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  1. #1
    TommyO'Brien TommyO'Brien is offline
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    Was Jesus Married? New evidence on ancient papyrus suggests he may have been.

    Was Jesus Christ married? It is something debated for millennia. The early church debated the issue and the canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are silent on the issue, not mentioning a wife but not saying unambiguously that he was not either. Other gospels (non-canonical) do imply he was married. A study of a fragment of an ancient Coptic manuscript by Professor Karen L. King, the holder of the oldest and most prestigious posts in academia in the US, the Hollis Chair of Divinity in the Harvard Divinity School, appears to show a fourth century quote from Christ in which says “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …'"

    Unfortunately, like so many ancient manuscripts, all that remains are fragments and the remainder of the sentence is lost. But if true, and the author is one of the most widely regarded academics and the former Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History in Harvard, it would fundamentally change the perspectives on the historical man, Jesus. While contemporaneous records do prove his existence, the accounts of his life, like most accounts in history from that period, were passed on through oral history before finally being written down, meaning that we do not know how many changes to the account were made either deliberately or accidentally as the account was passed on orally.

    The fragment does appear very tentatively to confirm an ancient oral tradition that said Christ was indeed married, with some accounts saying his wife was Mary of Magdala (Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή) who was inaccurately referred to in mediaeval documents as a prostitute, a description contradicted by earlier documents. But without the rest of the sentence it is impossible to be certain what the document said. But the language in the document unambiguously refers to 'my wife' and there is no obvious way in contemporary Coptic, given what is known of the language, of completing the sentence without it referring to an actual wife.

    Professor King has had the tiny fragment of papyrus examined by renowned experts both in the papyrology and Coptic Linguistics and they concluded it is not a forgery. Unfortunately carbon dating is not an option - carbon dating necessitates the destruction of a tiny fragment of something and with this fragment itself so small carbon dating it would effectively involve destroying it. Future scientific discoveries may enable a non-destructive dating to be done. The associate professor of religion at Princeton has suggested the particular fragment would be impossible to forge - because of how the ink on the papyrus has seeped into the papyrus as both decayed. Nor is there believed to be any motivation to forge it. The piece of parchment had existed in obscurity as part of a larger collection for many years. There is no financial gain to be benefited from its forgery as the collector offering his collection for sale already has a collection valuable in its own right and would not need a forgery to boost its value and those who have assessed it are the top experts who would be likely to spot a forgery a mile off. It would need someone with extraordinary knowledge of second century Coptic and an extraordinary skill in forgery. A forger would also not have left so much of the meaning of the whole document ambiguous.

    And forging on ancient papyrus convincingly would be extraordinarily difficult, ludicrously so for something with no major monetary value.

    The piece of papyrus with the comment is tiny, less than the size of a business card.

    The papyrus contains a number of fragments of sentences, including "My mother gave to me life" and a reference to allowing a woman be a disciple - "she will be able to be my disciple", below the mention of a wife, suggesting that that sentence follows on from the sentence mentioning having a wife. It would appear to a transcription of some parts of either the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Mary - two non-canonical gospels discovered in fragmentary form in 1945 and 1896 respectively.

    Overall, the ancient papyrus raises fascinating questions about the early origins of Christianity and its founder. It is too fragmented to say definitively that Christ was married, but is the only known fragmentary evidence found which directly quotes Christ referring to having a wife to date - through fragments of ancient texts are being unearthed periodically so other texts may emerge to confirm it. As such it is intriguing academics and experts on early Christianity, all the more so because the people associated with its discovery and translation are all widely respected academics with a serious reputation. If later discoveries in other documents in the future confirm what this one appears to suggest, that Jesus was married and his wife was accepted by him as a disciple, it would fundamentally challenge the presumptions of many Christian faiths, but particularly Roman Catholicism, in its belief that Christ only ever ordained men and was himself an unmarried male. It would also confirm what many social historians of the period have suggested, that the nature of contemporary lives in Palestine two thousand one hundred years ago would make it unlikely that a man in his thirties would still be unmarried in a society where marriage was almost universal and where women married often in their low teens.

    Coptic Congress Rome 2012
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/us...&smid=tw-share
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  2. #2
    mido mido is offline
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    have you heard of the Da Vinci Code Tommy?
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  3. #3
    TommyO'Brien TommyO'Brien is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by mido View Post
    have you heard of the Da Vinci Code Tommy?
    Yes. It was garbage. I am interested in serious history, not mediocre makey-up BS in a mediocre novel.
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  4. #4
    Mackers Mackers is offline
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    So who was his mother-in-law?
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  5. #5
    Con Gallagher Con Gallagher is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyO'Brien View Post
    Yes. It was garbage. I am interested in serious history, not mediocre makey-up BS in a mediocre novel.
    Is the life and times of Jesus Christ "serious history"? The writing of the various accounts of his* life and teachings might well qualify, but without primary documents is his life not merely mythology/religious propaganda?

    *assuming he did exist and was an individual as opposed to a composite like St Patrick.
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  6. #6
    Windowshopper Windowshopper is offline
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    Interesting. If the fragment does says what that then it might suggests that some early branch of Christianity thought Jesus was married. However it does not prove if Jesus was married or not.
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  7. #7
    Analyzer Analyzer is offline
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    Can we all start a riot now ?

    Maybe somebody might declare a fatwa against Tommy O'Brien ?

    It was caused by the Copts again....
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  8. #8
    TommyO'Brien TommyO'Brien is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Con Gallagher View Post
    Is the life and times of Jesus Christ "serious history"? The writing of the various accounts of his* life and teachings might well qualify, but without primary documents is his life not merely mythology/religious propaganda?

    *assuming he did exist and was an individual as opposed to a composite like St Patrick.
    Contemporaneous accounts confirm he existed.
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  9. #9
    Politics matters Politics matters is offline
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    If new evidence came out about the prophet Mohammed the Muslims would go wild and burn American flags.
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  10. #10
    Monday Monday Monday Monday is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyO'Brien View Post
    Contemporaneous accounts confirm he existed.
    Nope.
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