Gospel of Jesus’ wife

Published by 1c15 on

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Karen King, the Gnostic scholar who published the manuscript, has titled it the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. It is a very small fragment, only 12 partial lines, of an ancient Gnostic book. The Coptic written fragment is dated 4th century but it seen as a copy of an older book. Modern research however is coming to a conclusion that the manuscript is indeed a fake [https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2012/jesus-wife-papyrus-an-update].

Reasons for rejection/non-inclusion

  1. Appears to have been written outside the Apostolic age
  2. It is Gnostic, these guys wern’t around until the second century anyway in the relevant areas.
  3. Likely a modern forgery
    1. Wrong dialect of Coptic for the time it claims to be written
    2. Makes grammar mistakes a native speaker wouldn’t make
    3. Everything appears cut-and-paste from the Gospel of Thomas
    4. Line divisions suggest it is based on a recent publication
    5. It was found with another document written by the same “scribe” that is almost certainly a forgery [https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2012/jesus-wife-papyrus-an-update]

Useful external attestation details 

This is the entire text.. it as holes.

1 ] “not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe…”

2 ] The disciples said to Jesus, “.[

3 ] deny. Mary is worthy of it

4 ]……” Jesus said to them, “My wife . .[ [

5 ]… she will be able to be my disciple . . [

6 ] Let wicked people swell up … [

7] As for me, I dwell with her in order to . [

8] an image [

1 ] my moth[er

2 ] three [

3 ] …[

4 ] forth which … [

  1. Jesus is mentioned
  2. There are disciples 
  3. Jesus allowed women disciples
  4. Jesus knew someone named Mary

We can glean some details without trying to add our own “this possibly says”. But Like stated earlier, if this is a modern forgery, it adds nothing to the later external attestation of Jesus

Three reasons why Jesus was not married

  1. The New Testament never mentions a wife. 
    1. Since the NT authors mention Jesus’ mother, father, four brothers, some sisters, an aunt, and some cousins, it is very unlikely that Jesus had a wife and no one mentioned it. 
  2. Second, Jesus described a special calling of celibacy to allow a greater focus on the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:10-12; cp. 1 Cor 7:7-9). This strongly implies that Jesus was celibate. 
  3. The church fathers, some of whom had access to reliable oral tradition about Jesus, believed that Jesus never married (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Chrysostom, as King points out).

One thing to make clear, obviously, that if Jesus was married, it doesn’t really make a difference theologically, it would just be an interesting fact, despite every inference suggesting his celibate life.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *