Jesus married? Well, not exactly.

You may have heard the NPR report this morning about a papyrus fragment evidencing that Jesus of Nazareth may have had a wife.  The Media has a tendency of sensationalizing these stories to get people’s attention.  The NPR report is at least fairer than most by including some conservative Biblical scholarship from Dallas Theological Seminary.  Still, it is introduced by NPR as “creating a sensation among New Testament scholars.”  “Sensation” is likely an overstatement.  As stated in the NPR report one late textual fragment with no context is not enough reason to be suspicious of the hundreds of other texts that show Jesus was unmarried.  Dr. Jeff Gibbs of Concordia Seminary St. Louis wrote a solid and short comment on this matter at ConcordiaTheology.org.  Specifically he points out how in her scholarly research Prof. Karen King makes it clear that the fragment “does not provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married.”  Yet, the article by MSNBC entitled, “Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife”, contradicts Prof. King’s statement.  Prof. King’s comment that this papyrus is not evidence that Jesus was married does not come until much later in the article, but one wonders how MSNBC could then title the article in the contradictory manner they chose.  To quote Dr. Gibbs, “Sometimes all it takes is the ability to read what someone has written.”

Rev. Eric M. Estes

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