A Response to the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

A Response to the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife

Apr 5, 2013

by Paul L. Maier

As for the so-called “Wife of Jesus Gospel” (so-named by its discoverer, Harvard professor Karen King), while the document is in-teresting, it is only another of the long string of Gnostic writings that have been surfacing ever since 1947. Like all the others, it is of little or no use as authentic source material on Jesus. All Gnos-tic writings are late derivatives from the true Gospels and regular-ly offer information that runs counter to the mass of reliable evi-dence on Jesus.

This notion of a married Jesus–even if the recent text proves authentic–has no value whatsoever, other than to show how aberrant were some of the views among heretical quasi-Christians in the second, third and fourth centuries after Christ. This zero-value as authentic history is typical of all such Gnostic writings that re-cently have received far more attention than they deserved by those who promote sensation rather than scholarship. The Early Church had a big problem dealing with heretical groups that tried to pervert the image of Jesus, and the modern church is now encountering the same.

While Professor King is careful not to make claims beyond the evidence, one wonders why she announced her find before any authen-ticity tests were conducted on the document. And why did she give the document so sensational a title? I also find it significant that some in the faculty at Harvard Divinity School are known propo-nents of the Gnostic writings as reliable sources for the life of Jesus. Professor King herself wonders if the traditional information on Jesus was not a “mastery story” that forcibly excluded contrary views, such as those in the Gnostic gospels.

It is high time that any thralldom to the Gnostic writings be abandoned. Most of that material is recondite, visionary, hydra-headed, apocalyptic, mostly incomprehensible and riddled with impos-sibilities. Let one example suffice: The Gospel of Thomas, which is universally regarded as the most cogent and important of the Gnostic literature, ends with the claim that Jesus will turn Mary Magdalene into a man so that she may attain to the Kingdom of God. Such a ri-diculous statement is now paralleled with the claim that Mary was Jesus’ wife . . . evidently before he turned her into a man!

About the Author:

Dr. Paul L. Maier is third vice-president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.


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