Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King created a stir in September when she unveiled the discovery of an ancient Coptic manuscript purportedly showing that certain Gnostic Christians in the 2nd century believed Jesus had a wife. The manuscript fragment, which King called “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” contains only 33 words but appears to quote Jesus as referring to “my wife.” Many evangelical Bible scholars were quick to respond and question the credulity of this finding, including Biola professor Gary Manning and alumnus Daniel Wallace.
“There are three reasons that Jesus was probably not married. First, the New Testament never mentions a wife. Since the NT authors mention Jesus’ mother, father, four brothers, some sisters, an aunt, and some cousins, it is very unlikely that Jesus had a wife and no one mentioned it. Second, Jesus described a special calling of celibacy to allow a greater focus on the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:10-12; cp. 1 Cor 7:7-9). This strongly implies that Jesus was celibate. Third, the church fathers, some of whom had access to reliable oral tradition about Jesus, believed that Jesus never married (Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Chrysostom, as King points out).”
– Gary Manning, associate professor of New Testament
From Sept. 19 blog post on thegoodbookblog.com: “Did Jesus Have a Wife? A New Gnostic Fragment,” which quickly became the most popular post in the history of the Good Book Blog.
“Does this fragment prove that Jesus was married? The answer is an emphatic no. At most, it can only tell us what one group of ‘Christians’ in the middle of the second century thought. But it says nothing about true history, about Jesus of Nazareth.”
– Daniel B. Wallace (’75), New Testament scholar and text critic
From Sept. 21 blog post on danielbwallace.com: “Reality Check: The ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Coptic Fragment.”