This Says Jesus Had a Wife?… A Few Thoughts from Darrell Bock
Yesterday Darrell Bock posted these quick thoughts on the news that a fragment of papyrus was found indicating Jesus may have been married…
I interviewed with the New York Times, Boston Globe, NPR and CNN today about this text that was announced today. Here are some quick thoughts:
It is a small text with no context.
It is a late text (4th century), if the dating given is right.
It would be nice to know where the text came from on the collector’s market. It is a text without any real setting right now, just a date and a few broken lines.
It needs a larger public vetting by experts (like being in the first quarter of a game and asking for comment on the whole).
What is more, in Gnostic Christianity, there was a rite called the bridal chamber in which the church was seen as the bride of Christ. The whole thing could well be metaphorical with a disciple representing the place of the church. If that is the case, then it is not even a claim that Jesus was married in real life to a single person.
It is one speck of a fringe text in a sea of texts that say Jesus was single. It, if authentic, is the exception, to the rule of texts we have on Jesus. Thus, in the end, even if it says what people are suggesting, it tells us only about a fourth century group’s views, not anything about Jesus.
Dr. King is careful also to say this text likely tells us nothing about the real Jesus.
Her claim the NT is silent about Jesus’ marital status is technically correct, but it may well be because there was nothing to say. Everyone knew he was single. The fact there is no wife present at his death may speak volumes. If Jesus had been married, there would be no need to hide the fact. Nothing in the earliest church tradition points to his being married.
Let’s see if time and some additional reflection can help us understand what we have and do not have in this small fragment.
*See the original post here: http://blogs.bible.org/bock/darrell_l._bock/quick_thoughts_on_the_new_jesus_wife_text