Was Jesus married?

Have you read the article titled “Harvard scholar’s discovery suggests Jesus had a wife”?

In this article the scholar says that the partial manuscript (1.5 inches by 3 inches), which was written in the 4th century AD says, “Jesus said to them, my wife.”

This fits in perfectly with what I just preached last Sunday (listen to “Obstacles to fellowship” http://www.gracechurchseattle.org/media.php?pageID=5).

The problems with the article about the Harvard scholar’s discovery is 4-fold: (1) she says it appears to be from a gospel; (2) she says it was written between the second half of the 2nd century and the 4th century; (3) she says it was written by Christians; and (4) it contradicts what we know from credible sources.

I am not saying the discovery is not a real document, but what I am saying is the document was written by Gnostics who did not have authority to speak about the historical Jesus.  Let me explain:

(1)    The first point to debunk in the article about the Harvard scholar’s discovery is she claims the partial manuscript appears to be from a gospel.  The problem with this is there are only 4 gospels that were / are considered credible by a majority of Christian scholars and historians.

All 4 gospels found in the New Testament were written before the end of the 1st century by an Apostle or an “amanuensis” (a secretary or writer on behalf of an Apostle).  This means these Apostles knew, touched, walked with, and witnessed the life, preaching, and miracles of Jesus of Nazareth.

Rodney Stark mentioned in his book “The Triumph of Christianity” that the Apostles would have been taught from the beginning to memorize Jesus sermons and sayings.  He also points out that one or more of the Apostles would have kept notes.  The combination of memorizing, there being 12 Apostles and hundreds of disciples, plus one of the Apostles taking notes would have made it relatively easy to recount the stories, sermons, and sayings.  Plus, each of them witnessed the miracles and more than 500 people at one time say the resurrected Christ after he was raised (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).

My point is that the Apostles had authority to write about Jesus and they never mentioned that Jesus was married; this assertion comes 3 centuries later by Gnostics who did not believe many of the core Christian teachings.

In Church History (which is really Western History but the public school system and liberal scholarship has neutered history by re-writing it and by trying to demonize any truly Christian movement) the Christian scholars came together to finalize the “Canon of the New Testament.”  The word “Canon” means measurement.  The idea is there needed to be a measurement for what all churches would consider to be authoritative concerning Jesus’ life and teaching.  The “Canon” included 3 measurements: (1) the Scripture had to be written by an Apostle or his “amanuensis”; (2) the Scripture had to agree with theology in the Old and New Testament; and (3) the Scripture had to be in use as Authoritative Scripture by a majority of churches.

The question about the Harvard scholar’s discovery is does it measure up to the rules for being in the Canon? If not, then at best the “discovery” was written by an ignorant Christian who is flittering with heretical ideas; at worst the “discovery” is from a Gnostic gospel, which is heretical and not historically accurate pertaining to the life of Jesus.

(2)    My second point is the Harvard scholar says the partial manuscript was written between the second half of the 2nd century and the 4th century.

The problem with the dating is even the news articles point out in two different stories that she did not truly know when the fragment was written: (1) in the Yahoo news article she dates the manuscript fragment to the 4th century – but she needed help from other scholars to determine this; and (2) in the Fox news article she dates the fragment in the second half of the 2nd century because this is when other similar “gospels” such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip began to appear, which has similar theology.

So she at first dated the fragment to the end of the 2nd century because she thought the theology was similar to other Gnostic gospels written during that time, then she was corrected by other scholars and the fragment is given a date during the 4th century.  So at best, if it was from the second half of the 2nd century the author of the fragment was 3-7 generations removed from Jesus and never would have met Jesus or an Apostle or disciple of Jesus.  But it is most likely the author was about 300 years removed from the life of Christ and therefore had no authority based in history to claim Jesus had a wife.

To compare the two articles they are listed below:



The above argument leads to my third point…

(3)    She claims the partial manuscript was written by Christians.  The problem with this is Gnostics are not Christians.  She says, “…she dated the time it was written to the second half of the second century because it shows close connections to other newly discovered gospels written at that time, especially the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip.”

The Gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Philip were Gnostic.  Gnosticism taught that spirit is good and flesh is bad.  That the true God created the spirit realm and a renegade demiurge named Yahweh (Old Testament God) created the physical universe, which is evil.  They taught that a spirit named Jesus was sent from the true God and that he (Jesus) only appeared to be human but really he was just a spirit, like a ghost.  They taught Jesus only appeared to die, appeared to rise from the dead.  They taught Jesus gave secret “gnosis” (knowledge) to liberate you from this evil universe back to the spirit realm and the one true God.  The Gnostics were divided about how to live in this evil world and they developed multiple different philosophies, the two basic being: (1) live in extreme asceticism controlling your flesh and don’t get married; or (2) do whatever you want because all that matters is you are spiritual.  This, the Harvard scholar says, is the reason the Gnostic text is so important because supposedly the Gnostics who thought it was ok to get married were trying to establish that Jesus himself was married.

The main point above is these Gnostics were not Christian because: (1) they denied the Old Testament God was the one True God; (2) they denied Jesus came in the flesh; (3) they denied Jesus really died for your sins; (4) they were either legalistic or had no moral code; and (5) they rejected the writings of the Apostles.

At the end of the 1st century John the Apostle, who actually walked with Jesus, wrote the Gospel of John to give correct theology about the historical Jesus and he wrote 1, 2, and 3 John to combat Gnosticism.  In chapters 1-2 John states that the ones not in the truth are those who deny Jesus came in the flesh and who deny they are sinful and in need of Jesus to propitiate (die for) their sins to appease God and restore fellowship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son.

(4)    The final point is the Harvard professor’s discovery contradicts what we know from credible sources.  In other words, there is nothing from people who actually knew Jesus to suggest Jesus was married.

Whoever wrote the fragment did not have authority to speak about Jesus from an historical perspective.  We have already concluded that other scholars helped the Harvard professor to date the article to the 4th century, meaning whoever wrote the fragment never would have met Jesus.  So my question is why is this the first time a statement about Jesus being married is coming up? There were hundreds if not thousands of statements written about Jesus by this time; if he was married, then this would have been mentioned.

The fragment “discovered” by the Harvard professor should not be counted as authoritative concerning Jesus’ life and if He was married because: (1) the fragment is not from a credible Christian gospel; (2) the fragment is from the 4th century; (3) the author of the fragment was not Christian; and (4) there is no credible historical evidence Jesus was married.



2 thoughts on “Was Jesus married?

  1. Is it also possible that in this small fragment it was Jesus referring to the Church – often called His Bride? Just throwing another option out there, though I suppose the term ‘wife’ wouldn’t be applicable till sometime after Jesus’ second coming.

  2. Good analysis. It is frustrating how skeptical scholars routinely try to give the “alternative Christianities” idea credence by identifying Gnostic sects who tried to co-opt Jesus as “Christian.” The average person in the public is ignorant of this shell-game, since after all, Ph.D. and Harvard means science, but orthodox Christianity means outmoded and not for our times…

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