Did Jesus Have a Wife? Controversy Surrounds Recent Coptic Artifact Discovery

A veritable firestorm still rages in archaeological circles over the so-called Gospel of Jesus Wife, a small fourth century papyrus fragment brought to light by scholars at Harvard’s divinity school in September of 2012.

Professor Karen King announced the existence of the fragment at an international conference and declared that it was the only existing ancient document in which Jesus spoke explicitly about having a wife. In the text he used the actual words “my wife.” Even though King said at the time that findings about the ancient Coptic text would be published in the Harvard Theological Review in January, the immediate blowback to the announcement was so intense that within days plans were changed; and, to put any remaining doubts about the fragment’s authenticity to rest, more extensive tests were scheduled.

In the meantime, the Catholic Church isn’t waiting to weigh in with its opinion. Indeed, within days the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano stated that the document is an “inept” forgery. The Church, of course, has skin in the game, since the notion that Jesus had a wife would, among other things, completely undermine the rationale for priestly celibacy, something that is already mired in controversy.

In recent years, the suggestion that Jesus was married, or may have had a special relationship with a woman, has gained widespread fame thanks primarily to the immense success of the Dan Brown novel and movie The DaVinci Code. Based upon historical research previously developed in the 1982 book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, the argument is made that not only was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene, but that he sired a bloodline that ultimately became the Merovingian dynasty in medieval France.

The newly discovered fragment is not purported to prove that Jesus was married but only that some early Christians believed he was. The much-celebrated Gnostic Gospels—discovered in 1945 near Nag Hammadi, Egypt—contain numerous early Christian references to a special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. There is even a gospel of Mary Magdalene. Needless to say, the Roman Catholic Church has not looked kindly on the Gnostic Gospels or their implications, now or ever. From the official Church’s inception, the early fathers proclaimed the teachings of the Gnostics to be heresy. At the time the Nag Hammadi gospels were buried, one could have been tortured and killed just for reading them, which, in all probability, explains why they were hidden.

For more on Gnosticism see Patrick Marsolek’s piece on Carl Jung and the Gnostics (p. 32).


Could New Bahamas Discovery Be Atlantis?

Dr. Greg Little and his wife Dr. Lora Little, who, for ten years, have been investigating underwater archaeological features in the Bahamas, in late October announced discovery of a potential new site 30 miles south of Bimini. It sits close to the edge of the Great Bahama Bank in 20 feet of water. The location is named Brown’s Ruins after finders Eslie and Krista Brown, Bimini divers who work closely with the Littles.

The site is made up of thousands of stone blocks, many rectilinear, others columnar, which cover an area estimated to be 530 feet by 130 feet. The stones are regularly 8 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet and weigh three or four tons each. At the top of the structure are large flat stones giving the appearance of a raised platform, like those seen on the summits of pyramids in Central and South America.

Stones examined so far by two laboratories have revealed the structure is of metamorphic rock called blueschist, which only forms under extremely high pressure, at very low temperatures, and at great depth underground. Underwater the stone blocks at Brown’s Ruins have a distinct blue-purple hue.

The nearest sources of blueschist are the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and central and eastern Cuba. No known exploitation of these natural resources is recorded. Elsewhere in the world, blueschist has been used as building materials, most notably on the Island of Crete in the Greek Aegean, where it was used in the construction of walls and buildings as early as 1500 BC.

The Bahamas are officially thought to have been occupied first around AD 500-700; no known local culture could have been responsible, especially since the site is located on a former shoreline that was submerged over 6,000 years ago.