Following Up the Hint of Jesus’ Wife

The  recent announcement of a bit of Coptic writing that apparently referred to Jesus’ wife has stirred up plenty of controversy. Was the inscription really as old as claimed? Was it a forgery? Did it really mean “wife”?

At the Bulletin for the Study of Religion blog, Ian Brown will bring you up to speed.

But whether or not GosJesWife was written in the 4th century or the 20th century is not actually all that interesting to me (for the record, I suspect it is 4th century, although here I defer to the papyrologists and paleographers who have also drawn that conclusion). Yes, I do Christian origins and am always happy with more data. But I am more interested in the ways in which the initial story was taken-up by the media, particularly the conservative reaction arguing it to be a modern forgery. Regarding the former, it seems we are still standing in the shadow of the Jesus Seminar. Popular interest is focused almost exclusively on the possibility that the historical Jesus was married, and not at all interested in the fact that, assuming its authenticity, people in the 4th century were telling stories about a married Jesus—a detail which I, for one, think is pretty neat! Regarding the latter, well, we are still in the shadow of the Jesus Seminar, only here we feel echoes of the conservative reaction against its version of the historical Jesus.

At Heterodoxology, Egil Asprem passes along some more commentary, focusing on the paleographic questions.

And the reaction of the Vatican is predictable.

2 thoughts on “Following Up the Hint of Jesus’ Wife

  1. While I am holding out for the notion that Jesus was married to several wives at the same time, just because that would probably twist more undies into uncomfortable bunches, it could just as well be that this fragment records part of an ancient mother-in-law joke.

  2. But wouldn’t that turn him into another religious figure from the same region?

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