Where Is Mrs. Jesus?

I liked Ross Douthat’s commentary on the recent “Mrs. Jesus” media frisson caused by an obscure, late, possibly forged document mentioning Jesus’ wife. The only reason this made the news is because it suits us to reimagine Jesus in our image, and “our image” is certainly not celibate.

Douthat points out the classic “scholarly” move (scholarly only because it is made by scholars) in puzzling over why none of the original sources mention Jesus’ marriage. He cites the Smithsonian piece quoting the document’s discoverer, Harvard’s Karen King:

The question the discovery raises, King told me, is, “Why is it that only the literature that said he was celibate survived? And all of the texts that showed he had an intimate relationship with Magdalene or is married didn’t survive? Is that 100 percent happenstance? Or is it because of the fact that celibacy becomes the ideal for Christianity?”

Two options: either random accidents of history have misplaced those documents, or else there was an early church conspiracy to erase them. The possibility that no documents mention Jesus’ marriage because he wasn’t, in fact, married, is too simplistic, too unsophisticated, to consider.

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