I am sure you’ve seen the reports by now:
- The New Zealand Herald – New script refers to ‘wife’ of Jesus
- Stuff.co.nz – Papyrus discovery suggests Jesus married
Yep we have the fresh makings of another The Da Vinci Code (See this excellent website for all you need to know in refuting the claims made by Brown in his book.)or The Gospel of Judas (See a helpful interview with Dan Wallace on this.).
There have already been a number of excellent and helpful responses to this latest sensation:
- Todd Bolen of BiblePlace.com (He links to several articles from around the world on this.)
- Christian Askeland at Evangelical Textual Criticism
- Michael Kruger at The Gospel Coalition (Kruger has written in the past on his own bog about “Apocryphal Gospels and the Mainstream Media”)
- Simon Gathercole at Tyndale House
- Why does everyone want Jesus to get married? from The Briefing
- Albert Mohler – The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife? When Sensationalism Masquerades as Scholarship
- How a Fake Gospel-Fragment was Composed
- Vatican: Jesus’ Wife Claims Fake
- Unlisted Scholarly YouTube Video with Visual Analysis
As you will read from Bolen, the media is generally misquoting the original academic paper and giving this a spin not stated in the paper itself. This should not surprise us as the media is often driven by the goal to “make a story” rather than simply “reporting the facts.”
You will read in several of the above linked articles that papyrus experts from around the world are less than certain on the authenticity of the fragment.
You will also find that, even if it is authentic (meaning it is really a fragment from the 4th century) the assumptions made by the author of the academic paper (i.e. this fragment was copied from a 2nd century document) have not been substantiated and are highly unlikely.
You will also see that the title given to this fragment “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is itself farfetched and sensational. This is a 4 X 8 cm papyrus fragment. No one has any idea what it was originally part of, or what the rest of the document contained. To claim it is part of a “Gospel” or a “Biography of Jesus” is a stretch indeed.
Finally, in the media reports on this along with the academic paper you will read statements like, “There are no reliable, historical documents that authenticate Jesus was unmarried.” Do you see the presupposition in that statement? They are clearly stating that they do not believe the four New Testament Gospels are historical and/or reliable. This, of course, is an assertion which must be proven and in the end there is far more evidence in support of their historicity and reliability than not. It is utter nonsense to make such a claim.
Until the Lord returns there will be no end to the attempts to discredit Him, the Bible, and the message of the Gospel. This does not come as a surprise.
Yet, each and every time, we see all the more reason to trust Christ and His Word as these theories and claims are shown to be false and unwarranted.
We have a great God who has given us His reliable, authoritative, sufficient Word within the pages of the Bible. Praise Him for His faithful to us.