Current Events Articles: September 2012

Jesus' Wife Fragment Appears To Be A Fake posted by Henry B. Smith Jr. MA

"This from an email Dr. Craig Evans, the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University and Divinity College, sent to me [Dr. Daniel Wallace] earlier today. He said that Helmut Koester (Harvard University), Bentley Layton (Yale University), Stephen Emmel (University of Münster), and Gesine Robinson (Claremont Graduate School)–all first-rate scholars in Coptic studies–have weighed in and have found the fragment wanting. No doubt Francis Watson’s comprehensive work showing the fragment’s dependence on the Gospel of Thomas was a contributing factor for this judgment, as well as the rather odd look of the Coptic that already raised several questions as to its authenticity." -Dr. Daniel Wallace

Quoted from Dr. Wallace's Blog at: Jesus' Wife Fragment Judged A Fake

Update on 9/26/2012 around 7:30 PM EST:

Dr. Wallace has published another brief blog post that seems to indicate Harvard has changed its mind. There seem to be some conflicting reports: "After I posted the news which I received from Dr. Craig Evans that HTR was not going to publish the fragment because it had been judged to be a fake, I then got news that HTR was going to publish it. Here’s the link that gives the data": Religion News.com    

Somebody Once Believed Jesus Had A Wife posted by Todd Bolen

The lead paragraph of the USA Today article (offsite link) says it this way:

A papyrus fragment from the fourth century contains a phrase in which Jesus refers to "My wife," which a U.S. scholar says is the first evidence supporting the belief among early Christians that he was married.

That’s the version that most will read. Contrast that with first paragraph of the academic paper (offsite link) on which the story is based (bold font mine):

Published here for the first time is a fragment of a fourth-century CE codex in Coptic containing a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples in which Jesus speaks of “my wife.” 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. Nevertheless, if the second century date of composition is correct, the fragment does provide direct evidence that claims about Jesus’s marital status first arose over a century after the death of Jesus in the context of intra-Christian controversies over sexuality, marriage, and discipleship. Just as Clement of Alexandria (d. ca 215 C.E.) described some Christians who insisted Jesus was not married, this fragment suggests that other Christians of that period were claiming that he was married.

A few observations:

1. We have known for a very long time that some people around the year 200 argued that Jesus had a wife.

2. A newly discovered but poorly preserved fragment may suggest that some people around the year 200 argued that Jesus had a wife.

3. Ancient texts that showed that some people believed that Jesus had a wife were non-existent until the discovery of this fragment.

4. There were many “Christian” groups in the first few centuries that had bizarre beliefs that contradicted Scripture.

5. The early church was in wide agreement that Jesus did not have a wife.

6. No first-century document ever mentions or hints at the possibility that Jesus had a wife.

7. Jesus understood his identity and his atoning death from the beginning of his earthly ministry, and he knew that marriage was not part of his mission.

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ABR Editorial Note: This article was posted by permission of the author with minor edits. We will be posting more information and analysis shortly on this recent news story.

First Temple Period Reservoir Found Near Western Wall posted by Henry B. Smith Jr. MA

For more, visit the Israel Antiquities Authority (off site link).

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