Skip to content

A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife


The New York Times notes: “A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: ‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

1.  Karen King is a reputable scholar whose conclusions would be worth careful consideration.  Incidentally, she holds the same prestigious endowed chair as my graduate school mentor (G. Ernest Wright) did before her!

2.  Given the scholars and specialists with whom Professor King consulted there appears to be no compelling reason to doubt the fragment’s date, translation, and authenticity.

3.  I would emphasize Professor King’s statement, “This fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married.”  Rather, it suggests that there were Christians in the 4th century AD, and perhaps earlier, who may have wanted to believe that he was.  Currently, we have no corroborating evidence that he was.

4.  The timing of this discovery is interesting for at least two reasons:  One, of course, is the current discussion relative to the role of women in the church.  The other is the current conflagration in the Muslim world over a modern Copt’s depiction of Muhammad in the video that is making the rounds!

5.  Maybe the lesson we should take to heart revolves around this question:  What belief or stand have Adventists taken that could be destroyed or at least questioned by a future (or even current!) authenticated historical or scientific discovery?

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.