Sigh. It seems that a month cannot go by without some new ‘discovery’ about Jesus. The latest tempest in a teapot is the announcement by a Harvard scholar that a small papyrus fragment dated in the fourth century and written in an Egyptian dialect of Coptic contains the phrase “My wife” in a statement attributed to Jesus. Details may be found here.
When these events occur, you can usually get a sane, scholarly take on the matter from Darrell Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, at his blog. You can always find a link to his blog on my blogroll. In this case, Bock says it is way too early to reach any final conclusions about the facts related to this papyrus fragment, but the unanimous testimony of the early church was that Jesus did not have a wife.
Since the papyrus fragment ends at the phrase “My wife,” there is little context to work with. It is likely a metaphorical reference to the church as the bride of Christ, similar to what we see in Ephesians 5.
A brief biblical refutation of the idea that Jesus had a wife has been published by Jesuit priest James Martin. It is a good article to send to anyone concerned about this matter.
In any case, this papyrus fragment is nothing to get excited about. After all, newspapers have to print something so as to give bloggers like me fodder for comment (smile).