Bible Archaeology

A New Early Christian Text, Indicates Jesus May Have Been Married?

No, it proves nothing (!) and mostly (but not exclusively though) because it has no provenance. For any given antiquity, provenance is essential for credibility and historicity. That of this ancient manuscript is as yet undetermined.

[Emphasis mine.]

A discovery by a Harvard researcher may shed light on a controversial aspect of the life of Jesus Christ.

Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King says she has found an ancient papyrus fragment from the second century that, when translated, appears to indicate that Jesus was married.

The text from the New Testament is being dubbed “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” The part of it that’s drawing attention says, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife'” in the Coptic language. The text, which is printed on papyrus the size of a business card, has not been chemically tested to verify its dating, but King and other scholars have said they are confident it is a genuine artifact.

“Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim,” King said at a conference in Rome on Tuesday. “This new gospel doesn’t prove that Jesus was married, but it tells us that the whole question only came up as part of vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage. From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry, but it was over a century after Jesus’s death before they began appealing to Jesus’ marital status to support their positions.”

King, who focuses on Coptic literature, Gnosticism and women in the Bible, has published on the Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Mary of Magdala. She presented her research Tuesday evening in Rome, where scholars are gathered for the International Congress of Coptic Studies…


The fragment has eight incomplete lines of writing on one side and is badly damaged on the other side, with only three faded words and a few letters of ink that are visible, even with the use of infrared photography and computer-aided enhancement.

The private owner of the papyrus first approached King in 2010. King said she didn’t believe the document was authentic, but the owner persisted. She then asked the owner to bring the papyrus to Harvard, where she became convinced it was a genuine early Christian text fragment. Along with Princeton University professor Anne Marie Luijendijk and Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, King claims to have confirmed the document is real. The document’s owner has not been named and King said he does not want to be identified.

It’s unclear when the text was initially discovered

There is more here.

Watch as ignorant, dilettantish, sensationalist media mongers run riot with the above story and the unsubstantiated claims made in it over the next couple of days… And when you do, please remember it is an undated, incomplete, unprovenanced, fragmentary document that can be saying and meaning anything (most likely, that someone centuries after the time of Jesus was of the opinion that he may have been married). Archaeologically speaking, there is simply far too much being read into this not-so-new discovery. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the Coptic and Gnostic writings of that period are particularly notorious for being spurious and palpably fake.

Now all that said, Dr King is a fine scholar with a good reputation. Her forthcoming journal article for the Harvard Theological Review can be read here.

See also Bible Places:

The problem with today’s headline story is not the discovery of an ancient document that suggests that someone once believed that Jesus had a wife. There were many false and unbiblical teachings in ancient times, just as there are today. The problem is the media can very easily make a minor story into something sensational that appears to threaten historic Christianity…



Builder or Wrecker?

Builder or a Wrecker?

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a ho-heave-ho and lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
As the men you’d hire if you had to build?”
He gave me a laugh and said, “No indeed!
Just common labour is all I need.
I can easily wreck in a day or two

What builders have taken a year to do.”
And I tho’t to myself as I went my way,
Which of these two roles have I tried to play?
Am I a builder who works with care,
Measuring life by the rule and square?
Am I shaping my deeds by a well-made plan,
Patiently doing the best I can?
Or am I a wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labour of tearing down?
“O Lord let my life and my labours be
That which will build for eternity.”

~Author Unknown~


Eight South Africans Confirmed Dead in Kabul Attack

SABC news:

Eight South Africans died in a suicide bomb attack which killed 12 in Kabul in Afghanistan this morning, the foreign ministry said.

“Our mission in Islamabad in Pakistan, which is also accredited in Afghanistan, has informed us that eight South Africans were among the dead in the explosion which occurred in Kabul early this morning,” foreign affairs spokesman Nelson Kgwete told AFP.

“They worked for a private aviation company,” he added.

The group were all believed to be men, Kgwete said.

“Our mission in Islamabad is working on the identity of the men and contacting their next of kin.”

Tuesday’s attack by a woman suicide bomber was the deadliest single attack claimed to avenge a US film that has sparked a week of bloody protests across the Muslim world.

More than 30 people have now been killed in the violent backlash over a YouTube trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims”.

UPDATE:  The names of the South Africans killed in Kabul by a suicide bombing have been released here.



More Australian Ordinariate Ordinations

Psallite Sapienter has more news from Australia:

Praise the Lord: two more men to be ordained priests for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.  The Ordinariate’s official website states:

Your prayers are asked for Lyall Cowell and Antony Iball to be ordained priest, and for Stephen Hill to be ordained to the transitional diaconate, in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, on the evening of the Feast of St Luke, Thursday October 18th 2012.

The ordinations will be conducted by the Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, on behalf of the Very Reverend Harry Entwistle, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.

A quick check of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia’s directory reveals that Antony Iball is currently curate at the ACCA’s Patmos House Community in  Brisbane; I assume the others are also associated with the same – certainly a 2011 report lists Stephen Hill as “the youngest priest of the TAC” and also as a curate there.  There is a Padre Lyall Cowell listed as an Anglican Army chaplain… so he may come, not from the TAC, but from the Brisbane Anglican diocese.

Patmos House was for some time in the care of Bp David Chislett, prior to his leaving the ACCA a year or more ago.  Is the Patmos House Community of lay faithful to enter the Ordinariate en bloc?