Friday, September 21, 2012

Was Jesus Married? Um, No.

This past week a significant find was made public of an ancient text fragment from the fourth century.  The text is supposedly from a gospel (given a loose understanding of the word) that contains the words, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'"  For some this has reopened questions about whether or not Jesus was married.  If one were to only use the mainstream media as the sole source of information and reporting, it would seem that it is an open and shut case that Jesus was, in fact, married.  This is absolutely not the case, however, and those in the media should be ashamed of how they have reported this story.  Let me state emphatically that this ancient fragment does not prove that Jesus took a wife for at least two reasons:

1. The text is very similar in content and date to several Gnostic texts and gospels, which have been shown to be inaccurate and unhistorical, and have been rejected by the church as legitimate sources of information about Jesus and his life and ministry.  There are other Gnostic gospels that assert similar conclusions, like Jesus being married.  One even says that he killed a young boy for stealing some food from him as a child.  Again, these texts have been shown to be not trustworthy, and this one is no different.

2. Secondly, and perhaps more unfortunately, there's nothing even in the ancient fragment that would indicate that Jesus was married.  People have arrived at that conclusion after a significant amount of interpretation, and more unfortunately, after they have listened to the media reports on the subject, which are completely inaccurate.  In other words, people have taken the words "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'" and have built a whole hypothesis on Jesus' marital status on those six words.  That's a pretty big leap to take.

So take heart, dear Christian.  There is nothing here that threatens our faith.  There is nothing that should alarm us or cause us to question the validity of scripture.  If anything you should be dismayed that people involved in this find have been so sensationalistic in their reporting about what they have found.  It doesn't speak very highly of the academic process.  

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