Jesus – Married too Soon?

Jesus – Married too Soon? September 23, 2012

Clergy Family Confidential has a list of ten reasons why one would not want to be Jesus’ wife. And then they came up with another ten. For more humor related to the topic, see Christian Brady’s suggestions of how the text might have continued after “Jesus said, ‘My wife…'” and also see the cartoon at the end of this post.

Mark Goodacre has posted a third pdf by Francis Watson. This one highlights the relatively small amount of space that can be envisaged on either side of the fragment, which makes it hard to envisage realistic continuations of each line that could lead to the snippets we have. Watson rightly points out that he is raising legitimate concerns, and not providing absolute demonstrations that the text is a forgery. Others are quickly jumping to that conclusion, however, and some are doing so based on Watson’s arguments.

Perhaps I should say explicitly that my point here and in other recent posts is not to make a strong case for the text’s authenticity, as though my arguments could or should decide things one way or the other. My expertise isn’t in papyrology or the study of ancient handwriting or in the authenticating of manuscripts or in fourth-century Christianity in Egypt. My main concern is that I have seen people in other instances make judgments about the authenticity or inauthenticity of a text much too quickly, before all the relevant data was available. And once we have made such a decision, and chosen a “side,” it is much harder for our minds to be changed. And so the appropriate course of action at this stage is to have the discussions that scholars are currently having, and to treat the matter with the appropriate tentativeness, until all relevant aspects of the question have been adequately addressed.

Ken Brown has a useful reflection on what the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” and the discussions and treatments of the subject online indicate about scholarship in our current technological context.

See also posts and updates by April DeConick, Loren Rosson, Jim Davila, James Tabor, Paul Barford, David Meadows, Lawrence Schiffman, Larry Hurtado, Scot McKnight (who oversimplifies Watson’s argument, which is not that the fragment can be explained as a pastiche of text from the Gospel of Thomas alone), and Bob Seidensticker. Judith Weingarten has a round-up on this and other topics. Harvard is hedging on whether it will publish the academic paper about the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. And of course, don’t miss some what the media is doing with the story – such as one Philadelphia paper trying to make a local connection to Jesus and the missus.

UPDATE: Since I first posted this, additional posts have appeared in the blogosphere, including a round-up by Todd Bolen, and posts by Michael Heiser, Mike BirdElizabeth Drescher, and Chris Ayers.


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