Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus's Wife -- Does It Matter Whether Jesus Was Married?

In this case, I'm just passing along an intriguing article that's been trending on Facebook for a few days:  "No Forgery Evidence Seen in 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' Papyrus."  The article says that scientific evidence has verified that the ink used and the papyrus date back to the 8th century A.D.; however:
". . . the results do not conclusively prove the papyrus isn't a very clever forgery, caution the scientists. Instead, they remove previously raised objections to the text, finding no evidence of it being a fake."
People connect this new information to the craze of the DaVinci Code novel as though the book was somehow possibly rooted in history or was prescient. However, I've written previously that there was nothing that unique about that book to me. I'd heard that religious conspiracy theory before. However, this controversial papyrus says nothing about Jesus possibly having children, and that was the truly big reveal in the novel.

All that aside, the real discussion this papyrus seems to stoke concerns the role of women in the church because part of the snippet says, per the National Geographic article, "The words 'Jesus said to them, My wife . . . she is able to be my disciple . . .' are written on the center of the fragment."

For me, this is an issue that would be of concern most to the Roman Catholic Church because it not only bars women from being priests but also demands priests be single and celibate, but there are other Christian denominations that bar women from ministry as well.

As for Catholicism, in February the pope ordained a married man as an official priest for the first time in more than a century. In the early Catholic church, "celibacy was optional."

As for protestants (some protestants), clinging to the belief that Jesus never married or had sex feeds into the puritanical notion that sex is bad, that the sin in the Garden of Eden was sex represented by eating the apple. For the rest of us who profess faith in Jesus, does it matter whether he was married or not?


Peanut Road said...

There are a few married RC priests. Almost all of them are Anglican priests who 'came over' to the Roman church. One served as an occasional substitute at my last parish and that is the rule---they are completely and officially priests but not allowed to be pastors so most serve in some other ministry (this one was a prison chaplain, most of the time).

Frank Stuart said...

As a long time ex catholic, let me add this. To the best of my knowledge, the RCC has allowed priests to marry in many parts of Africa for years. Marriage is so much a part of the culture (the story goes) that if celibacy was a deal breaker there'd be no African priests.

Vérité Parlant said...

Thank you, Stephen & Frank. I think I've heard that before, S., but I'd forgotten it, regarding Anglican priests.

F., I did not know about the African piece of this. Good point of reference.