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Did Jesus have a wife?

Beautiful Bedouin Woman circa 1880 U.S. Library of Congress matpc10608
US Library of Congress 1898-1914

In a provocative title, Huffington Post writer Jaweed Kaleem catches our attention with the headline, "The Gospel Of Jesus' Wife," New Early Christian Text, Indicates Jesus May Have Been Married”. [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/the-gospel-of-jesus-wife_n_1891...

In this latest ‘discovery’ from an ancient piece of papyrus codex acquired by Professor Karen L. King, at Harvard Divinity School, the Coptic language has the following quote: “Jesus said to them, ‘my wife’”… Were Jesus to have been married, a common, and natural state for most males in his time, region and culture, what changes for us today? Here are some possibilities:

1. The first writers and compilations of scripture would need to be re-examined and re-evaluated in light of new discoveries. You can see celibacy and chastity touted in later New Testament writings, mostly as the apocalyptic movement expected Jesus to return any day.
2. ‘Tradition’ that arose with the writings of early church ‘Fathers’ 70-200-300 years after Jesus, were layered upon in subsequent centuries. These celebrated celibacy and chastity, and valued marriage only for procreation.
3. The humanity of Jesus assumes greater importance than an otherworldly sort of ghostly ‘divine’ miracle worker with no real human or masculine qualities. There is great pathos in this impassioned, committed human being who taught, led, healed and loved and was later killed for his insistence that the reign of God could be actualized here and now- in the face of Caesar. You can believe this is the man who wept, became enraged at the money changers, sweat, grew weary, had need to withdraw, and ‘got into it’ with his mother and siblings.
4. It becomes increasingly difficult to take scripture from one translation into medieval English literally at face value. An analogy would be the person who covers their ears and closes their eyes and shouts, ‘La la la la’ at the top of their voice to avoid hearing and seeing the overwhelming truth that things did not happen exactly as they once thought reading the old King James edition in the face of historic and socio-cultural evidence from intepretation, translation, and research. (Kind of like some folks do watching a scary movie.)
5. We recognize that the role of priests, scribes, interpreters and the context which shaped them over the centuries gave way to different meanings- which also shifted in the face of new situations, findings, and changing conditions.
6. Far from devaluing the role of a wife and women, it can elevate the other half of humanity, and raises some very, very interesting questions for Christianity and for other patriarchal cultures, as well as what happened to Her, His wife.
7. One thing is for sure . . . none of the original cast looked like American movie stars. Happy Rosh Hashanah -Jewish High Holy Days-(celebrating the NewYear, Judgment & Remembrance). Lots to think about. May your NewYear be full of Light.

Probably none of what we think of any of the figures of faith is 100% real- regardless of which tradition you’re speaking of. The 'righteousness' many people claim, is too often dogmatism and arrogance. The central message, ‘to love God foremost and love your neighbor as yourself’, is what we really need. Centuries later, that part of it hasn’t been looking too good. Wife or not, that’s the point we most needed to hear and respond to then and now.

Meditation for this post:
During slavery days (and this is/was true for women), “African Americans did not even own themselves.” p 8 . . . and ‘The ‘being-ness’ or ‘I am-ness’ of a person does not derive from other human beings or from social institutions that are consequences and repositories of cultures. This is the ontological basis of identity that King consistently asserts and emphasizes: I am a person, I am somebody, whether or not someone else thinks so and acknowledges me to be so.” p 30 Building King’s Beloved Community by Donald Chinula

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