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He had a wife, you know

Well, this changes everything. Biblical scholars recently received a piece of 4th century papyrus from Egypt where Jesus says he had a wife and she was to be his disciple. There’s only one person he could be referring to here, Mary Magdalene. We know this because similar lines have been found in earlier texts, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary and refer to Mary Magdalene who Jesus was said to kiss on the lips.

It’s probably true (but not all the Dan Brown crap). Yes, those texts are gnostic and were purged at about the time the Roman empire decided to go Chrisitan. How convenient. The Roman priesthood, all male, probably didn’t want to have to give up good positions of power and influence to some upstart Coptic women claiming discipleship.

History is frequently written by the winners and women didn’t have a prayer, no pun intended, of becoming leaders in the church once the manly-man’s empire got involved. So, better burn the evidence. But I have always wondered what lurks in the vaults of the Vatican library. Did they get rid of everything? And if the earlier versions of the texts show up that are roughly contemporaneous with the canonical gospels, how will that change the Catholic Church, which seems to founded on male exclusivity nd “no smelly girls at the altar”? What will it mean to the Nuns on the Bus and that womens leadership conference that has been told to shut up and stick to the teachings of the catholic church?

I have to say one thing, it sure gives me a new found respect for Jesus, who was one awesome Occupier and a man ahead of his time.

But can’t you just imagine what’s going on at the Vatican tonight?

Papal Secretary: Your Holiness, sorry to interrupt you but have you seen this news article about the scrap of papyrus that says Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife and one of his disciples?

Pope: What? Let me see that. Where did you find that?

P. Sec: On the Internet, your holiness. You should check your Facebook page.

Pope: Jesus!

P. Sec: Sister Pat, that nun who’s been a pain in your cassock for the past couple of months says she would like to dialog with you about opening a seminary for women seeking to take their vows of priesthood.

Pope: Oh, God!

P. Sec: Well, to be honest, your holiness, isn’t this just the ticket? You can ditch those NAMBLA members and sign on some of these women. They’ll work for peanuts and we can get back on the road to fiscal sanity in some of these parishes.

Pope: But they’re going to want to have a seat at the table. We’ll have to build new bathrooms. They’re going to want to mess with the decorating and the uniforms. Can’t we get the PR department on this?

P. Sec: It’s too late, your holiness. The nuns are already redlining the mass. “Consubstantial” has been stricken. They said it sounds esoteric and pompous. And they want a total rewrite of the Apostle’s Creed. In general, they said we should dial it back on the virginity thing.

Pope: Holy Mother of God.

P. Sec: No, wife. But I think you’re getting the picture. By the way, the guys and I have gotten together on this and, well, you know, we like to know when we can start dating. Take your time, but not too much time. We’re not getting any younger.

37 Responses

  1. Speaking only for myself, I’m cool with the idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being spouses. It wouldn’t threaten my faith if it were proven true.

    • I knew you’d say that. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      But you should see all of the comments on that nytimes thread from people who are totally freaking out. The thing is, there are plenty of texts dating for the late 1st and second century that put Mary magdalene front and center as one of Jesus’ most important disciple. He says that he will make her male, sticks up for her when Peter gets on her case, has extended dialogs with her. In more than one gospel, she is called his partner, companion, he kisses her. The other apostles ask ‘why do you love her more??’, like little kids. She’s the one who shows up for the crucifixion with Mary, Jesus’ mother, when the others have fled. I can’t think of why the Romans would let her hang around except that she was a family member.
      Back then, a woman couldn’t go traipsing around the countryside without a chaperone. The evidence keeps pointing to a very special relationship between Jesus and mary magdalene. If they were married, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
      She had a following after the crucifixion. Some of her followers became Gnostics. The church purged the gnostic teachings right out of the new testament. It was a man’s world and we’ve been living with the fallout ever since.
      Well, if gallileo’s case is any indication, it wont be until 2400 AD before the church gives in and admits it may have been reading things a little too narrowly.

      • Pardon me for nagging, but Spammy ate one of my comments on the “Why Christians Should Occupy” thread. I did include two links; I seem to recall from way back that Spammy gets cranky about that. ๐Ÿ™„

    • it could be a fraud or all true or it could be about another woman…..I wonder if we will ever know or even have a consensus. Doesn’t make a bit of difference to me either. But then I am not catholic. I would love to see women ordained in the Catholic church. I would just get such a kick out of the hysterics that would cause…..along with being really happy for the women.

      • I know, right? Just the thought of the women telling them men to shove their doctrines gives me a warm fuzzy.

  2. Wow amazing how you just got up and ran with that. It’s like you had the theory already worked out. Amazing.

    • “Great Krypton! The Time Trapper has regressed Cousin Kara to toddlerhood!” :mrgreen:

    • Maybe amazing to you but I learned about the gnostic gospels in one of my philosophy courses at Pitt back around 1980 shortly after they were published. I’ve read the gospel of Thomas and the Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels as well as various biblical scholars books on the new testament. I just think the early Christianity timelines and flavors are interesting because from them we can see how a movement grows, spreads, changes and is taken over. So, if you knew your new testament history, both from the canonical side and the gnostic side, this wouldn’t seem so strange. Mar magdalene represents the suppressed half of Christianity. She also happens to be a woman. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

      • I know a good amount actually, which is why I find the argument a bit silly. Especially when one considers Gnosticism was a much later offshoot of Christianity. So it isn’t strange at all that a piece of papyrus related to Gnostic beliefs would reveal Gnostic beliefs. Nothing “was taken over.” Gnosticism was not part of the Nicene debate or early Christianity for that matter. That involved, but was not limited to, Arianism and the disagreements on the finer points of the faith.

        Gnosticism (at least as we understand it) came centuries later. It had no influence upon Christianity because Christianity had been firmly established in the 1st Century. So there is no suppressed or oppressed camps. What we learn from the 1st and 2nd centuries is the efforts from the early church to confront false teachings. That isn’t surprising or even unique.

        All early writing from the New Testament show remarkable uniformity. It’s the most historically attested book of all antiquity. More fragments and sources of the New Testament in Greek alone, surpasses all other earlier writings, to include Homer to name one.

        • On the contrary, some gnostic texts predate the canonical gospels. The word “gnostic” has been applied perjoritavely but simply represents a part of early Christianity that has more of a Greek flavor, that knowledge of the divine is within and must be brought forth to save you.
          While it is true that the canonicalizatio of the new testament started under bishop ireneus in the third century, the council of nicea certainly had an opportunity to revist the gnostic texts. According to this article, the papyrus dates to the fourth century but is based on an older text dating from the second century. That indicates that the Gnostics were still active and relevent. But like many political episodes, if you turn down the volume on people you don’t want to address, it’s like they don’t exist.
          As you point out, there were other forms of Christianity that the council of nicea had to deal with including those who did not believe in the divinity of Christ and those who believed in christ’s dual nature. If you are just about to become the empires official religion, you can see why the divinity issue took precedence.
          But that doesn’t mean the Gnostics went away. They were suppressed. Sometimes violently, which is why some of their writiings ended up in clay jars and buried in the desert.

        • Btw, have you actually read the new testament synopticslly? There’s actually very little consistency across all four books because they were written for different audiences. And you can see how the miracles got more fantastic and the dialog more embellished as time went on (mark is the earliest, followed by matthew written for a Jewish audience, Luke written for the Gentiles and John, written for the people who wanted a divine Jesus) They are chock full of contradictions. Thomas Jefferson took a pair of scissors to his new testament and cut out all the parts that Jesus didn’t say or do. The Jesus seminar does the same thing and they say that only 18-20% of the new testament is stuff Jesus did or said and much of that can be found in the sayings of Jesus, another gnostic text that predates any of the other gospels in the new testament. Paul’s writings are the earliest and some of Ho’s texts weren’t written by him or are heavily edited. That’s why Paul turns out to be a pretty good guy but the person who wrote some of the other texts under his name give him a bad reputation,
          Anyway, I highly recommend the PBS frontline series From Jesus to Christ for a more in depth historical perspective of the life of Jesus and the gospels.

          • I don’t see a lack of harmony in the gospels. I see, as you correctly summarized, four authors, with distinct outlooks and motives, writing to a particular audience. To me, that shows a lack of collusion, which I would find far more troubling. The essentials are there. There is remarkable harmony across the four, when you consider the mission and reason of all four. Contradictions is a strong word. Where do you see a few?

            I do admit, I must say this, that John is a bit advanced, mature, or higher-theology. I think it does come after, perhaps decades after the other three because of this theologic maturity. John has been a challenge for me.

            While very smart, Thomas Jefferson was still a man entitled to his beliefs. The Jesus Seminar guys are not taken very seriously even among liberal/skeptic theologians. They are radical and have been accused, caught rather, of very sloppy and biases research.

            Thanks for the recommendation. I have a ton of books and authors down in my study. If you are still game, maybe I’ll shoot you a few quotes followed with some sources.

            Peace and good night.

          • There are some significant contradictions in the Gospels that don’t concern me because I don’t think the Bible is inerrant. For those who do believe that it’s inerrant, those contradictions should give them pause. The fact that it doesn’t is a true testament to the power of denial.

            I’m a fairly liberal Christian and I think that most of the Jesus Seminar guys should stop calling themselves Christians. To believe or not is our choice but to call oneself a Christian while denying Christ’s divinity is akin to staying too long at the party.

          • The series of events in the gospels are consistent in Mark, Matthew and Luke but the details are different and as the story goes on with each successive writer, these details are more pronounced. Also, it becomes obvious that there is an attempt to make Jesus’ life fit a previous prophecy, specifically the one in Isaiah. The birth stories in both Matthew and Luke are complete fabrications, they don’t agree with each other. But it is in the death stories where we see the most fictionalization. Here’s a video on the historical jesus where some of these differences are explored:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_dOhg-Fpu0&feature=relmfu. It’s from Yale.
            The Jesus Seminar, far from being considered a crock, consists of many liberal biblical scholars as well as literalists. But if you mean to denigrate their scholarship because it conflicts with your own personal conviction then it seems to me that you aren’t really interested in learning anything that might pop your bubble. In other words, your faith can’t handle the truth.
            Thomas Jefferson *was* a man. Indeed, he leaned on his own understanding. I like that about him. I don’t like people who are smug and scoff at people who use their heads. It’s pretty stupid to have a brain, rational thought and free will and then deliberately ignore those features in order to be a dumb animal who accepts biblical texts without question.
            It’s pretty clear that you are a Christian who is a believer and that faith is important to you. It is not important to me. I like Jesus the man and social revolutionary but do not believe in his divinity and there is no way you can make me believe it. There is no amount of persuasion you can use to do it. Trust me on this. I have family members who have tried every trick in the book to do it and they have failed miserably. I believe in evidence, not faith. So, I have no desire to argue with you about it.
            BTW, I completely disagree with JeanLouise who asserts that if you don’t believe in Jesus’ divinity, you aren’t really a Christian. The early Christians were divided on the divinity of Christ and split into factions over it. But it doesn’t really matter. If the Jesus seminarians want to refer to themselves as Christians, that is their right. There are probably more than a few of them who would prefer to refer to themselves as followers of Jesus or The Way. That is also their right. It’s not up to you to decide for them what is the right way. That’s what fundamentalists and evangelicals do and the rest of us find it very disrespectful.
            As for John being a higher theology, it’s utter bullshit. John was intent on deifying Jesus. There are stories in John that appear nowhere else. John had an agenda. And frankly, that whole “dying for our sins” thing never did make much sense. It’s hard to believe that so many people accept it unquestioningly and that a whole theology has evolved around it. You can talk about it til you’re blue in the face and it will still not make any sense.

  3. […] ancient source that some will use to convince the world Jesus was married. It is an ancient source associated with gnosticism, an […]

  4. RD, I think ya got a live one here. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

    • Kind of weird for me to be arguing theology since I’m agnostic at best and don’t believe in most of the Christian story.

      • Theology becomes more interesting it seems the more UN-theist one becomes. Hail the Bible Geek!

  5. It makes more sense to me that Jesus was married because marriage is very strong in Judaism. I’m not one to believe that Jesus was special because of his birth. His teachings changed the world, not the miracles or his mythical birth.

  6. […] Wife Posted at 9:15 on September 18, 2012 by Jason Bradley   Another ancient source that some will use to convince the world Jesus was married. It is an ancient source associated with gnosticism, an […]

  7. RD, I’m not sure what her reasoning was but the historian who revealed this piece of writing specifically said that she didn’t think that the “wife” referred to was Mary Magdalene.

    • I think you need to go back and reread that article. There is no other candidate. It has to be Mary Magdalene. What the scholar seems to be saying is that this is not conclusive evidence of anything.
      But it’s your reluctance to accept the idea that I find puzzling. What if it turns out to be true? Then you will have to reconfigure everything you knew about Jesus. The whole church apparatus in Rome would have to. Don’t be surprised if you find out someday that the Vatican has more early texts that say the same thing and that they’ve been sitting on them for 2000 years.
      The truth will out. Archaeology is turning up new evidence all of the time. The reason there has been such an explosion of new atheism is because the evidence is becoming overwhelming that the bible, especially the old testament, was NOT inspired by a deity. There is only a small amount of the new testament that is valid too. And when students go to seminary, they are exposed to all of this information these days. More and more of them stop believing and decide not to become pastors because they don’t like to lie to people.
      So, what does this mean? It means that if the papyrus is not the only one and if its source can be traced back to Jesus direct followers, then the whole reason for excluding women from the priesthood will look like a lie perpetrated by a coterie of males who wanted to keep women in their place. And we would all know it. There wouldn’t be anywhere the church could hide. And that would mean that women could stop crawling and bowing and crying “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”
      Sister Pat could tell the male bishops who are planning to take over her organization to kiss off. Contraception could be framed as a question, “What would Mary Magdalene do?”. The possibilities are endless.
      THAT is a good thing. If it means Christianity has to adapt, so be it.

      • I reckon Christianity will adapt just fine; it’s been doing so for roughly 2000 years now. :mrgreen:

        Besides, all religious authorities need to do is to state that religious truths are metaphors reflecting another level of reality, rather than literal factual statements about things and events in the material universe, et voila, immunity. Archaeological discoveries become simply interesting facts. Of course, that approach may be closed off for fundamentalists, since fundamentalist sects insist on literal interpretations.

        • Actually, it hasn’t been adapting all that well. The biggest shock to its system was the Reformation but the truly problematic parts of the doctrine are still with us and so far have stubbornly refused to evolve even though Jesus himself didn’t have much to say on the matter and seemed to be totally onboard with equality.
          I think we’ve been over this territory before but before the internet, you needed to had to be a very courageous and bold to buck the fundamentalist enclave you were born into. Same for any sufficiently devout religious community, like catholicism. But these days, when access to information has a very low barrier, it is much easier to see that the basis upon which fundamentalism and religion in general is based is very shaky. If you were brought up fundy in the 70’s, you had to go with your reasoning ability and gut instinct to tell you that it was rotten to the core. Now, all you need to do is google to find out what eschatology is all about and what Jesus really thought of abortion (for the record, we don’t know because he never brought it up. But you can bet that if it were important to your salvation, he would have mentioned it)
          Archeological evidence is not merely interesting facts. It is piecing together a worldview of the earliest believers of the Judeo-Christian tradition. We can see what they were thinking and why they were thinking it and what actually happened and what didn’t. Like the flood and noah’s ark and exodus and the resurrection and the virgin birth. So, archeology and the internet are making new agnostics and atheists and freethinkers everyday, yay, verily, even among the fundamentalist kids.

          • If things happen as you say, then once the churches realize they are losing people because of rigid doctrines and authoritarianism, I would guess that they will adapt and become more flexible, less authoritarian. Humans are an adaptable species, and so their institutions can be adapted as well. Christianity didn’t survive roughly 2000 years by failing to adapt to new conditions.

            Also, because of social pressures ranging up to plain brute force, many people in the past who were not basically pious went through the motions of religiosity in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. Well and good that those pressures are fading away, since it is simply evil to force people to pretend to be what they are not. The churches may simply be reverting to their actual natural sizes–the sizes they always would have been, if not for authoritarian pressures on individuals to pretend to be religious, even if they were not.

            There was a great age of skepticism in this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Freethinkers of that era predicted the decline of religion with similar levels of confidence to the one your post displays. Maybe those predictions will materialize this time, but maybe this country simply goes through periods of religiosity and periods of skepticism, and we are simply entering one of the latter, due largely to overreach by obnoxious religious authoritarians. I doubt either of us will live long enough to see a final answer.

            As indeed we have discussed before, I lack your faith in the all-conquering might of the Net. It will indeed help people who lean toward non-religiosity to find support for their views, but I rather doubt a religion that survived the hostility of the Roman Empire, centuries of its own corruption and internal wars–oh, and let’s not forget the Black Death–and the hostility of the Communist states, and the two World Wars, and which persists, even grows, in the face of persecution even today in some countries, will fall at last before the invincible power of–a collection of networked gadgets whose primary actual function is the transmission of lolcat pix and p0rn. ๐Ÿ˜›

            NSFW ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

          • Well, I don’t know what went wrong here, but I was TRYING to post Avenue Q’s “The Internet Is For Porn”.

            By Haruhi, the idiots running YouTube have ruined it lately. ๐Ÿ˜ก

          • I don’t need faith that the net will help speed the turnover from religion to non-belief. It’s in the census numbers.
            I suppose there will always be a percentage of people who will hang on to god for dear life but it’s going to decline quite rapidly in the next couple of decades. it’s not only that the information about religion is out there. It’s also the fact that more people who thought they were the only ones in their communities who were atheists have greater opportunity to meet with others like them online. There is safety in numbers. there will be more reason rallies, more atheists coming out, more communities of non-believers volunteering and running their own summer camps for kids (this is already happening). You won’t be able to stop it. Millions of people will suddenly start popping out of the woodwork, running for public office, leaving the pulpit, produce their own movies and tv shows. They will be everywhere. It will be unstoppable.
            Get used to it.

          • As always, I would remind you that many of the metaphysical skeptics of the last great age of metaphysical skepticism in the USA–the late 19th and early 20th Century period–thought their period represented a permanent change in human behavior. Instead, it merely proved to be another turn in the cycle between periods of belief and periods of skepticism.

            Heat of the moment–whoops, wrong Asia song title. ๐Ÿ˜•

            Only time will tell. :mrgreen:

          • I failed to mention that you seem to be assuming, in your mention of census numbers, that once someone leaves a religion, s/he will never return to it, nor embrace any other religion.

            At one time in my life (roughly ages 15-24) I would have fit into your worldview, for I went through an agnostic period.

            I went back. Maybe some others will go back to their old faiths, or else realize that they simply wanted a gentler religion, and will find one or another which fits their needs.

            I realize you know better on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level, you seem to operate on the assumption that there are only two choices: authoritarian, mean-spirited religion or hardcore skepticism.

            I’m entering a busy period and may not be able to answer for a while. Ciao for nao.

  8. Sec: Sister Pat, that nun whoโ€™s been a pain in your cassock for the past couple of months

    Actually, she’s been a pain in the apse.

  9. I wish Spammy were alive, so I could kill it. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

    Why in sulfuric HELL does it keep rejecting my posts on the “Why Christians Should Occupy” thread ?!?

  10. teehee, your title makes me think of my favorite christian movie, life of brian–he has a wife, you know. her name is incontinentia. incontinentia buttocks.

  11. I would like to watch that movie someday, if I can ever find it and find the time–I have Monty Python And The Holy Grail, but I haven’t found time to watch it yet.

    Meanwhile, let’s see if I can post THIS:

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