Karen King, professor of divinity at Harvard and specialist in Gnostic Christianity, recently announced the existence of a small (3” x 1.5”), late-4th century[1] fragment in which Jesus speaks of his wife. Written in Sahidic Coptic with black ink[2] on papyrus, the fragment contains eight lines of text on the recto and six lines of text on the verso, with all margins missing.[3]  The extant text on the recto side reads:

1  Not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe
2  The disciples said to Jesus
3  deny. Mary is worthy of it.[4]
4  Jesus said to them, “My wife
5  she will be able to be my disciple
6  Let wicked people swell up
7  As for me, I dwell with her in order to
8  an image[5]

Although the text bears some striking resemblance to known Gnostic texts (particularly the Gospel of Thomas[6], and to a lesser degree the Gospel of Philip), it does not match any known apocryphal or Gnostic gospel.  This may be an independent Gospel of unknown character (Gnostic, apocryphal, etc.) or, as Francis Watson has argued, it may be a modern forgery created using key words from the Coptic version of the Gospel of Thomas (more will be said concerning this momentarily).

We cannot even be certain that this is of the gospel genre. Nevertheless, it is being billed as the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife (GosJesWife).

Provenance

The provenance of the fragment is unknown.  The anonymous owner of the fragment claims he acquired it as part of a batch of papyri he purchased from a German collector, H. U. Laukamp, in 1997, but its history cannot be traced much beyond then.  Where Mr. Laukamp obtained it from is unknown.  It came with a handwritten note claiming that this is the only extant example in which Jesus speaks of his wife.[7]  The note is unsigned and undated, but another note found in the same collection is dated to 1982, making it possible that our fragment was discovered prior to 1982.

Authenticity

It was not until 2010 that the new owner contacted Professor King to translate the fragment.  King, a specialist in Coptic literature (but not a Coptic linguist) and a historian of early Christianity, worked with a small band of scholars earlier this year to examine the authenticity of the manuscript and translate the text prior to going public with the find.  While some raised questions about the text, no one declared it a forgery, and a few prominent scholars affirmed its authenticity. Coptic scholars who were present in Rome for the International Association for Coptic Studies conference where Karen King presented the manuscript, however, were not so sanguine about its authenticity.  Christian Askeland, who was present in Rome at the conference where Karen King presented the new fragment, writes:

My initial perception is that those who specialize in Nag Hammadi and early manuscripts are split with about four-fifths being extremely skeptical about the manuscript’s authenticity and one-fifth is fairly convinced that the fragment is a fake.  I have not met anyone who supports its authenticity, although I do not doubt that there must be some. … If I had to guess, I would have to say that this manuscript is a forgery.[8]

Here are some of the arguments being offered for both positions:

Pro

Why should we think this fragment is authentic?

  1. Papyrus bears the marks of age.  The papyrus itself bears the marks of damage from insects and moisture, which would be virtually impossible to replicate if someone was trying to make a new papyrus appear old.[9]  Papyrologists Roger Bagnall (director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York) and AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton) concluded that “the papyrus was very likely an authentic ancient text that could be dated on paleographical grounds to circa 4th c. C.E.”[10]

Of course, an ancient papyrus does not preclude the possibility that the text itself is ancient.  It could have been written in recent days on an ancient manuscript.  What can be said in favor of the text’s authenticity?

  1. Faded ink.  The ink on the verso side of the manuscript is badly faded, indicating a long aging process.  Since the script on the recto side appears to be identical to the script on the verso side, both must have been written long ago.
  2. Ink on frayed edges.  There are also traces of ink on the extant frays at the top of the verso side of the fragment, which suggests that this fragment was part of a larger document, but has since become detached.[11]
  3. Missing ink.  At the place where the first letter in line three appears, there are fibers missing from the papyrus due to damage.  Importantly, the missing fibers obscure the letter.  If the letter on this manuscript was only recently written, it would be visible even in the grooves where we are missing fibers.  Such is not the case.  We see a similar phenomenon in line 4 where letters are missing ink in places where the manuscript has been damaged (e.g. the horizontal bar in pi in PEXE).  If the text was written after the manuscript was damaged, these spaces would be filled in with ink.  The fact that they are not indicates that the text was written prior to the damage to the manuscript.[12]
  4. Language and grammar.  Ariel Shisha-Halevy, professor of linguistics at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and specialist in Coptic linguistics, affirms the authenticity of the writing based on linguistic and grammatical grounds: “I believe—on the basis of language and grammar—the text is authentic. That is to say, all its grammatical ‘noteworthy’ features, separately or conjointly do not warrant condemning it as forgery.”[13]

Con

Why should we think this fragment may be a modern forgery?

  1. Manuscript looks too fresh.  Tom Verenna writes, “First and foremost, the things that interests me about this is the ‘freshness’ of the manuscript.  It looks ‘clean’.”[14]
  2. Grammatical concerns.  Stephen Emmel, a specialist in Coptology at the University of Muenster, remarked that “there’s something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow.”[15]
  3. Script.  The letters are irregular in size and color, and rather thick.  They do not follow the formal, semi-formal, or documentary scripts.  They are messy and irregular.  Papyrologist Alin Suciu said “I would say it’s a forgery. The script doesn’t look authentic.”[16]  Michael Kruger writes:
    I am not an expert in Coptic palaeography (my work is in Greek manuscripts), but I had concerns about the initial appearance of the manuscript. In particular, the sloppy nature of the scribal hand, and the wide and undifferentiated strokes of the pen seemed problematic. In addition, the color of the ink seems off—it’s too dark, almost as if it were painted. Ancient inks tend to be lighter in color, though there are exceptions.[17]

Bagnall thinks the thickness of the letters is due to a blunt calamus (pen) with which the scribe was writing, and the blotchiness was due to the fact that the calamus was not holding the ink well.[18]  Christian Askeland, however, disagrees.  He notes that it is not difficult to sharpen a calamus, and thus there is no reason for any scribe, professional or not, to write such horrid letters.  As for the blotchiness of the writing, Askeland thinks it is because the writing material is not ink as is being supposed, but paint or marker.[19]  He even raises concerns about the way the letters are written:

[L]etter formation is not literary, semi-literary or documentary.  I note only the example of Epsilon which is two strokes (not three) and which does not conjoin.  Contra Bagnall, I have a hard time explaining the script via a dull calamus.  It is not that hard to sharpen a calamus.  This text was painted or markered. … What other manuscripts (esp. literary) actually look like this fragment?  It looks like a fake.[20]

Tom Verenna notes that some of the letters appear to have been layered as well: “Ink is another big concern.  The Coptic looks like it has been ‘layered’ on (for a lack of a better word).  As if someone went over the letters more than once to give it a blotched appearance that I’m not very familiar with.”[21]

  1. Not enough space between lines.  Tom Verenna writes:

Spacing.  There is no amount of real spacing between the lines of script.  It seems as if, to me, someone tried to fit a lot of information in a small amount of space.  But it has been my understanding that enough spaces were given between lines of script to allow for marginal or scribal notes to be added.[22]

I do not find this argument persuasive, as images of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas reveal similar spacing between lines. See http://www.metalog.org/files/th_scan.html for the photos.

  1. Evidence of plagiarism.  Francis Watson of Durham University makes a compelling case that the text is a forgery, having “been constructed out of small pieces – words or phrases – culled mostly from the Coptic Gospel of Thomas (GTh), Sayings 101 and 114, and set in new contexts. This is most probably the compositional procedure of a modern author who is not a native speaker of Coptic.” [23]

    Watson shows how line one of the GosJesWife borrows an entire phrase, word-for-word, from GTh 101 (underlined words in the GTh translation represent the words found in the GosJesWife):

    GosJesWife 1  Not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe
    GTh
    101  “Whoever does not hate his father and his mother as I do will not be able to be disciple to me. And whoever does not love his father and his mother as I do will not be able to be disciple to Me. For my mother gave me falsehood, but my true mother gave me life.”

Even more damning is the fact that the line breaks for line 1 in the GosJesWife are identical to the line breaks in the Coptic GTh.  They both begin and end with the same words and letters.[24] It is rare, even when copying manuscripts, that the line distributions of one manuscript will match that of another since the size of the manuscripts usually differ, as well as the writing style of the scribes.  It is quite astonishing, then, that a near-identical phrase from the Coptic GTh 101 appears in the GosJesWife 1 with the exact same line breaks.  In the Coptic GTh the word “NAEI” (to me) is broken up between lines 35 and 36 on page 97 of Codex II from the Nag Hammadi Library, with “EI” starting line 36.[25]  Strangely enough, line 1 of the GosJesWife begins with EI, and is followed by the next eight letters from the same line in the Coptic GTh.

Text from GosJesWife found in GTh at same location and with same line break

Portion of GTh 101 that appears in the beginning of the 1st line of the GosJesWife

Close-up of the text from GosJesWife found in GTh at same location and with same line break

Close-up of the portion of GTh 101 that appears in the beginning of the 1st line of the GosJesWife

Even more astonishing is the fact that the next and last 9 letters of line 1 are also the last 9 letters found on line 1 of page 98 of Codex II from the Nag Hammadi Library – differing only in a single letter[26] – which is a continuation of saying 101 from the Coptic GTh.

Text from GosJesWife found in GTh at same location (end of the line)

Close-up of the portion of GTh 101 that appears at the end of the 1st line of the GosJesWife

Portion of GTh 101 that appears at the end of the 1st line of the GosJesWife

These images of the Coptic GTh are available from http://www.metalog.org/files/th_scan.html
Line two of the GosJesWife appears in GTh 12, 18, and 20, using the same nomen sacrum[27] that is found in the GosJesWife.  Similarly, lines three and four are derived from GTh 114.

GosJesWife 3  deny. Mary is [not?] worthy of it.
4  Jesus said to them, “My wife
GTh 114  Simon Peter said to Him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.” Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The alleged forger simply moved the second word, “women” to after “Jesus said,” and changed it from plural to singular possessive.

The words for line 5 in the GosJesWife were also derived from GTh 101 (the words actually appear two times in GTh):

GosJesWife 5  she will be able to be my disciple
GTh 101  “Whoever does not hate his father and his mother as I do will not be able to be disciple to me. And whoever does not love his father and his mother as I do will not be able to be disciple to Me.”

Watson summarized the evidence as follows:

Six of the eight incomplete lines of GJW [Gospel of Jesus’s Wife] recto are so closely related to the Coptic GTh [Gospel of Thomas], especially to Sayings 101 and 114, as to make dependence virtually certain. A further line is derived from Matthew; just one is left unaccounted for. The author has used a “collage” or “patchwork” compositional technique, and this level of dependence on extant pieces of Coptic text is more plausibly attributed to a modern author, with limited facility in Coptic, than to an ancient one. Indeed, the GJW fragment may be designedly incomplete, its lacunae built into it from the outset. It does not seem possible to fill these lacunae with GTh material contiguous to the fragments cited. The impression of modernity is reinforced by the case in line 1 of dependence on the line-division of the one surviving Coptic manuscript, easily accessible in modern printed editions. Unless this impression of modernity is countered by further investigations and fresh considerations, it seems unlikely that GJW will establish itself as a “genuine” product of early gospel writing. [28]

  1. Same mistake, different paper.  The only difference between GTh 101 and the ending of GosJesWife 1 is the absence of the preposition m-plus-supralinear-stroke which comes after naei (“to me”) and before ponh (“life”).  See the comparison between the three texts below:

    Coptic GTh: End of Saying 101. Red boxes indicate parallels to the end of GosJesWife 1. Notice the m-plus-supralinear-stroke sandwiched in between the boxed letters

    GosJesWife 1: Red triangle is pointing to the location of the missing m-plus-supralinear-stroke

    Grodin’s Interlinear: End of GTh 101 also missing the m-plus-supralinear-stroke before “life”

    Andrew Bernhard has argued that the peculiar absence of this expected preposition may be further evidence of forgery, and provide us insight as to how the forger created his/her text.  The lone Coptic manuscript of the GTh contains the preposition, but interestingly, the PDF version of Grodin’s Interlinear Coptic/English Translation of The Gospel of Thomas does not.  Grodin’s Interlinear contains a typo precisely at this point in the text, accidentally omitting the m-plus-supralinear-stroke that appears in the Coptic GTh.  Could it be that the text for line 1 of the GosJesWife was copied from Grodin’s Interlinear?  If our forger was not well-versed in Coptic, we would naturally expect for him/her to consult an interlinear text to decipher the meaning of the words in Coptic GTh in order to accurately select the patchwork of words and phrases from the GTh to be used in the forged text (and Grodin’s Interlinear is easily accessible on the web at http://gospel-thomas.net/gtbypage_112702.pdf).  It would only be natural to also use the interlinear as one’s textual basis as well.  Bernhard notes that “although the omission…is not necessarily a grammatical error, it still might be considered evidence that a forger was dependent on a modern text.”[1]  If so, given the fact that Grodin’s Interlinear was not available until 1997, the GosJesWife would have been created after 1997 (assuming it is a forgery).

  1. Authority.  Other Coptic scholars who question its authenticity include Stephen Emmel of the University of Münster, Wolf-Peter Funk of l’Université Laval in Quebec, David Gill of the University of Suffolk, Scott Carroll of the Oxford Manuscript Research Group, and Hany Sadak of the Coptic Museum in Cairo.  While counting heads does not determine truth, often times it is a good indicator of the truth.

It should be noted that most of the scholars who have raised doubts about the authenticity of the text have not been able to examine the text in-person.  They are relying on photographs.  It will take more time for the scholarly community to examine the manuscript to determine its authenticity, but if the current climate in the scholarly community does not change, the text will likely be declared a modern-day forgery.  If it is ultimately determined to be authentic, it would be the only example in all early Christian literature –orthodox, heterodox, apocryphal, and Gnostic – in which Jesus is depicted as having a wife. 

So who is the mystery blonde?

While the text speaks of Jesus’ wife, who exactly is she?  Given the fragmentary nature of the text, we cannot be certain. There is a reference to a “Mary” in line three.  Could this be the name of Jesus’ wife? Could it be a reference to Mary Magdalene?  Will Dan Brown’s historical fantasies finally be vindicated with a real-life manuscript?  Possibly, but given the fact that line one speaks of Jesus’ mother, “Mary” may be referring to her, not Jesus’ wife.[29]  While a good case can be made that “Mary” probably refers to Jesus’ wife rather than his mother, we cannot be certain either way.[30] Additional context is necessary to settle the question.[31]

Significance

As fascinating as this text is, does it really tell us anything valuable about the historical Jesus?  Is there good reason to think this manuscript is providing us with accurate information about Jesus’ marital status?  No.  This is the only extant manuscript we have which speaks of Jesus having a wife, and it is of late provenance.  There is no reason to give deference to a text that was written some 200-300 years after the canonical gospels, was not based on eyewitness testimony, and likely derived its information from Gnostic gospels such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip.  Whoever wrote this unknown gospel was not a disciple of Jesus, and was as far removed from the historical Jesus as we are from the United States’ declaration of independence from Britain.  In the same way we would not give deference to the report of someone living in our own day that George Washington was a polygamist, we should not give deference to the claims of this late manuscript over the portrait of Jesus presented in the canonical gospels.  The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife is an inferior source for information about the historical Jesus.  Even King herself makes it clear that the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife should not be understood to provide us with historical information regarding Jesus:

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. (p1)

The aim of this analysis is not to reconstruct the historical Jesus, that is, to argue whether the historical Jesus had a wife or was celibate. The material discussed below provides no reliable historical information for that discussion. Nor do I argue that historically there is any evidence that if Jesus was married, it was to Mary Magdalene. She appears in the most reliable historical information as a prominent disciple of Jesus. Rather, the importance of the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife lies in supplying a new voice within the diverse chorus of early Christian traditions about Jesus that documents that some Christians depicted Jesus as married. (p22)

Does this fragment constitute evidence that Jesus was married? In our opinion, the late date of the Coptic papyrus (c. fourth century), and even of the possible date of composition in the second half of the second century, argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus. The earliest and most historically reliable Christian literature is utterly silent on the issue, making the question impossible to answer one way or the other. (p 47)[32]

What if Jesus was married?

Would it matter if Jesus had been married?  No.  The issue of Jesus’ marital status is a matter of historical significance, not theological significance.  No doctrine of Christianity would be affected if we discovered that Jesus was married.

But if Jesus was married, wouldn’t that mean He would have had sex?  Yes.  So what?!  He also ate food and relieved himself daily.  These are the kinds of activities human beings engage in.  There is no reason to think that the God who created marriage and sex could not get married and engage in sex upon becoming human.

But wouldn’t His engagement in the act of sex make it possible for Jesus to produce children?  Yes.  Again, so what?!  Many people find this problematic because they think any offspring of Jesus would be divine, or semi-divine.  Not at all.  Jesus’ physical body, including His DNA, was not divine; only His person was divine.  Since one’s person is not transmitted to one’s progeny, if Jesus had children they would have been no different than any other human children.

Why think Jesus was single?

Throughout this article I have been presuming that Jesus was not married, as have most other Christians throughout church history.  Why?  It’s because our earliest and best sources regarding the life of Jesus strongly imply this:

  1. When the Bible speaks of Jesus’ family, it mentions his mother, brothers, and sisters, but never a wife.
  2. While the Bible speaks of various women being present at Jesus’ crucifixion – including Jesus’ mother – no mention is made of His wife.  While on the cross, Jesus charged the beloved disciple with taking care of His mother (John 19:26-27).  The absence of a similar charge concerning His wife would be quite strange if Jesus had been married.
  3. When Paul argued that he had a right to take a wife, he cited Peter and the Lord’s brothers as examples of married ministers (1 Corinthians 9:4-6).  If Jesus was married, why not appeal to the example of Jesus Himself rather than to the example of Jesus’ brothers?  Appealing to a married Jesus would only strengthen Paul’s argument.  The most likely reason Paul appealed to Jesus’ brothers rather than Jesus Himself is because He couldn’t appeal to Jesus because Jesus never married.[33]

Conclusion

Many questions remain concerning the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, including its provenance, date of composition, theology, and authenticity.  Even if it turns out to be an authentic text from the 4th century, the fact remains that it is of little, or no historical value.  It may give us a glimpse into the views of a small “Christian” sect that existed hundreds of years after Jesus’ death, but it is much too late to provide us with accurate information about the historical Jesus.  Our earliest and best sources concerning the life of Jesus imply that He was unmarried.  Unless and until other evidence arises to the contrary, the conclusion most warranted by our extant sources is that Jesus was single, not married.

For further reading see:


[1]The dating of Coptic manuscripts is a difficult matter. The dating of the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife is based, in part, on the dating assigned to other speculatively dated Coptic texts.  King even admits that “these [other] manuscripts are, however, more elegantly written and none of them has the very thick strokes that characterize our hand. Compared to the documentary hand of SB Kopt III 1310 (P.Lond. inv. 2724), a letter dated ca. 330-340, the letters in our papyrus are more upright and separate; in the documentary letter they are connected and slope.”  See page 9 of Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel”; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

The Coptic language emerged in the third century AD, giving us a lower bound for the dating.  Papyrus ceased to be used as a writing material in the seventh century AD, providing us with an upper bound for the dating.  The date of the manuscript could fall anytime in between See Christian Askeland, “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”; available from http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/gospel-of-jesuss-wife.html; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[2]It is presently presumed to be ink, but some have questioned whether it is paint or marker used by a forger. A chemical analysis is presently being sought to confirm the type of substance used to create the text.

[3]“Recto” refers to the side of the papyrus in which the fibers are running horizontally (usually the front of the document), whereas “verso” refers to the side of the papyrus in which the fibers are running vertically (usually the back of the document).  The text on the verso is badly faded. Only a few words can be discerned: “my mother,” “three,” “forth which.”

[4]Alternatively, it may read “Mary is n[ot] worthy of it.”

[5]See Laurie Goodstein, “A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife”, The New York Times, 18 September 2012; available from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/us/historian-says-piece-of-papyrus-refers-to-jesus-wife.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3; Internet; accessed 18 September 2012.

[6]Thomas 101 resembles line 1, and Thomas 114 resembles line 3 of the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife. See April DeConick, “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”; available from http://forbiddengospels.blogspot.com/2012/09/gospel-of-jesus-wife.html; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[7]See Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel”; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[8]Christian Askeland, “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”; available from http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/gospel-of-jesuss-wife.html; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[9]These are the words of Karen King, not Bagnall and Luijendijk.  See page 11 in Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel”; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[10]Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel,” page 3; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[11]Of course, it’s possible that a forger placed some ink on the frays to give it the appearance of being part of a once-larger manuscript.

[12]See pages 11-12 in Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel”; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[13]From an email communication between Karen King and Professor Shisha-Halevy on September 7, 2012. See page 4 of Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel” for a discussion of the identity of Mary in this gospel. Available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[14]Tom Verenna, “The ‘Wife of Jesus’ Fragment a Day Later: Some Concerns About Authenticity”; available from http://tomverenna.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/the-wife-of-jesus-fragment-a-day-later-some-concerns-about-authenticity/#comment-3208; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[15]Nicole Winfield, “Doubts over Harvard claim of ‘Jesus’ Wife papyrus”; available from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/harvard-claim-jesus-wife-papyrus-scrutinized; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[16]Nicole Winfield, “Doubts over Harvard claim of ‘Jesus’ Wife papyrus”; available from http://bigstory.ap.org/article/harvard-claim-jesus-wife-papyrus-scrutinized; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[17]Michael Kruger, “The Far Less Sensational Truth about Jesus’ ‘Wife’”; available from http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/19/the-far-less-sensational-truth-about-jesus-wife/; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[18]See page 7 in Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel”; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[19]Christian Askeland, “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”; available from http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/gospel-of-jesuss-wife.html; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[20]Christian Askeland, “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”; available from http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/gospel-of-jesuss-wife.html; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[21]Tom Verenna, “The ‘Wife of Jesus’ Fragment a Day Later: Some Concerns About Authenticity”; available from http://tomverenna.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/the-wife-of-jesus-fragment-a-day-later-some-concerns-about-authenticity/#comment-3208; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[22]Tom Verenna, “The ‘Wife of Jesus’ Fragment a Day Later: Some Concerns About Authenticity”; available from http://tomverenna.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/the-wife-of-jesus-fragment-a-day-later-some-concerns-about-authenticity/#comment-3208; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[23]Francis Watson, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a fake Gospel-Fragment was composed”; available from http://markgoodacre.org/Watson.pdf; Internet; accessed 21 September 2012.

[24]The last two letters are cut off in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, however. Only part of the second-to-last letter remains, but this is enough to reliably construct the letters.

[25]The manuscript of Coptic GTh is damaged in portions of lines 32-36, so the “NA” is not visible at the end of line 35, but has been reconstructed from the context.

[26]The Coptic GTh has a mu in the eighth position whereas the GosJesWife has a pi.

[27]A nomen sacrum is an abbreviation for sacred names commonly found in early Christian manuscripts. Words such as “Jesus,” “Son,” Christ,” etc. were abbreviated by writing the first and last letter of the word, with a horizontal bar written above the letters.

[28]Francis Watson, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a fake Gospel-Fragment was composed”; available from http://markgoodacre.org/Watson.pdf; Internet; accessed 21 September 2012.

[29]Ironically, many of the news reports are simply assuming that “Mary” refers to the name of Jesus’ wife, and even go one step further by speaking of her as Mary Magdalene despite the fact that King herself makes it clear that this is an open question.

[30]See pages 27-32 of Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel” for a discussion of the identity of Mary in this gospel. Available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[31]The shape of this fragment suggests that it was torn, possibly by the person who discovered it, or by an antiquities dealer who purchased it, to increase the number of artifacts for sale, thereby increasing his profits. If so, then perhaps other collectors will come forward with other pieces to this papyrus, and the puzzle can be put back together again.  It is also possible that the manuscript was purposely torn so as to remove bits of context that would present a different picture than the one we are left with currently.

[32]Karen King, “‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’”: A New Coptic Gospel”; available from http://news.hds.harvard.edu/files/King_JesusSaidToThem_draft_0917.pdf; Internet; accessed 19 September 2012.

[33]One may counter, “Why didn’t Paul invoke the life of Jesus as an example for remaining single when he was advocating for singleness in the same chapter?”  This is a good question.  Perhaps Paul did not note the example of Jesus lest it be taken as an imperative to mimic Christ’s example.  After all, Paul was not arguing that one must remain single, but only that it was spiritually and practically beneficial, and thus advisable given their present circumstances.

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