Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gospel of Jesus' Wife

Intriguing name that Karen King has given this fragment.  My initial read of the fragment is thus:

The fragment reads very much like a paraphrase of sayings of Jesus found in the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip.  In the Gospel of Thomas 101, Jesus says that his true mother (probably a reference to the Spirit) gave him life, while his birth mother gave him death.  At the end of the Gospel of Thomas 114, there is a saying that indicates conflict between Jesus and Peter over Mary, whether women are worth to have life.  Jesus says yes that he will guide Mary so that she can become a living spirit.  In the Gospel of Philip, Mary Magdalene is referenced as Jesus' wife in the context of a discussion about discipleship which is what we seem to have here too in this gospel fragment.  But here marriage is referenced rather than singlehood or maleness.

So what is the fragment about?  Jesus is talking to his disciples about discipleship and life.  Jesus connects life with his mother, who he says gave it to him.  If other texts can help us, the disciples are probably responding, how can this be?  Women don't have life or aren't worthy of life.  Then Jesus tells them that Mary is worthy, and that his wife (probably Mary) will be able to be his disciple.  He says that he is with her because of something (text is fragmented).  If the reference in the next line (8) to "an image" is connected to the "because of" clause in line 7 (which I think is highly likely), then we might have evidence of a Valentinian Gnostic worldview where Jesus and Mary's earthly marriage is an image of their future aeonic marriage.

I would translate line 7 thusly: "I am with her because..." and the because has something to do with an "image".

I am thinking that the fragment is from a Valentinian text, like the Gospel of Philip, whose author is aware of the alternative sayings traditions that we find also embedded in Gospel of Thomas.  It makes perfect sense in this context and is consistent with what we already know about ideology in early Valentinian Gnostic Christianity.

My initial translation based on the photograph published on King's Harvard website is: "...my mother gave me li[fe...] The disciples said to Jesus [...] deny. Mary is worthy of it [...] Jesus said to them, "My wife [and...] Let men who are wicked [...] I am with her because [...] an image [...]"

PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Globe HERE

12 comments:

Newt Knight said...

fascinating!

Cosmogenes said...

The news immediately brought me back to the Gospel of Philip where Mary Magdalene is said to be the wife of Jesus. It must have come from the same branch of Christianity.

Cosmogenes said...

The news immediately brought me back to the Gospel of Philip where Mary Magdalene is said to be the wife of Jesus. It must have come from the same branch of Christianity.

Susan Burns said...

I was wondering why this small piece was so rectangular. Could it be that it was saved especially because it evidenced the wife of Jesus? Maybe there was a period of time when any text referencing Jesus' wife was destroyed.

Susan Burns said...

I was wondering why this small piece was so rectangular. Could it be that it was saved especially because it evidenced the wife of Jesus? Maybe there was a period of time when any text referencing Jesus' wife was destroyed.

JCS said...

@Susan Burns
The piece is so rectangular because some dealer sliced up a larger page and sold bits to increase profit

Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D. said...

I know nothing about Coptic, but in French, for example, woman and wife are the same word, "femme"; whereas man and husband are different words, "homme" and "mari." Sons are "fils" but daughters are just "filles" (girls). To be or not be "worthy" seems relevant both in French and in this fragment of Coptic text.

Mike Grondin said...

Not on main point, but it's an unnecessary over-reach to claim that Th101 says that "my [birth] mother gave me death". As you know, the lacuna there also allows "my [birth] mother brought me forth", which to my mind makes more sense in the total context of GTh.

Kali Dancing! said...

I've been glancing between different blogs in fascination, reading the varying translations of this bit of gospel. I find myself confused, however, with yours. Is your translation missing line 5 -- the one with something about "she will be my disciple"?

Souheil Bayoud said...

What garbage Gnostic writings has to do with the true gospel of salvation? Where is the good news in them? Anything based on a lie is a lie and the liar from the beginning is well known.The Holy blood Holy grail pretend that Jesus escaped death on the cross and married Mary Magdalene.Then Da Vinci Code pretend a secret marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the real blood of the grail is inside Mary based on the painting of the last supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.Now a "scholar" have a writing words on a papyrus about Jesus wife.Dr King is a dishonest scholar when she titled that piece in the shape of a credit card a gospel.There is a very dangerous lie about the real blood and the wife.The truth is that real and Holy blood is on Jesus'forehead and not in the womb of Mary Magdalene or any other woman.This is revealed in the true story THE COIN OF THE TEMPLE.As for the wife,the impossibility of the marriage of Jesus is not and will not be revealed to the opponents of the Orthodox CHURCH,the wise and the learned.

Souheil Bayoud said...

What garbage Gnostic writings has to do with the true gospel of salvation? Where is the good news in them? Anything based on a lie is a lie and the liar from the beginning is well known.The Holy blood Holy grail pretend that Jesus escaped death on the cross and married Mary Magdalene.Then Da Vinci Code pretend a secret marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene and the real blood of the grail is inside Mary based on the painting of the last supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.Now a "scholar" have a writing words on a papyrus about Jesus wife.Dr King is a dishonest scholar when she titled that piece in the shape of a credit card a gospel.There is a very dangerous lie about the real blood and the wife.The truth is that real and Holy blood is on Jesus'forehead and not in the womb of Mary Magdalene or any other woman.This is revealed in the true story THE COIN OF THE TEMPLE.As for the wife,the impossibility of the marriage of Jesus is not and will not be revealed to the opponents of the Orthodox CHURCH,the wise and the learned.

city said...

thanks for sharing.