Here’s a round up of thoughts on the scrap of pyprus that refered to Jesus’ wife:
Stephen Prothero, Boston University religion scholar and author, CNN Belief Blog:
What we do know is that we live in a country besotted with Jesus and in an age obsessed with marriage and sexuality and the body, which is why this tiny papyrus is making such big waves. As for me, I don’t much care what Jesus thought about marriage, or whether he engaged in it. I think we as a society tend to collapse religion far too readily into bedroom questions, as if Jesus came into the world to tell us with whom we should be having sex, and how. I’m more interested in what Jesus has to say about wealth and poverty, the rich and the poor. And there is plenty in the available record to read and heed, “if only we have ears to hear.”
Steven R. Harmon, professor Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity and author, Associate Baptist Press News Blog:
The celibacy of Jesus is not essential to Christology, just as Jesus’ maleness is not essential to Christology… The particularities of Jesus’ historical existence are representative of the totality of human experience, from birth through death and resurrection, even if they do not reflect the particularities of every human being’s experiences… Theologically, for Jesus to have been married would not require us to re-think historic Christological doctrine. But historically, there is not sufficient evidence to suppose that he was–even if the best interpretation of this fragment is that Jesus therein is referring to a woman named Mary as his “wife” in the usual sense of that word.
Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, via LA Times:
What you are looking at above is a 1,600 year-old piece of papyrus that was written in Coptic. A New York Times’ article on it set off speculation on whether or not Jesus was married:
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 …’”The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”
Hold on there all you Dan Brown fans, don’t get too excited. There’s more to the story.
The Smithsonian Magazine has a lengthy back story on the papyrus and the scholar who discovered it. I highly suggest you read it when you have the time. The papyrus looks to be authentic, meaning that it is not a modern forgery. And, the Smithsonian Channel will premiere a special documentary about the discovery on September 30 at 8 p.m. ET
So the question remains, could have Jesus been married? Sure. Is it likely he was married?
How do sell copies of a dying medium? Put a hipster looking Jesus on the cover. It’s kind of interesting… the whole, “What if God was a dude?” routine. Hipster, yeah, it has been done before and we get it. Not really surprising.
What is more shocking is that Newsweek thinks Jesus is an Anglo-Saxon looking dude who doesn’t like buttons but snaps on his shirt. The Atlantic thinks he looks more like an Urban Outfitters Jesus. Give the cover a look and you decide which one it is:
The cover article is by Andrew Sullivan and he writes of the decline of Christianity. It takes him about 500 words to get to the point: Christianity is in crisis. I’m not troubled by the inaccurate depiction of Jesus or that Sullivan tells us what we already know about Christianity, but that he makes a bold statement without follow through. The article accurately describes the crisis but without remedy. Sullivan goes into great detail about how Thomas Jefferson and his edited ‘Bible’ sought to make faith palatable and how that’s supposed to correlate to solving the crisis.
The article really does not contribute anything to discussion of how to concretely connect Christianity to post-moderns or to enact reform. Sullivan writes, Continue Reading…
Hmmm... I think I'll wear my "Jesus is my homeboy" shirt today.
Many of us have heard of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) but how about WWJW (What Would Jesus Wear?) Check out this actual toy , on the right, that is sold in stores. I first thought this was a joke, but then I saw that you can buy this doll action figure for about $15. Based on this action figure, Jesus would wear just about anything. Including a 80’s boom box stereo (look close in the back ground) I’m glad to see a cross is there. I think.
Some may see this as sacrilegious, but I think it is a point of reference for commentary in our culture. No longer is Jesus off limits from commercialization. Sure “Christian” businesses make money of Jesus related digs, but now we see secular businesses making money off Jesus’ likeness. Trademark infringement anyone?
The likeness of Jesus and his apparel may not seem critically important to the average person. Christ spoke a few times about clothing, but never clear on what to wear. There are references to sharing clothing and being watchful of the Pharisees wearing their religious clothing in order to be seen.
Should we be concerned with what we wear?
With the “fall of Christianity” threatening to end the faith as we know it (yeah right), The Barna Group conducted a study of 1,002 U.S. adults, discovered:
- Two out of every three adults (67%) claimed to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus that is currently active and that influences their life.
- While a majority of most demographic segments said they had such an active and personal relationship with Jesus, some segments were more likely than others to claim such a connection.
- Women (72%) were more likely than men (62%) to do so.
- Protestants were more likely than Catholics to cite such a relationship (82% versus 72%).
- People who describe themselves as mostly conservative on social and political matters were far more likely than those who see themselves as liberal on such issues to connect with Jesus (79% compared to 48%).
- And one of the most instructive findings was that the younger a person was, the less likely they were to claim to have an active and influential bond with Jesus. Specifically, while 72% of adults 65 or older and 70% of Boomers (i.e., ages 46 to 64) had such a relationship in place, 65% of Busters (i.e., ages 27 to 45) and only 52% of Mosaics (ages 18 to 26) did, as well.
- A large majority of Americans (59%) also believes that Jesus gets personal in their lives, going so far as to feel their pain and share in their suffering.
via The Barna Group – Americans Feel Connected to Jesus.