Was Jesus Married?

11:11 am apologetics, Bible, faith

A recent internet article titled, “Nine Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Jesus” affirmed the notion that Jesus was married.  The article referenced an ancient papyrus scrap found in 2014 that referred to the wife of Jesus.  We will examine the evidence for this papyrus fragment
An article published in Biblical Archeology Review (BAR-May/June, 2015) by Harold Shank examined the evidence for the papyrus fragment that stated that Jesus had a wife.  Here are some of the findings and facts:
1. Karen King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School (she currently holds the oldest endowed academic chair in the United States) drafted a lengthy manuscript on the little papyrus fragment, the size of a business card with eight incomplete lines on one side and six illegible lines on the reverse.  This fragment is referred to as”The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” and was given to King anonymously.  It is the only text from antiquity in which it is stated that Jesus has a wife.
2.  King was careful to say that the fragment supplied no reliable historical evidence that Jesus was married, but that some Christians depicted him as married.  King believed the fragment was dated in the fourth century, but was of a composition earlier in the second century.  However, the fragment, dated by Carbon-14 methods, was found to be an eighth century document.
3.  Since the fragment was received by King from an anonymous donor, there is no provenance (historical background) for it.
4.  At first, King submitted her analysis of the fragment to the Harvard Theological Review for publication.  It was accepted and scheduled for publication in January, 2013.  But, it was not published then.  Information about the fragment was also posted online where other Coptic (a form of late Egyptian) scholars could evaluate it.
5.  Leo Dupuydt, Copitc scholar at Brown University, examined it and declared it to be a forgery.  He said, “It stinks.”
6.  Francis Watson at the University of Durham also declared the fragment a forgery.  Other scholars seemed to think it was authentic.
7.  The Harvard Theological Review decided not to publish King’s analysis of the fragment.
8.  After more tests and other scholars weighing in on the controversy, HTR decided to go ahead and publish King’s findings in April, 2014.
9.  The Smithsonian Institution in Washington made a television program about “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” before January, 2013, but after HTR decided not to publish the findings from King, they decided not to air the program.  When HTR published King’s analysis of the fragment, the Smithsonian aired the television program.
10.  Within days of the publication of the new evidence and analysis in HTR, a bombshell dropped on the scholarly world.
11.  The anonymous donor of the fragment had given King another slightly larger fragment from the Gnostic Gospel of John.  It was also in Coptic as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment.
12.  Another scholar, Christian Askeland, an American Coptic scholar associated with Indiana Weslyan University, and who had recently completed a Ph. D. on the Gnostic Gospel of John knew of another Gospel of John fragment in Coptic called Codex Qau.  He compared it to the fragment of the Coptic Gospel of John that had been given to King.
13.  Askeland found that the text of the small fragment of CGJ replicated every other line from a leaf of the Codex Qau (discovered in 1923 and known to be authentic).  CGJ was a forgery of Codex Qau.
14.  The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” fragment was written in the same hand and with the same writing instrument as the Coptic Gospel of John (CGJ) which was given anonymously to King.  The conclusion:  if one is a forgery, so is the other.
15.  The overall conclusion:  the fragment, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is probably a forgery and since it is the only text from antiquity that states that Jesus’ had a wife, that notion is completely false.
16.  Karen King acknowledges that this evidence is weighty.
Many have attempted to prove that the Scriptures are unreliable.  None of the Gospels indicate that Jesus was married.  Here are a few facts about the reliability of the Scriptures.
1.  Fact:  archaeology has yielded more than 25,000 finds that either directly or indirectly relate to Scripture.
2.  Fact:  The historical existence of some 30 individuals named in the New Testament has been proven.  Jesus is one of those historical individuals.
3.  Fact:  The historical evidence of nearly 60 individuals from the Old Testament has been proven.  BAR lists 52 of these individuals.
4.  Fact:  Only a fraction of possible biblical sights have been excavated in the Holy Land.  There is much more information to be discovered.  (God-Breathed, Josh McDowell, pp. 158-159).

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