Baptist theologian counters the alleged Jesus’ wife claims
With all the media publicity over Karen King’s release of information about the fragment of “Jesus’ wife,” pastors, churchefs and Christians likely will receive questions or requests for opinions over the coming weeks.
Thomas White, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s vice president of student services and communications, was quick to respond with details surrounding the text and the author of the paper.
The Facts About the Fragment:
- The fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side legible under a magnifying glass, with about four words per line.
- The fragment comes from the middle of a text, which means you lose context on all sides.
- They think the fragment comes from the fourth century. It is written in an Egyptian language — Coptic, and is thought to be a translation of a second-century document. This has not yet been verified.
The Facts About Karen King:
- The Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, she holds the oldest endowed chair in the United States (1721).
- Her books include “The Secret Revelation of John;” “The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle;” “What Is Gnosticism?;” “Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity;” “Revelation of the Unknowable God;” “Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism” (editor); and “Women and Goddess Traditions in Antiquity and Today” (editor).
- King currently is teaching a class titled “Women, Sex, and Gender in Ancient Christianity.”
- For reference purposes, King has named the “gospel” of which this is a part the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.”
One Examiner writer alleges that this presentation was ideal for King to make a name for herself.
“…if you are a female in a male-dominated role and world–and the Harvard Divinity School qualifies in that regard–it pays to have some kind of historical document surface during your tenure as a woman.”
Stephen Emmel, a professor of Coptology at the University of Muenster who was on the international advisory panel that reviewed the 2006 discovery of the Gospel of Judas, said the text accurately quotes Jesus as saying “my wife.” But he questioned whether the document was authentic.
“There’s something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.
White points to more details: “the fragment is small,” “ the document dates too late to have impact,” before offering this conclusion.
“Any fragment too far removed from Jesus’ time loses credibility because of the distance from Jesus’ life, and we can’t know who wrote it or what agenda that person may have had. At best, this document tells us what some people were thinking in the second or fourth century. Yes, it is interesting, but no, it does not change anything.”
White is also points to King having an agenda.
“The naming of the fragment and the naming of the gospel play into her research field of women’s roles and unknown gospel accounts. This is like a hunting show demonstrating how you can’t kill a deer without a Rage broadhead on your arrow. Then at the end of the show you find out the only sponsor is Rage. While King may be considered a fine academic scholar, she has an agenda.”
Read the full statement by Thomas White here