The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife as a Matter of Discussion
In 2012, the discovery of a small fragment of papyrus with Coptic text launched a great dispute among researchers and theologians. The attention was drawn to the phrase, “Jesus said to them, My wife…” The major announcement regarding the probable marriage of Jesus Christ would have the potential to upend centuries of both Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. Thus, the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, as well as its authenticity, has become a crucial point of discussion in the entire Christian world.
The discovery of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife
The rectangular fragment, which is approximately 4 by 8 centimeters, was first presented by the Professor of Harvard Divinity School Karen King in 2012. The papyrus features eight lines in the Coptic language on one side and mostly illegible words on the other side. The extant scraps of the text repeatedly refer to women; in addition to “the wife of Jesus,” they mention the Mother of God and Mary, about whom Jesus (or another speaker) states that she “may be my disciple.” The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife reached Karen King in 2010 when she was asked by a collector who wished to remain anonymous to translate the text.
According to official religious writings, there is no information about Jesus’ marriage. That is why this artifact has shocked the whole religious world and is considered by many scholars a fake.
Forgery or an authentic artifact?
Despite some errors in the text, the analysis of the fragment proved the authenticity of the religious artifact and found it was created in the 4th-8th century AD. However, King reported that the papyrus itself should not be taken as true evidence that Jesus got married. The researchers of the Dallas Theological Seminary suggested the possibility that in context Christ may not have ever been speaking of a literal wife.
Anyway, the Apocrypha was written centuries after the Jesus’ death, meaning that there were people of early Christian communities who believed in the marriage of Jesus and brought up the issues of celibacy, marriage, and relationships; but it is impossible to speak about the authenticity of the historic context that encloses this papyrus fragment.
Whether it is a reliable artifact or a forgery is up to scientists. However, the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is indeed a prominent subject to speak about in the whole religious world.