I won’t believe it until I see the wedding album. Show me the video of the couple’s first (professionally choreographed) dance together. Where’s the picture of Mary looking pensive as she put finishing touches on her makeup in the the bride’s room? And the one of the groomsmen smoking in the parking lot?
And – I want to know – who did the premarital counseling?
The news this week that “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” a tiny, credit-card sized fragment of papyrus, which has Jesus calling a woman “my wife” and “able to be my disciple,” is not a modern day forgery has set the universe humming. Some scholars are still harrumphing about it and declaring it a fake, while others are accepting its authenticity but scrambling to explain away its importance.
But I think it’s fabulous! I heard an interview with Professor Karen King from Harvard Divinity School on Thursday on my way to the office. She said that, while the controversially-dubbed “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” doesn’t prove Jesus was married, it does shed light on early Christian thinking about women, marriage, sexuality, celibacy, etc. – in other words, issues that could turn some current church teachings on their heads.
So even though there’s no proof – no videos, wedding album, leftover cake – this is an important little piece of papyrus.
In fact, I don’t even care whether Jesus was married or not. We’ve made too much of that institution already as being “instituted by God.” I am totally in favor of all people having the right to marry – or not. So either way is OK by me for Jesus.
What does interest me is the hope that churches who denigrate the role of women in ministry, fuss about sexuality and elevate celibacy as the better lifestyle will have a change of heart. There will surely be a lot more scholarship to come on this little ancient tidbit. I eagerly await it and the opportunity to join in the discussion.
Nathan Gunn and Sasha Cooke in SF Opera’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene
Papyrus fragment with writing in Egyptian Coptic that includes the words, “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife…’”