There’s a new controversy a-brewing, and it’s all by design. Professor Karen King is promoting the novel idea that Jesus had a wife. She has found a fragment—supposedly from the 4th century (though not yet attested)—which contains the line, “Jesus said to them, My wife….”
Whether anyone in the 4th century actually wrote that line, we do not yet know. We do know that Jesus had a bride—the church (Ephesians 5). And we know something else: Professor King has not uncovered “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” as she is now calling the fragment.
Referring to a fragment in this way is like calling a business card a biography. As a matter of fact, the fragment is a little smaller than a business card. It contains maybe 30 words in Coptic script. It is hardly sufficient evidence for anything, much less proof that Christianity had lots of different gospels that taught lots of different things (which is the professors real aim—not just in this latest controversy but in all her “scholarship.”)
Dr. Mohler has a full review of the latest claims Professor King is making in regard to a wife for Jesus. His critique is excellent and thorough. For those of you who do not have the time to read through his fuller critique, I offer Dr. Mohler’s final assessment of the matter:
“The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?” Not hardly. This is sensationalism masquerading as scholarship. Nevertheless, do not miss what all this really represents — an effort to replace biblical Christianity with an entirely new faith.
The reason Dr. Mohler asserts that this is an effort to replace biblical Christianity with an entirely new faith is that news outlets have been all too eager to report the fragment find as though it were actually a new gospel. No new gospel has been found. And, even if it were a whole gospel account, why would anyone on the basis of a single 4th century document consider overturning 20 centuries of tradition which is based on thousands and thousands of documents—many of which were written within decades of Jesus’s life on earth?
The entire affair is a sad commentary of the state of scholarship at Harvard Divinity and in America more generally. If this is scholarship, then we might as well say business cards are literature and bumper stickers are fine poetry. There is no such thing as a gospel of Jesus’s wife.