A Harvard university professor has acquired an ancient paper containing Coptic texts that quotes Jesus Christ mentioning "my wife." Was Jesus Christ married?
The professor unveiled the ancient document before the attendees of the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies on Tuesday. Follow this link to see the translated texts.
The Coptic script is the new writing system that emerged from the Egyptian language when Greek alphabets were adapted. It was dominantly used from the 2nd to the 17th century.
Harvard Divinity School professor Karen L. King said someone approached her to look into an ancient document that he found in 1997. She initially doubted the authenticity of the material, but the person who spoke to her took the papyri to Harvard.
After collaborating with Princeton University professor Anne Marie Luijendijk and Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, Professor King later acknowledged the papyri to be real. However, she said the person who approached her does not want to be named.
The papyri had a handwritten German description with the name of a deceased professor of Egyptology in Berlin who called the material a "sole example" of ancient texts that imply Jesus was married, reports Huffington Post.
On a Harvard web page, Professor King noted Jesus speaks of his mother and once of his wife, and one of them is called "Mary." The disciples then discuss whether Mary is worthy. Jesus says in response, "She can be my disciple."
"The discovery of this new gospel," King said, "offers an occasion to rethink what we thought we knew by asking what role claims about Jesus' marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family. Christian tradition preserved only those voices that claimed Jesus never married. The Gospel of Jesus' Wife now shows that some Christians thought otherwise."
Speaking to Huffington Post, King shared one of the queries raised at the conference: Was it possible Jesus Christ was referring to the church itself as his wife?
"One cannot overrule that it might be him saying 'my wife as a church,' but in the context where he's talking about 'my mother' and 'my wife' and talking about 'my disciple,' the one thing you would not say is that the church would be 'my disciple,'" the professor said.
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