Was Jesus married?

BY Sam Lane  April 10, 2014 at 4:45 PM EST
Photo courtesy of Harvard Divinity School

Photo courtesy of Harvard Divinity School

A document that suggests Jesus may have been married is, in fact, authentic, according to an article by the Harvard professor who revealed the ancient papyrus last September. The existence of the papyrus was first announced at the International Coptic Congress in Rome.

The article, released online today by the Harvard Theological Review, explained that while “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” “concerns an early Christian debate over whether women who are wives and mothers can be disciples of Jesus,” it does not definitively say the historical Jesus was married.

The document was originally written in standard Sahidic. King’s translation, which caused a stir because of its fourth line, reads:

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

1                                        ]my moth[er
2                                        thr[ee
3                                        ]. . . [
4                                       ]forth . . . [
5–6                                   ](untranslatable) [

Critics have claimed that the document was forged in modern times, but King says the age of the papyrus has been scientifically proven and dates back to sometime between the seventh and eighth centuries. She and her colleagues write that fabrication is a possibility, but may not be so simple in practice.