sailors or whatever they felt like doing.

          While it may be embarrassing to Christians to find out that Jesus had some kind of active normal life outside of his preaching, I don’t think it would have been too embarrassing to mention if it was worthwhile to mention.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think in this case, it’s not so much an embarrassment that Jesus might have had a wife. Rather, since Christians had been claiming all this time that he didn’t have a wife and then it was shown that he did have one, that would be the embarrassing part, I think.
          To non-believers like you and me whether Jesus was married or not isn’t any big deal, but to many of the faithful who cling to irrefutable church dogma that they believe was handed down by their god, it is a big deal apparently.

        • Without Malice

          The writers after Mark seemed to be embarrassed that Jesus couldn’t work miracles because of the people’s unbelief, so they changed that to he “wouldn’t” do miracles because of their unbelief. And by the time they got to John someone noticed how the story of the garden of Gethsemane trial made Jesus look like a big cry-baby so he became a man in charge who was ready to do what had to be done come hell or high water. And no way was John going to let Judas kiss on his he-man Jesus.

        • wtfwjtd

          I liked the “spit -n-clay” miracles that Jesus performed in Mark, making him sound like any other sorcerer of his day. No way was the later writers going to allow that embarrassing crap to stay in there.

        • Greg G.

          EDIT: Oops. Replied to wrong post. I meant to reply to myself where I mentioned King Aretas regarding John the Baptist.

          The only verse in Paul’s writings that can be used as a date reference is 2 Corinthians 11:32 because it refers to King Aretas. However, Aretas IV was king from the late first century BC until the late 30s AD, nearly forty years.

          2 Corinthians 11:32 (NRSV)
          In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me

          But even that has issues. It seems that Aretas never controlled Damascus. Aretas III controlled Damascus in the early first century BC until the Roman general Pompey took it in 64 BC.

          Even that doesn’t save the 2 Corinthians passage as the city of Corinth was destroyed in 146 BC and rebuilt in 44 BC by Julius Caesar, so it is not likely that a church there would have the resources to support multiple traveling evangelists.

          See the comments by Peter Kirby.

          PS: I have in some notes that Aretas IV was in power from 9 BC to 40 AD, so that would be about 50 years.

        • wtfwjtd

          Still some good reading there Greg. I found a link to one of Godfrey’s posts that compared Paul as he presented himself in the epistles vs. Paul as he is presented in Acts. Quite a contrast there, it’s clear the two are irreconcilable.

        • Pofarmer

          Could you happen to link the post?

        • wtfwjtd

          Ask, and ye shall receive:

          http://vridar.org/2008/02/03/dating-the-book-of-acts-characterization-of-paul/

          A lengthy post, but chock-full of good, useful info. If you don’t mind, let me know your take on it when you get a chance to read it.

        • Pofarmer

          That was, indeed, a long and useful post.

        • Without Malice

          It’s pretty obvious that changes are taking place in the story to respond to criticism. By the time we get to John there’s no more sermon on the mount, most of the parables are gone and so is the admonition from Jesus that his disciples tell no one that he is the messiah (makes you wonder what they preached when he sent them out), instead of we have the new and improved and more manly and buffed Jesus running around telling everyone within shouting distance that he’s not only the messiah but is on a equal footing with God. Makes you wonder if the legend that he had a twin might be true.

        • wtfwjtd

          A scene from Life of Brian, paraphrased, comes to mind:

          Brian: “I am NOT the fucking messiah! How many times do I have to tell you?”
          Member of the crowd:”Wow…only the TRUE messiah would say he’s NOT the messiah! We’ll follow you anywhere, Lord…”
          (Brian, screaming, running away)…

        • Greg G.

          Mark had John the Baptist baptizing for the remission of sins and it was like Jesus was JtB’s one millionth customer with voices from the big PA system in the sky and descending doves. Later gospel authors had Jesus being holy from before conception so the baptism for remission of sins wasn’t quite right. Matthew had JtB OK it with Jesus before doing it. Luke moved the account of JtB’s arrest to immediately before the verse with the baptism to make it questionable whether JtB did it or not. John has JtB talk about the scene from Mark without saying that JtB performed the baptism.

          The John the Baptism account in Josephus appears to be forged just to say that the baptism was not for the remission of sins. There are a few clues that the passage was interpolated but I think the most obvious is that the forger didn’t completely read the previous paragraph. JtB was killed at a place called Macherus and the account mentions that the place was described previously. The first mention in the previous paragraph tells where it was. The second mention states that Macherus was under control of Aretas, so JtB would have been killed by Aretas and not by Herod. The rest of the passage makes no sense as it makes a big deal of Herod’s army being defeated for killing the holy man by the king who would have actually done it.

        • Mark

          No one believes that Machaerus was ever under the control of Aretas; you might as well say that Jerusalem was, but that Josephus forgot to mention this. This incoherence is independent of the excursus on John the Baptist that you are suggesting is interpolated. Once the text is emended to what Josephus presumably wrote (so that e.g. ‘which was under Aretas’ means something like ‘and one under Aretas’, i.e. the general/strategos who is referred to as setting up the Machaerus -> Nabatea trip – or something like that) – then the John the Baptist excursus makes sense. Of course it, or maybe just the pointless aside about the purpose of ‘John’s baptism’, might nevertheless be e.g. a Jewish christian interpolation.

        • Greg G.

          No one believes that Machaerus was ever under the control of Aretas

          You seem to be making stuff up to support your preconceived idea.

          Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.1

          1. ABOUT this time Aretas (the king of Arabia Petres) and Herod had a quarrel on the account following: Herod the tetrarch had, married the daughter of Aretas, and had lived with her a great while; but when he was once at Rome, he lodged with Herod, (15) who was his brother indeed, but not by the same mother; for this Herod was the son of the high priest Sireoh’s daughter. However, he fell in love with Herodias, this last Herod’s wife, who was the daughter of Aristobulus their brother, and the sister of Agrippa the Great. This man ventured to talk to her about a marriage between them; which address, when she admitted, an agreement was made for her to change her habitation, and come to him as soon as he should return from Rome: one article of this marriage also was this, that he should divorce Aretas’s daughter. So Antipus, when he had made this agreement, sailed to Rome; but when he had done there the business he went about, and was returned again, his wife having discovered the agreement he had made with Herodias, and having learned it before he had notice of her knowledge of the whole design, she desired him to send her to Macherus, which is a place in the borders of the dominions of Aretas and Herod, without informing him of any of her intentions. Accordingly Herod sent her thither, as thinking his wife had not perceived any thing; now she had sent a good while before to Macherus, which was subject to her father and so all things necessary for her journey were made ready for her by the general of Aretas’s army; and by that means she soon came into Arabia, under the conduct of the several generals, who carried her from one to another successively; and she soon came to her father, and told him of Herod’s intentions. So Aretas made this the first occasion of his enmity between him and Herod, who had also some quarrel with him about their limits at the country of Gamalitis. So they raised armies on both sides, and prepared for war, and sent their generals to fight instead of themselves; and when they had joined battle, all Herod’s army was destroyed by the treachery of some fugitives, who, though they were of the tetrarchy of Philip, joined with Aretas’s army.. So Herod wrote about these affairs to Tiberius, who being very angry at the attempt made by Aretas, wrote to Vitellius to make war upon him, and either to take him alive, and bring him to him in bonds, or to kill him, and send him his head. This was the charge that Tiberius gave to the president of Syria.

          That is the paragraph immediately before Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2, where John the Baptist is found. It says “2. Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body;”. Compare that to

          Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.

          The later gospels had Jesus as holy from before conception and they show embarrassment for the baptism for sins because Jesus was supposed to be sinless in the developing theology.

          The timing of those two paragraphs in JA contradict the Gospel accounts anyway. John the Baptist would have had to have been killed before Herod divorced the daughter of Aretas and married Herodias. If Herod feared John as Josephus says, it wouldn’t make sense for Aretas to kill an enemy of his new enemy.

        • Mark

          Right, I am aware of this passage in Josephus, as one might have guessed since I was discussing the sentence beginning ” Accordingly Herod sent her thither,…” in ye olde translation. The inference to some sort of corruption or confusion or other accident is common and has nothing to do with this John the Baptist stuff, but rests on the fact that no one thinks that Machaerus went out of the hands of these Herodians until the Romans took direct possession (not too much later), and would have been too significant to go unmentioned in Josephus or elsewhere; and on the fact that the story on the usual reading is not coherent. The story is one of going to a place near the border, where one’s stuff has been sent, having arranged a succession of couriers to take one across the border to safety. If she’s already in Nabatea when she’s at Machaerus, she and her stuff are already out of Antipas’ hands. So the story has no point. When she asks Antipas, “I desire you to send me to Macherus”, the suggestion is that her intention will not be plain, as it would be if she said “I desire you to send me to my father”. If instead she is going to one of her fortified palaces, said by Pliny to be the second citadel of Judea after Jerusalem, then she is close to the border, but still needs safe passage to Petra or wherever. So a revision of the text like the one I mentioned, or by replacing ‘father’ with ‘husband’, or a million others, seems to be what people presuppose.

        • Greg G.

          That is not the only line of evidence that the John the Baptist passage is interpolated.

          The other gospels back off the baptism of Jesus for the remission of sins and this passage conveniently refutes that. What are the chances? It is like it is designed to do just that.

          The “Macherus, the castle I before mentioned” seems out of place since Macherus was mentioned twice just a few sentences earlier.

          The flow is clumsy. The defeat of the army is mentioned. Then Josephus talks about Herod writing to Tiberius who writes to Vitellius with his orders. Then it is back to the defeat of the army. Then it is back to Vitellius preparing to follow the orders from Tiberius. Without the JtB passage, it flows naturally.

          In Antiquities of the Jews 18.7.2 we find “And thus did God punish Herodias for her envy at her brother, and Herod also for giving ear to the vain discourses of a woman.” That is a joke by Josephus. Herod lost his whole kingdom as punishment from God for listening to a woman. The first and last sentence of Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2 about the destruction of Herod’s army being punishment from God for killing a holy man would spoil the joke. It is more likely that the interpolator borrowed Josephus’s joke to imitate his style. It seems strange to mention the punishment theory twice as the reason for the defeat of the army since he had just explained it was due to the defection of some fugitives.

          If you are going to rewrite Book XVIII, just make it say whatever you need it to say. Maybe somebody will debate whether your version was what Josephus actually wrote.

        • Mark

          > That is not the only line of evidence that the John the Baptist passage is interpolated.

          Right, but I didn’t express any interest in the question whether the John the Baptist passage was interpolated. You weren’t suggesting that the preceding material about the escape of Phasaelis was an interpolation. This will amuse you. I think he is reinventing the wheel, though. http://peterkirby.com/a-conjectural-corruption-of-josephus.html

        • Mark

          See note on the right http://www.loebclassics.com/view/josephus-jewish_antiquities/1930/pb_LCL433.79.xml?mainRsKey=2cJNjV&result=1&rskey=FCPKJc In the print version there is a long note on the left stating what seems to be the standard view, but none of the links on the left shows it. It cites N. Glueck “Explorations in the Land of Ammon”

        • Greg G.

          Thank you. I see your point now.

  • Playonwords

    The failure to account for the single status of Jesus in the accepted tales of Christianity is yet another probability to add into Carriers Bayesian analysis; it is very probable on minimal mythicism but very unlikely on minimal historicity.

  • MNb

    It has been shown that it’s fake.

    http://mainzerbeobachter.com/2012/10/22/nog-eenmaal-de-jezushoax/

    “het tekstje bevat een schrijfwijze die teruggaat op een zetfout uit een moderne uitgave van het Evangelie van Thomas. De vervalser wist dus niet wat hij overschreef.”

    “The text contains a spelling which goes back to a misprint from a modern edition of the Gospel of Thomas. Hence the forger didn’t know what he copied.”

    http://markgoodacre.org/Watson2.pdf

    “One of the arguments in favor of its authenticity is that very few people would be able to create such a hoax.”
    On the contrary – the forgery is clumsy. It’s a copy and paste from the Gospel of Thomas. And faking old documents is very easy as well. Last year a text supposed to be written by Sappho was forged. Here is the recipe in Dutch (the addendum underneath):

    https://apoftegma.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/sappho/

    “pushback against this new evidence”
    This is no new evidence. Even if it weren’t forged it’s from the 2nd Century and according to your own methodology says exactly zilch about Jesus. It would say something about the views of 2nd Century or rather 4th Century Copts, nothing more.

    • Mick

      Google says be wary of clicking on the link to www-gospels-net
      Of the 17 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 13 page(s)
      resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without
      user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2015-04-20,
      and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on
      2015-04-20.

      • MNb

        Thanks for the warning. I have replaced the link with another one.

      • I think I remember a study that found more malware at religious sites than at porn sites. Does that sound familiar to anyone? I could be misremembering.

        • Greg G.

          Satan works in mysterious ways.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        420, eh? The website be smokin’ some funny herb.. 😉

    • Playonwords

      But, to all intents and purposes all of the canonical Gospels are fake, it is only a matter of the degree to which they are faked

      • Without Malice

        Amen. They can’t be said to be forged though, since in none of them is the author named. It’s very strange that none of the early church fathers (a loosely coined term applied to second century characters) quoted from the gospels until the middle of the second century.

        • Greg G.

          Nor did the first century epistle writers quote Jesus.

  • Mick

    There was a gospel that had baby Jesus killing other children who annoyed him, and another that had a cross that walked and talked! Hardly surprising that yet another gospel said Jesus had a wife.

    Christians wrote all sorts of shit about Jesus until the church gained political power in about 400AD – at which point the gospel-writing business came to an abrupt halt.

    • Without Malice

      The gospel of the child Jesus, and all the other “forged” gospels are what invariably happens when the supernatural hero of a cult leaves behind no traces of a real earthly existence. People just begin to make shit up to fill in the empty spaces in his life, which in the case of Jesus, is about 95% of his life. I’m sure that those who wrote these stories thought they were – like those who wrote the approved gospels – writing under divine influence.

      • Greg G.

        Does “about 95%” mean “give or take 5%”? I can’t tell the leftover 5% from the other 95%.

      • wtfwjtd

        Only 95 percent? You, sir, are very generous.

        • Without Malice

          I always strive to be kind. Some days it difficult.

    • I heard WLC talking about how canonicity worked and how the Infancy Gospel of Thomas or Gospel of Peter shouldn’t be in. He told stories like this to lampoon those gospels. And I’m thinking, “Bro, have you read your own gospels lately?” It’s only because we’re familiar with the supernatural tales in them that we think they make some sort of sense.

      • Greg G.

        Acts 5:12-16
        12 By the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. They were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. 13 None of the rest dared to join them, however the people honored them. 14 More believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. 15 They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some of them. 16 The multitude also came together from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing sick people, and those who were tormented by unclean spirits: and they were all healed.

        • Great example. I was also thinking of healing miracles, like the many different ways Jesus heals people–he touches them, they touch him, remotely through faith. My favorites are the spit-mud used to cure blindness. Didn’t quite work the first time, but with a little fine tuning, bingo.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew improved those miracles. Jesus didn’t need no spit. He didn’t need two tries to make a man see. Where Mark had one person healed, Matthew had two healed. When Jesus cursed a fig tree, it began to wither immediately.

          But when the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Peter simply raised the miracle bar up another notch, they became absurd and could not be canonized. They weren’t THAT superstitious.

        • Pofarmer

          If Jesus had a brother, James, why don’t we have a family line?

        • Greg G.

          We have two family trees for Jesus. Why do we need two if his father was God?

        • Pofarmer

          I mean AFTER silly. Why don’t his brothers and sisters show up as lightworkers in the Church.

        • Greg G.

          John 19:26-27
          26 Therefore when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.

          Why would the author of John have Jesus give his mother to the unknown disciple? (I thinking of the Unknown Comic from The Gong Show, which carbon-dates me as a fossil.) Was it because the author didn’t think James was Jesus’s brother? Did the author have a bias against the Jerusalem Church where James was a big-shot? Was this a shot at Gospel of Thomas 12?

          GThomas 12 The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that You will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?” Jesus said to them, “Wherever you are, you are to go to James the righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”

        • My own ill-informed opinion is that this bit in John simply shows ignorance of the James tradition. But either way, it’s yet one more nail in the coffin of inerrancy.

        • Pofarmer

          Did you ask McGrath that?

        • Greg G.

          I don’t recall. I was thinking about it. I thought about many things, decided to post some and decided against others.

        • Greg G.

          BTW, I have read all the links he gave me for homework. I’m going to accuse him of proof-texting Galatians 1:19 as he ignores the context of all the sarcasm.

        • wtfwjtd

          Wasn’t Asherah Yahweh’s wife? I guess that would make Jesus a bastard-child. Or a step-son, maybe?

        • Hera went nuts when she found out about Zeus’s philandering with the ladies. She had baby Dionysus, the result of one such dalliance, eaten by Titans. I wonder if Asherah did the same.

        • wtfwjtd

          Maybe that’s why she seems to have ended up like one of Henry VIII’s wives.

    • Sophia Sadek

      It was not just extracanonical gospels that met an end with the advent of the official state Church. There is a huge body of lost literature. Even certain parts of orthodox literature are missing because of their heretical content. Optatus included a letter from a heretic as an appendix to his book against a particular heresy. It is no longer extant.

  • Will Berger

    a good read, this Christian (who spends some of his spare time reading what folks write on the Historical jesus) appreciates what you wrote.

    • Christians are welcome. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find other posts to be intriguing as well. And good for you for reading material outside your comfort zone.

  • Will Berger

    Having said that, some of the commenters actually need to look at the historical research before drawing some of their conclusions.

    • Playonwords

      Not looking at research and looking at biased research and reporting is a common problem with discussing Biblical “history”.

      A few years ago great play was made about an ostrakon with the letters for DWD scratched into it. The excavators, “Biblical” archaeologists, made claims that this “proved” that a mighty King David existed. Last year a similar group found a seal with no writing on it that “proved” that there was a powerful king in Judea at the time of Solomon – so that proved Solomon. This year it was announced that a first century house had been found in the region of (modern) Nazareth which was “probably” the house where Jesus lived as a boy.

      Archaeologists and historians in Israel who are not funded by Christian groups will quite happily explain that the Biblical Solomon and David did not exist, they are mythic accretions to minor notables who may not even have had those names.

      Equally, it is well known that the City of Nazareth never existed in the period in which Jesus is claimed to have lived. There was a very small settlement on the site but occupation by a Jewish group is unlikely because it was a burial ground and even then the Jewish faith forbade living on such a site.

      • Alma Mercer

        and I would haft to agree , if others would open their minds and do the research , many things would be changed .. thanks good perception .. good answer .

      • Neko

        What? You seem to be channeling Rene Salm.

    • Greg G.

      Hi Will,

      Is there any significant historical research that Bart Ehrman missed in Did Jesus Exist?

  • RichardSRussell

    The Christian commentary that I’ve read rejects the idea of a married Jesus. That shouldn’t be surprising, I suppose.

    Of course it shouldn’t. Unmarried at 30, hung out with a dozen other dudes, always going on about touching this and touching that and kissing feet — What, did he need to wear a flaming pink robe too, to drive the point home?

    • Ron

      There was also that incident with the nekid boy in the Garden of Gethsemane… nudge nudge, grin grin, wink wink, say no more… know what I mean?

    • Greg G.

      Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in John 13:1-17. When Ruth wanted Boaz to redeem her, she went to where he was sleeping and uncovered his “feet”.

      • Ron

        Jesus: Don’t be tellin’ me about foot massages. I’m the foot fuckin’ master.

        Ruth: Given a lot of ’em?

        Jesus: Shit yeah. I got my technique down and everything, I don’t be ticklin’ or nothin’.

        John: Would you give a guy a foot massage?

        Jesus: Fuck yeah!

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh yes. Pulp Gospel.

    • Gee–there’s more porn in the Bible than I thought.

    • “Show us on the doll where the bad man touched you.”

  • Cello Vibrations

    So a document written 370ish years after the fact, during a time when there was no real means of historic validation might be factual. I’m I unclear, have we yet to prove that Jesus even existed; we know Josephus’ document was either forged of fabricated by him or the Flavian Dynasty. ASFAIK there’s been not a single valid piece of evidence the man Jesus ever existed. So the claim that 370 year old story could even be remotely accurate, even if it were from the original writing of the bible there’s no evidence that that penning wasn’t just that, a story.

    Until someone shows me a single piece of NT evidence from birth through crucifixion, then anything dated around 400 CE, is nothing more than draft writing.
    Could this fictional character have had a wife?

    Sure if the writers wanted. They had dozens of ‘speakers’ and ‘theists’ to borrow material from, in a time when lightning had no known cause and was the act of angry gods, anything could be a miracle. Drop me in an untouched culture with an MP3 player and a Zippo and I’ll return a God, to very ignorant, undeveloped natives; but I’ll be a God.

    • busterggi

      The Earth 2 Jesus was married but that was before the Crisis.

  • Sophia Sadek

    I would not have gone to see the movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ,” were it not for all of the opposition from pious Christians about the idea of a married Jesus. Some things are eternal. Christians getting their knickers in a twist over a most petty issue is one of them.