The discovery was recently announced by Karen King, a professor of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, at the 10th International Congress on Coptic studies held in Rome.
King was first shown the papyrus scrap written in ancient Egyptian in 2010 by a collector who remains anonymous and is said to have acquired the papyrus scrap from an unnamed German in 1997.
The document, which measures 3.1 inch by 1.6 inch, also includes the sentences: ““My mother gave to me life,” “Mary is worthy of it,” and “She will be able to be my disciple.”
Aside from questions surrounding the motive of the anonymous owner, whose tiny document may be increasing in value amid the publicity, other experts remain skeptical about the document being authentic.
Stephen Emmel, a professor of Coptology at the University of Muenster in Germany, stated in an interview on the sidelines of the conference, “There’s something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow.”
Some experts commented that the writing on the papyrus is “personal writing,” whereas in ancient manuscripts it would have been written in a more rigid way, similar to a printed text. At the conference Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, said, “I would say it’s a forgery. The script doesn’t look authentic.”
Even if this proved to be an authentic product of a fourth-century writer, why would that carry more weight than the loyal, candid, gospel writers of the first century who either knew Jesus personally or lived in his era? It was no crime to be married. So why would anyone cover up a marriage unless it never happened?
In fact, why assume every article written about Jesus, hundreds of years after his death, was historical? Ancient civilizations had fiction writers the same as we have today. Are we to assume that every writer in the past was a historian? People wrote for entertainment and fun even as they do today. Apocryphal gospels flourished in the first, second and third centuries of Christianity. Don’t be surprised if archaeologists dig up more baseless assertions about Jesus than this one.
A huge problem with this expanding ideology of Jesus being married, is that it gives an answer before we can look at the evidence. In doing so, certain individuals end up molding the evidence to fit their preconceived ideas. This papyrus fragment is no more proof that Jesus was married than someone finding fragments of this column 1,000 years from now and saying its writer believed Jesus was married while on earth, which I do not.
Experts don’t even know if this fourth-century fragment could have intended to include the words, “Jesus said to them, my wife — is the congregation,” or “Jesus said to them, my wife — will be those with me in heaven.”
That would harmonize with similar statements in the Holy Bible at Revelation 19:7-8: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” — New King James Version.
As Paul wrote to the Christians in 2Corinthians 11:2, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” — New International Version.
The relationship between Christ and Christians going to heaven is so close, that their oneness was likened to a husband and wife in Scriptures like John 3:28-30, Ephesians 5:22-32 and Galatians 3:28.
In fact, when an angel carried the Apostle John away saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb,” at Revelation 21:9, verses 10-11 says the angel showed John “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” — English Standard Version.
This spiritual bride, this “holy city,” will join Jesus in bringing untold blessings to those who will enjoy “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8:21 — New World Translation.
The Scriptures are clear that Jesus knew his life would be short-lived, cut off in his prime (Matthew 16:21). Clearly, he came to die for our sins and glorify God, not marry and have children.
Based on a few incomplete sentences written some 400 years after Jesus walked the earth, some people may be ready to dismiss centuries of documentation provided by eyewitness disciples of Christ. But for millions of Christians, the Bible is the best, most reliable source of information on the life and ministry of Christ.
If you agree, then feel free to join in saying, “I do.”