Friday, November 23, 2012

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife

From the upcoming book, "Jesus and Mary - Husband and Wife?"

In 2011 Dr. Karen King was given a fragment of papyrus written in Coptic. She received the item from a man she is yet to identify to the public. In September of 2012, King unveiled a fourth century Coptic text containing a reference to the wife of Jesus. The scrap of papyrus rekindled intense speculation and discussion about the life of
 the founder of Christianity.

The translation of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is printed in bold font below.

King and other Coptic experts translated the papyrus's eight lines of text, which are cut off at both ends, and read as follows:

... not [to] me, my mother gave to me li[fe] ...
 The disciples said to Jesus, "...
... deny. Mary is worthy of it ...
..." Jesus said to them, "My wife ...
... she will be able to be my disciple ...
Let wicked people swell up ...
As for me, I dwell with her in order to ...
... an image ...

Excerpts from the paper submitted by Dr. Karen King

The paper delivered to the Vatican by Karen King:
“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”

A New Coptic Gospel Papyrus

by Karen L. King with contributions by AnneMarie Luijendijk
Copyright © Karen L. King, 2012

Published here for the first time is a fragment of a fourth-century CE codex in Coptic containing a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples in which Jesus speaks of “my wife.” This 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. Nevertheless, if the second century date of composition is correct, the fragment does provide direct evidence that claims about Jesus’ marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship. Just as Clement of Alexandria (d. ca 215 C.E.) described some Christians who insisted Jesus was not married, this fragment suggests that other Christians of that period were claiming that he was married. For purposes of reference, the fragment is referred to as The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife (GosJesWife).

The papyrus currently belongs to a private collector. Assuming it authenticity for the moment, its language (Sahidic Coptic) as well as the conditions for the preservation of organic material indicate that it was found in Egypt. Nothing is known about the circumstances of its discovery, but we have some clues about its modern
history. The current owner possesses a typed and signed letter addressed to H. U. Laukamp dated July 15, 1982, from Prof. Dr. Peter Munro (Freie Universität, Ägyptologisches Seminar, Berlin). The letter states that a colleague, Prof. Fecht, has identified one of Mr. Laukamp’s papyri as a 2nd-4th c. C.E. fragment of the Gospel of John in Coptic. He advises that this fragment be preserved between glass plates in order to protect it from further damage. This fragment of the Gospel of John is now in the collection of the owner of GosJesWife, who acquired it among the same batch of Greek and Coptic papyri.
We wish to offer here our sincerest thanks to the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, for permission to publish this papyrus fragment…
“Professor Fecht believes that the small fragment, approximately 8 cm in size, is the sole example of a text in which Jesus uses direct speech with reference to having a wife. Fecht is of
the opinion that this could be evidence for a possible marriage.” …

(End of Excerpts)

There is nothing totally new in the discovery of a fourth-century papyrus fragment indicating that Jesus was married. The "Gnostic Gospels," which were written by early Christian sects and uncovered in the Egyptian desert in 1945 ("Nag Hammadi Library"), also reported a romantic relationship -- and possibly marriage -- between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of Philip says:

"There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion."

The complete Gospel of Philip is included in this book for your further study.

Another passage from this Gospel is even more explicit about Mary Magdalene:

"[Jesus] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her (mouth). The rest of the disciples said to him, why do you love her more than all of us?"

Note that the word “mouth” is actually not clear in the text but is missing due to damage. It is assume the word belonging in the sentence is “mouth”. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is also included in this book for your further study.

The Gospel of Mary, found in the 19th century near Akhmim in upper Egypt, also describes a special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene:

"Peter said to Mary, Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them."

In the Gospel of Thomas, on of the oldest records of Jesus we have and likely penned before the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we read in verse 114:

“Simon Peter said to them: Send Mary away from us, for women are not worthy of this life. Jesus said: See, I will draw her into me so that I make her male, in order that she herself will become a living spirit like you males. For every female who becomes male will enter the Kingdom of the Heavens”

The Gospel of Thomas is included in its entirety in the back of this book.
Now, we add to the mounting evidence the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife wherein Jesus himself says:

..." Jesus said to them, "My wife ...
... she will be able to be my disciple ...

Mention of a special relationship between Jesus and Mary is repeated time and time again. Religious documents are rife with such allusions, but there is a problem. Most of the literature mentioning a relationship seems to be written between 200 CE and 400 CE, occurring in the Gnostic writings. Were they drawing on oral traditions and stories passed down that the church wanted to keep hidden or were the stories fabricated to bolster their views of Christianity? Christianity at this time have several faces. Which, if any, was the true one?

The existence of such themes of Jesus and his wife recur in ancient Christian writings and speak to the fact that marriage and children were very important in the lives of Jews, who embraced the Old Testament dictum: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 9:7). It was expected that a rabbi would be married and have a family. How else would one know what direction and support to give those in his synagogue?