Science and religion have never been the best of friends, and according to a scientific study published in the Harvard Theological Review on Thursday it is possible that the second coming of Jesus may include his wife. Revelations, by science, of an ancient papyrus dating back to over 1,000 years, reveals what could be a quote by Jesus saying, “My wife”, and it may not be one of his usual parables.
The ancient document became the property of an East German collector in the 1960’s, which was later sold and then made available to Harvard Theologian, Karen King, in 2011. King presented what she describes as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife to a symposium in Rome for verification and acknowledgement in 2012. Unsurprisingly, The Catholic Church was not amused and claimed it to be none other than a forgery.
The document, bound to inspire controversy among many, mostly men, was subjected to radiocarbon tests and micro-Raman spectroscopy which proved that the dating and composition of the document is proof of its authenticity; welcoming news to Karen King. Expert in Ancient writing, Malcolm Choat of Macquarie University said he has no reason to believe that the text is a forgery.
So, could the advent of Jesus include the coming of his wife? Mr. Leo Depuydt, Scriptural Scholar at Brown University, decreed that he is “100 percent convinced” that the papyrus is a sham. Mr. Depuydt stated the papyrus is comprised of verses taken from the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas being yet another mysterious document omitted from the Holy Book by the laws of the Christian Church (canonical) by way of the Vatican, for reasons unrevealed. However, are not many of the biblical texts uncanny in their similarities? Is it not argued that the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Mathew, Luke) are texts taken from each other? Are they not all accepted as factual?
The underlying factor may not be the authenticity or inauthenticity of the document. The underlying factor is simply the role of women in the Church and Christianity, and the chauvinistic ideologies against it. There have been many arguments over the decades about the intricacies of Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene, a woman who was thought by the Roman Catholic Church to be a prostitute. That title later was retracted by the second Vatican Council of the said Catholic Church in 1969.
The papyrus appears to have pinpointed not just Jesus’ referral to his wife, but also to a woman by the name of Mary who seems to have had a leadership role. Scholars verified that the wording of the papyrus reveals that Jesus referred to Mary in terms of: “She will be able to be my disciple” and “I am with her.” Interestingly, Mr. Depuydt highlighted that the forger wanted to spin modern theological issues including celibacy and female priesthood.
As Easter approaches, as always, Jesus and his coming is bound to be a topic of conversation among the faithful, but now there is a new twist to the 2000 year old doctrine; his wife. Like the speculations of the sacred shroud, hundreds of holy relics and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, the truth is yet to be revealed to those who are asking the questions.
Opinion by Humphrey Bennett