When I first heard that a professor at Harvard Divinity School found a piece of ancient papyrus indicating that Jesus had a wife, my initial reaction was one of skepticism and eye rolling. Hadn’t we been over this already—back when Dan Brown wrote the Da Vinci Code and got everyone questioning whether Jesus was secretly married to Mary Magdalene?
And besides, the papyrus contained eight random lines, none of which were complete sentences, and only a few of which were even related to each other. The words, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife . . .'" were legible among the various phrases; thus, speculation began as to whether or not this writing could actually be legitimate. Did Jesus have a wife that the Bible never mentioned? Was it possible?
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The more I thought about it, the more difficult it was for me to wrap my brain around the concept. And I came up with loads of questions I couldn't even begin to answer. For example, if Jesus had been married, would people have thought he loved his wife more than anyone else? Would it mean the God of the universe had sex with a mere mortal—much the way Zeus was rumored to do in ancient Greek mythology? If he and this wife had a baby, would their offspring be part divine being?
And, finally, what about that verse in I Corinthians 7 where the Apostle Paul writes, "An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided." Would that same statement be true of Jesus? If he were married, would his interests be divided, and would his mission of being the redeemer and savior of mankind then be compromised?
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In the spirit of speculative fun, I thought I might do a little research and find some answers. It turns out I am not the first person to consider such ideas. In 1970, a professor and theologian named William E. Phipps published a book called Was Jesus Married? The Distortion of Sexuality in the Christian Tradition. It is an extensive study of Jewish culture in the time of Jesus’ life, as well as an examination of the Catholic Church and their call for priestly celibacy.
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