frgavin on September 26th, 2012

I usually leave the Episcopal stuff to my Stand Firm colleagues, but I can’t let this one go by. Seems an Episcopal priest by the name of Cynthia Bourgeault is really excited by the prospect that Jesus was married:

You know there’s a buzz out there when 100 emails come into your box all bearing identical links to the New York Times article responsible for the stir.

I clink [sic] on the link and voilà! There before me is a photo of a small papyrus fragment from the fourth century and distinguished Harvard scholar Karen King explaining how this recently recovered and certified authentic Coptic fragment unmistakably has Jesus referring to Mary Magdalene as “my wife.”

That’s funny, because when I read what King has published as the translation of lines 3-5 of the papyrus, I see this:

] deny. Mary is worthy of it [
]…Jesus said to them, “My wife…”[
]…she will be able to be my disciple…[

Not only do we have no idea what the portions signified by ellipses might say, but as I recall there were several Marys mentioned in the New Testament. Where is the “unmistakable” evidence that Jesus is talking about Mary Magdalene? Because Dan Brown said so?

Wow! That should send another shock wave reverberating through the Vatican!

Yes, that’s definitely why we should be enthused by this fraud find—it will goose the Pope.

Now it’s true that journalism is skewed toward the sensational while scholarship is more skewed toward the cumulative. Karen King is a careful scholar and has done her homework carefully. She knows—as all of us do that have worked in the field with any degree of due diligence—that the contentious issue of Jesus’s marital status is not going to rest decisively on one stray fragment of papyrus.

Of course not. It’s going to rest on the entire Dan Brown corpus.

But what this new discovery does do is to provide additional confirmation for a body of evidence already mounting from those other recently discovered early Christian sacred texts—specifically, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Gospel of Philip—that a group of very early Christians remember a version of their history quite different from what eventually became the officially sanctioned story.

Now, those who have examined the question “with any degree of due diligence” are aware that two of the three documents she mentions were written 100 years or more after the lifetime of Jesus, while the reference in the Gospel of Thomas (v. 114) is not to Mary as wife, but as disciple who will be “made male,” i.e., enabled to relate to God as men do. I’m sure that’s every feminist’s desire. And what difference does it make that some “Christians” wrote their own version of “history”? There are people who, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, still think that Neil Armstrong never set foot on the moon, and some of them have been willing to put that belief into documents they publish for the world to see. So why should we believe the Gnostics who thought that Jesus was married? I’m guessing it’s because we want to.

It’s also right there hidden in plain sight in the four canonical gospels once you start looking more closely.

When people say things like this they remind me of Charles Taze Russell (founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses) or Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science) or any of a hundred other modern cult leaders. We’ve had the four gospels for two millennia, they’ve been pored over by countless scholars, clergy, monks, nuns, and laity, and yet all along—hidden in plain sight!—was something that never occurred to anyone who ever read these four short documents until modern liberal Protestants finally saw it! It’s a miracle! The scales have dropped from our eyes, and it never would have happened without the sexual revolution and feminism!

Sooner or later, the evidence trickling in from all quarters is going to be too overwhelming for all but the most obdurate traditionalists to ignore.

Ah, the inevitable march of progress. I seem to remember Karl Marx and the advocates of eugenics saying something like that, too. Soviet advocates of Lysenkoism, as well.

You get the point.

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