Did Jesus Christ have a wife? That’s the question that has been bothering Bright Mhango who explores the issue.
If Christians were as passionate about their Messiah as Muslims are for their Muhammad, professor Karen King would either be hiding or her head hanging on a stake. Well, she recently presented a paper that led to the conclusion that Jesus had a wife. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Harvard University professor unveiled a fourth-century fragment of papyrus which she said is the only existing ancient text quoting Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife.
King, an expert in the history of Christianity, said the text contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to “my wife,” whom he identifies as Mary. She says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.
Four words in the 3.8 x 7.6cm fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, King said. Those words, written in a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, translate to “Jesus said to them, my wife…,” King said.
She added that in the dialogue the disciples discuss whether Mary is worthy and Jesus says: “She can be my disciple.”
“From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry,” she said, “but it was over a century after Jesus’ death before they began appealing to Jesus’ marital status to support their positions.”
The script belongs to a private collector who sought King’s help in translation. King presented the document at a six-day conference held at Rome’s La Sapienza University and at the Augustinianum Institute of the Pontifical Lateran University in Italy.
While the Vatican newspaper and Vatican Radio frequently cover such academic conferences, there was no mention of King’s discovery in any Vatican media, reports the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Nothing is known about the circumstances of its discovery, but it had to have come from Egypt, where the dry climate allows ancient writings to survive and because it was written in a script used in ancient times there, King said.
Away from the verification, the carbon dating and the technicalities, what if Jesus actually had a wife? Would his divinity be questioned? Would Christianity be viewed lesser in the eyes of right thinking men?
Those are the questions we floated on Malawi’s biggest Facebook group, ‘My Malawi My Views.’
“Even if the research was proved true, it couldn’t change my faith in Jesus Christ because the Christian faith is not based on whether Jesus had a wife or not! It is based on Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension.
“It is through the death of Christ on the cross where we see the work of Christ having victory over all powers that enslaved man and deliverance from them; it’s the cross that gives assurance of forgiveness of sins and life after death,” said Margaret Namondwe.
Many other respondents thought of the mere question of Jesus married as blasphemous, satanic, outlandish and not necessary. Some even took offense.
One Christian, Greyson Chapita, said the existence a Mrs Jesus wouldn’t move his faith.
“Whether he had a wife or not (which I believe that he didn’t have) Jesus was and is still God. It won’t change anything. Besides, he came as a human being, he was a man just like me. Jesus wants us to concentrate on him being the saviour. Some of these details have little significance on salvation,” said Chapita.
Emily Chirwa also agreed with Chapita, saying Jesus was a human being, born of a woman, despite being God.
“He lived his life just like human do. After all, getting married is part of being human, and he was human only that, he was sinless, he never committed a sin.
“So for me if I am told that he had a wife, or even kids, it can’t be a big deal. What matters to me is that he defeated sin, he defeated death, he rose from the dead and he ascended into heaven, this is what matters most to me as a Christian, because this was his main agenda when he came on earth,” said Chirwa.
Multiphalle Manda agreed with Chirwa and quoted John 21:25 saying: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books.”
The Vatican newspaper has so far labeled the text as a ‘clumsy forgery.’
Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, US, said: “A statement on a papyrus fragment isn’t proof of anything. It’s nothing more than a statement ‘in thin air’, without substantial context.”
Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist attending the same conference as King, said there were “thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things,” and many questions remained about the fragment.
King herself has categorically and in principle denied that she said that Jesus had a wife but said the text shows that some ancient Christians believed Jesus had a wife
If ancient Christians who were near to Jesus say he had a wife, are we qualified to bash them?
Nick Squires, writing for telegraph.co.uk, said proof that Jesus was married would turn the history of Christianity on its head and would have profound ramifications for the role of women in the Catholic Church and the debate about whether priests should remain celibate or be allowed to marry.
The idea that Jesus was married refuses to die. A 2003 publication of Dan Brown’s best-seller “The Da Vinci Code,” angered the Vatican because, among other things, it was based on the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children.
Blasphemous, inaccurate or sketchy, in the end it is only God, Jesus and the people that knew him that have the answers to whether he was married.