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New papyrus found that claims Jesus Christ had a wife


Recently a Harvard Professor unveiled a portion of the papyrus that immediately made headlines. A fourth century piece of text written in Coptic language seemed to state that Jesus Christ had a wife. The text is incomplete, but it is clear that it contains a sentence "Jesus said to them, my wife". Many people jumped on a band wagon and made a bold statement that Christians believed Jesus Christ was actually married. Apparently later generations had a total amnesia and forgot about this significant portion of life.












Many claimed that erasing marriage from the official biography of Jesus was made on purpose to establish celibacy as a example to follow. If you think of a Roman Catholic Church that prohibits its priests to get married it might make sense why someone would ignore or even suppress this dangerous alternative history. After all priests are supposed to represent Christ on Earth and celibacy has a justification in orthodox Gospels of the Bible. However if you look at the Greek Orthodox Church (currently known as Eastern Orthodox Church) of the Eastern Roman Empire and existed as long as the Roman Catholic Church the situation is somewhat different. The clergy here is traditionally divided into Black and White categories. The Black clergy are obviously monks and can't get married, while the White clergy do get married. If you want to explain Christian forgetfulness as a mere subject of picking useful portions from the test while discarding others, you have explain why the Eastern Orthodox Christians did not get rid of a text that would explain why their clergy do get married.


A notion that belief in married life of Messiah was common in the early Christianity can not be supported by other text made around the same time period. For example Codex Sinaiticus, one of the earliest complete Bibles, was written about the same time period (middle fourth century) in Egypt and it ignored any texts that have any reference to marriage or a wife in a life of Jesus Christ. So even if this text does claim presence of wife in the life Jesus, it was certainly a belief of a small community of Christians and not the whole Church.


But there might another simpler explanation of such dramatic increase of non- orthodox gospels around late Third and early Fourth centuries. Most of a popular public ignore a simple historic facts that surrounded the period when this piece of papyrus was written. Beginning of the fourth century is marked by the last great Roman persecution campaign against the Christians under emperor Diocletian. In three centuries when Christianity existed in an Empire it grew to enormous sizes. Large percentage of educated Roman citizens practiced the prohibited religion. Even wife of the Roman Emperor was a Christian herself. Simple extermination as it was done previously would cripple the Empire and after troubled third century it would be a suicide to do so. Diocletian made a compromise in his attempt to eradicate it. He forced Christians to give up their sacred texts in exchange for their lives. Obviously people didn't want to sacrifice their gospels, but also were not quiet ready to die. Many simply written false texts that were very different from that of the traditional gospels and gave them up to the Roman authorities.


From the point of view of their community texts were not copies of the Gospels, so it had no spiritual or symbolic value to the Christians. The Romans often were not aware of the intricate details of the Christians beliefs. And if they knew something about this strange monotheistic cult it was mostly prejudices and half- truths. Kind of similar to that we have today. So they confiscated papyruses without giving them much reading to burn and eradicated them. It is not in a realm of impossible that some of these texts were not completely destroyed, but were simply forgotten in storage spaces. They survived the test of time and were later re- discovered.










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