Monday, October 22, 2012

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago for the blog at the University of St. Thomas. It is an overview for a general audience. Sentiment seems to be turning against the authenticity of this fragment to a greater extent than I propose in my blog post, but I decided to stick with my initial assessment because we still need to get a dating on the ink. Probably all of the hullabaloo could have been avoided if Professor King would have waited for the testing, but I still think she rolled out the paper in a scholarly manner.

Here's a couple of excerpts from my piece:

King made one mistake, however, in her release of this fragment and that was in calling it “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Why is this a mistake? It is not a Gospel, it is a fragment (of something) and we do not know where it comes from or to what larger text it belongs. Perhaps, it is a gnostic Gospel and perhaps it is not.

And:

The evidence, therefore, points to a modern forgery, but this is not certain either. Let’s say it was real. Does the text tell us anything new or different from what we know about early Christianity? I suppose that the two words “my wife” from the mouth of Jesus would be new if we were certain that it referred to an actual woman who was his wife, but we are not certain that is the case.

Keep in mind, too, that even if it did say these words, the text is thought to emerge (if genuine) from a second century context. It would not be proof that Jesus was married. It would be proof that some later Christian group – gnostics or others – thought he was or wished he was married for theological reasons which are not clear to us.

Read the rest of the post at The Weigh-In at UST's Newsroom.

John W. Martens
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