Jesus Wife: A Current Claim

It has happened again. They have “found” an “ancient” Coptic writing that “proves” Jesus had a wife. Since this revelation contradicts the Bible image of Jesus it is getting broad distribution in certain critical secular circles. This in spite of the scholars who presented the discovery at the International Association of Coptic Studies in Rome downplaying any possible link between the Coptic fragment and the Jesus of the canonical gospels.

The papyrus fragment on which the conclusion is reached is the size of a business card and contains only eight lines. Scholars are divided on whether the fragment is an authentic ancient text or a modern forgery. Therefore, the reliability of the text is greatly disputed if not totally discredited.

Dr. James Leonard who studies the Coptic language at Cambridge University said even if it is authentic it has no historical value in understanding Jesus because it was written four hundred years after Jesus lived.

Dr. Karen King, the Harvard scholar who has studied the manuscript, agrees with Leonard’s conclusion. She said it does not provide historical reliable data concerning Jesus. Little is known about the fragment’s origin and its owner has not been identified.

King is of the opinion the text has been culled from fragments of other discredited documents and compiled by a person of a more modern era.

Doctors Francis Watson of Durham University and Simon Gathercole of Cambridge having studied the text identified what they believe are evidences of forgery. One factor is the text gives evidence of having been written by a modern author rather than an ancient native Coptic linguist.

Having seen a photocopy of the document it seems strange that the fragment is centered around the word “wife.” It is as though the surrounding text were constructed to frame the word. It is a subtle way to highlight it. It isn’t clear how “wife” was allegedly being used. Was it a statement alleged to have been made by Jesus acknowledging He had a wife or was it a quote He was using regarding another person’s wife?

Bottom line, it is yet another attempt to discredit Jesus and dispute the Bible record of His life. Jesus is as one the world’s most loved and hated, even feared, character. Detractors make every effort to impugn his nature and character.

If, as many believe, He was Immanuel, God with us, He has every reason to feel like a billboard which depicts Him as saying: “Don’t Make Me Have To Come Down There.”

If the work is by a modern forger I hope he might have an experience like that of a lawyer, a Union General who fought along with General William T. Sherman at Shiloh. He set out to research the resurrection in order to disprove it. His findings turned on him and he become a believer. He spent seven years writing a novel centered around the result of his research. His name: Lew Wallace. His novel: “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.”