No, That Ancient Manuscript Fragment Doesn’t Prove Jesus Was Married

Perhaps you’ve seen the flurry of chatter about an ancient piece of papyrus discovered by Harvard Divinity School historian Karen L. King in which the words “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…,'” appear very clearly, before the sentence is broken off. It was discovered in 2012, but it’s taken up till now for experts to confirm that the writing is pretty old—probably from sometime in the fourth century. But while you wouldn’t necessarily know it to read some headlines, experts don’t believe parchment amounts to much in terms of turning over any traditional beliefs about Jesus being married.

The third century Church’s conversation about marriage and celibacy was an ongoing one—several extra-canonical texts (such as the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Thomas) refer to Jesus’ marriage, and no one is arguing for the validity of those texts. In fact, they’ve been debunked for years. The manuscript is historically interesting, but provides nothing in terms of new information that should unsettle Christians …

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