New Debate Questions Whether Or Not Jesus Was Married --Celebant Or Who Cares?
Just when you think we can't further dispell the facts in the Bible, or the teachings on the life & death of Jesus, in walks a Harverd Divinity Historian claiming she acquired a piece of what looks like burlap or papyus, that reportedly shows that Jesus might have been married. Or at the least, what his perosnal opinions were on the subject thereof.
Historian Karol L. King made her findings public Tuesday September 18, 2012 during the 10th International Congress Of Coptic Studies.
According to details in the Washington Times
story on Tuesday, King stated that the papyrus is the "only extant ancient text which explicitly portrays Jesus as referring to a wife. It does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, given the late date of the fragment and the probable date of original composition only in the second half of the second century."
goes on to read how, "King and colleague AnneMarie Luijendijk, an associate professor of religion at Princeton University, believe that the fragment is part of a newly discovered gospel," according to a press release from Harvard. "Nevertheless, if the second century date of composition is correct, the fragment does provide direct evidence that claims that Jesus's marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship," King wrote.
The writings on the artifact are made up of 33 words, scattered across 14 incomplete lines. King and other Coptic Scholars admit that this leaves a good deal to interpretation. King plans to explain her analysis in a forthcoming article in the Harvard Theological Review, the "wife' Jesus refers to is probably Mary Magdalene, and Jesus appears to be defending her against someone, perhaps one of the male disciples," wrote Ariel Sabar for Smithsonian.com.
You can read a draft copy of the report here
According to King, "This gospel, like others dated to the second century which make opposing claims that Jesus was celibate, for example, are too late, historically speaking, to provide any evidence as to whether the historical Jesus was married or not. But the fragment does suggest that 150 years or so after Jesus's birth, Christians were already taking positions on such questions. Significantly, this new text pushes the date at which some Christians were asserting that Jesus was married back to a time contemporaneous with the earliest assertions that he was celibate," reported the Harvard Magazine.
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James Tabor, chair of the religious studies department at UNC-Charlotte writes:
"I have written extensively on this subject on my blog, suggesting that my colleagues, from Ben Witherington to Bart Ehrman, who are so insistent that "there is not a shred of evidence that Jesus was married, reconsider the question. I have changed my own position since publishing 'The Jesus Dynasty' in 2006 in which I too insisted the Jesus was married idea was long on speculation and short on evidence."
Tabor goes on to write that, "The implications of the two Talpiot tombs are one factor in my own shift, but in fact I would consider that evidence secondary compared to the textual evidence, including the evidence from silence, that can be mounted. Although I would not attribute or "blame' Karen King, the late Jane Schaberg, Ann Graham Brock, April DeConick, or a host of others for my views, I have been greatly influenced by their work on Mary Magdalene"
Is The Fragment Authentic?
A September 18, 2012 Press Release
from the Harvard Divinity School details two historian authroities who contend it is authentic. Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York, believes the fragment to be authentic based on examination of the papyrus and the handwriting. Ariel Shisha-Halevy, a Coptic expert at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, considers it likely to be authentic on the basis of language and grammar. According to Karol King, final judgment on the fragment, depends on further examination by colleagues and further testing, especially of the chemical composition of the ink.
One side of the fragment contains eight incomplete lines of handwriting, while the other side is badly damaged and the ink so faded that only three words and a few individual letters are still visible, even with infrared photography and computer photo enhancement. Despite its tiny size and poor condition, the fragment provides tantalizing glimpses into issues about family, discipleship, and marriage that concerned ancient Christians.
King believes that it was most likely first written in Greek, and only later translated into Coptic for use among congregations of Coptic-speaking Christians. King dated the time it was written to the second half of the second century because it shows close connections to other newly discovered gospels written at that time, especially the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip.
Like those gospels, it was probably ascribed to one or more of Jesus's closest followers, but the actual author would have remained unknown even if more of it had survived. As it stands, the remaining piece is too small to tell us anything more about who may have composed, read, or circulated the new gospel, King said.
"From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether they should marry or be celibate" But, King notes, "it was not until around 200 that there is the earliest extant claim that Jesus did not marry, recorded by Clement of Alexandria. He wrote of Christians who claimed that marriage is fornication instituted by the devil, and says people should emulate Jesus in not marrying." A decade or two later, she said, "Tertullian of Carthage in North Africa declared that Jesus was "entirely unmarried,' and Christians should aim for a similar condition. Yet Tertullian did not condemn sexual relations altogether, allowing for one marriage, although he denounced not only divorce, but even remarriage for widows and widowers as overindulgence."
Nearly a century earlier, the New Testament letter of 1 Timothy had warned that people who forbid marriage are following the "doctrines of demons," although it didn't claim Jesus was married to support that point.
It wasn't that long ago that scholars were re-debating over whether or not the Shroud Of Turin
Is Authentic or not. That 2011 report did its best to refute the hypothesis that the Shroud might be the work of a medieval forger. But, in the end, there is no scieintific or theological proof that the Shroud is authentic.
Now, it appears a new topic for Christianity, and its doubters, will be in debating whether or not Jesus was married. Does it actually matter if he had a wife? Does it take away from the overall belief that Jesus Christ is both the Son Of God and the greatest man who ever lived? No!
Bottom-line; let's not lose any sleep over it.
More-so (And I'm being a little sarcastic) let's not become violently offended if and when someone produces a new movie that portrays Jesus being married and carefree. And let's not let the mere portrayal of him in less than the most favorable light, cause mass groups of religious sects to take up arms, burn down any churches, riot, pilfer and kill people because of it. Or, at least use that as their excuse.
End Of Story