If Only Jesus Were Someone Else…
May 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
The papyrus dubbed “the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” reported in 2012 to be evidence that Jesus was married has been all but universally debunked. The business card-sized fragment with the Coptic words “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife… She will also be My disciple'”, first presented by an Oxford Divinity School professor as an authentic text is almost certainly a recent forgery.
The idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child—and hidden by early church fathers possibly to protect their suppression of women—actually came from an earlier Gnostic view of Jesus, deduced by some from the Gospel of Philip and other documents that were not recognized by the early church as authentic or inspired. It wouldn’t be sinful for Jesus to get married and start a family; this was just not the Father’s plan for Him. The problem with such a Gnostic notion promulgated by fans of Dan Brown fiction is that it simply isn’t found in the Scriptures, and the weight of manuscript evidence nullifies any claim that the early church modified the Scriptures to fit a patriarchal agenda.
More interesting than the controversy surrounding this little papyrus, to me, is the way the media world and liberally-minded folks jumped onto the possibility of a new revelation about Jesus. The Wall Street Journal put it this way: “The world took notice. The possibility that Jesus was married would prompt a radical reconsideration of the New Testament and biblical scholarship.” I imagine this is because we are not all satisfied with what the Bible says about Jesus.
There is more than just a fringe following of the notion that Jesus didn’t even exist, which if true would do far more to utterly destroy Christianity than if Jesus had married. But it doesn’t seem to really matter what the new revelation is. If Jesus is allowed to be someone other than who the Bible says He is, perhaps we will be allowed to be someone other than who the Bible says we are. Who likes to be identified as a sinner in need of redemption? The frauds are more welcomed than the truth.
Tim Keller has said that God doesn’t separate the good and the bad, but the humble and the proud. Jesus (and the larger context of the Bible) says we are all sinners (Mark 10:18, Romans 3:23). The humble know there is more to it. Not only did He love us too much to leave us in ignorance about our sin, but He went all the way to the cross to set us free from it. Don’t fall for forgeries. There is no other version of that story that works, and no better news to report than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.