Behind every great man there’s a great woman. And who is considered amongst the best of men, but Jesus Christ? Well, evidence has surfaced this past week that indicates the big J.C. had a wife!
A small piece of papyrus has been discovered by a private collector and presented to Karen L. King, a scholar on early Christianity. The artifact, measuring only 1 ½ by 3 inches in size, has writing on it in the ancient language of Coptic and dates back to the fourth century Egypt. It's torn on all four sides so that the writing is incomplete, yet still suggests that Jesus had a wife who was possibly also his disciple.
The piece of papyrus has written on it a phrase never before seen on a legitimate Christian artifact: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…'” Just below that, in the fifth line, it says, “…she will be able to be my disciple.” Following that, in the seventh line, it says, “As for me, I dwell with her in order to…” And the third line that precedes all of this says, “Mary is worthy of it.”
So, what does this jumbled mess of Jesus quotes mean? Well, if this artifact is legitimate, which is still being debated amongst scholars, it would indicate that Jesus was married, that Mary Magdalene was most likely his wife, that she was a disciple of Christ, and, finally, that Jesus had a female disciple.
Before Dan Brown gets all excited with the idea that The Da Vinci Code was gospel all along, many scholars doubt this artifact is legitimate, and instead believe it to be a forgery.
Dr. King didn’t have the artifact carbon tested to verify the age and legitimacy of the papyrus because she said it would require scraping too much of the ink and destroy the artifact. Instead, Dr. King plans to roughly determine its age by testing the chemical composition of the ink through a process called spectroscopy.
Some scholars, such as Darrell L. Bock, senior research professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, stated that “my wife” could be a metaphorical reference to “the church,” based on the fact that the apostle Paul refers to “the church” in the Bible as “the bride” of Christ.
But then there are the believers, such as Dr. Carl R. Holladay, professor of New Testament studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. “The papyrus seems to reflect some kind of conversation between Jesus and his disciples in which he’s talking about real people,” said Dr. Holladay in an interview with the New York Times. “The language is not being used metaphorically.”
So, what would it mean if Jesus did in fact have a wife who was also his disciple? Well, not only would it verify some of what Christian scholars have been trying to dig out for centuries, but also it would most likely revamp contemporary Christianity as we know it.
Let’s keep in mind that many sects of Christianity, including the giant that is the Catholic Church, have kept women subordinate due to traditional beliefs that they are inferior, partially based on the belief that Jesus H. Christ’s chosen followers were all men. What would the Pope say to find out that Peter, Paul and Mary (Jesus's followers, not the band) were of equal status in Christ’s day? It would probably blow his holy mind.
Photo Credit: National Geographic