"A previously unknown scrap of ancient papyrus written in ancient Egyptian Coptic is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters September 18, 2012. The papyrus has four words written in Coptic that provide the first unequivocal evidence that within 150 years of his death, some followers of Jesus, believed him to have been married."
The surprise is that this wasn't released the week before Easter or Christmas, however, there is little surprise that the media has miraculously leaped to their feet to proclaim this new "truth"---the "gospel of Jesus' wife."
Some say this actually authenticates Dan Brown's DaVinci Code. The secular progressives knew it was true all along.
But wait. Is the press getting ahead of the facts?
What does the professor who introduced this previously unknown scrap of ancient papyrus have to say about it?
And did you know the Harvard Theological Review, that had scheduled this new find to be published in January, 2013, is now saying they may not publish it?
Karen L. King, the scholar who recently revealed the existence of the manuscript fragment says in the press release:
"This is the only extant ancient text which explicitly portrays Jesus as referring to a wife. It does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married, given the late date of the fragment and the probable date of original composition only in the second half of the second century."
Near the end of her article, King, with contributions by AnneMarie Luijendijk, reiterates:
"Does this fragment constitute evidence that Jesus was married? In our opinion, the late date of the Coptic papyrus (c. fourth century), and even of the possible date of composition in the second half of the second century, argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus."
Of course, King’s measured judgment here will do little to stop the tidal wave of claims that we now have definitive evidence if not proof that Jesus was actually married. Dan Brown and his spokesman, Sir Leigh Teabing, appear to have been right all along! At least this is what we're hearing from many corners.
In fact, as Karen King rightly observes, the discovery and publication of the fragment known as the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife in fact tells us nothing about the first-century man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. If it is genuine, the fragment of the otherwise unknown document will tell us something about the beliefs of people who lived a century or two after Jesus, though what exactly we should conclude on the basis of this small piece of an ancient manuscript is yet to be determined.
Harvard University says it has not actually committed to publishing the research, even though its divinity school touted the research during a publicity blitz this week.
This past Friday, the review’s co-editor Kevin Madigan said he and his co-editor had only “provisionally” committed to a January publication, pending the results of the ongoing studies. In an email, Madigan said the added studies include “scientific dating and further reports from Coptic papyrologists and grammarians.”
After Tuesday’s announcement, even The Associated Press raised questions about the fragment’s authenticity and provenance, quoting scholars at the international congress on Coptic studies in Rome, where King delivered the paper. The scholars said the fragment’s grammar, form and content raised several red flags. Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, flatly called it a “forgery.”
All of this points to a much larger and more important question:
Who is Jesus?
My friend Josh McDowell says He is either a liar, a lunatic or He is Lord. I have linked Josh's comments. I recommend you read them---even if you know the right answer. It's affirming to one's faith to read it again.
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Thankful. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.