Ancient fragment stirs debate about possibility Jesus Christ was married
DENVER — It is a piece of ancient paper likely to reignite a new debate in the Christian world about whether Jesus was married.
A Harvard professor made public Tuesday a faded papyrus fragment that makes reference to the Son of God having a wife.
But not everyone is a believer of the 1,700-year-old document.
“It is the first case we have of Christians claiming that Jesus had a wife,” says Karen King, who unveiled the text at a conference in Rome Tuesday.
The eight lines written in Coptic read:
“Jesus said to them, “My wife…”
“…she will be able to be my disciple”
“Even in the Catholic Church, in the New Testament, we know Jesus does have a wife, and that wife is the church,” says Andre Villeneuve, a professor of Theology and Sacred Scripture at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.
Villeneuve says the word “wife” is used symbolically—as it has been in the Bible.
He also claims an ocean of evidence proves Jesus was unmarried.
The fragment text also mentions Mary, who is thought to be Mary Magdalene.
”The disciples said to Jesus…”
“…deny. Mary is worthy of it”
“We could say Mary Magdalene was a disciple in the sense she was a follower of Jesus Christ, a believer as we are all called to be disciples. That is different from ordained ministry,” says Villeneuve.
Ann Graham Brock, a professor at the Iliff School of Theology, says if the message is true it could have big implications for some religions.
“Especially in the Catholic Church there is a great need for more priests. Could they be married or could they be women? I think that’s a huge issue,” she says.
But Catholics say the ancient evidence is not convincing.
“Until something comes out and I can see otherwise. My faith I believe is based on something solid,” says Mike Coffey.
“I believe it as old as it is, 3rd century. As far as it being religiously accurate?” says Eric Wheeler as he shakes his head.
“I think that was a couple hundred years after Jesus died. You can write anything,” says Joe Kiss.
King plans to get a chemical analysis of the ink to verify its legitimacy.
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