Summary: The recent publishing of a 4th century papyrus fragment where Jesus is purported to say He had a wife will continue to be vetted for months in the media. Christians must be informed and have a strong defense of the authority of the Word of God.
DID JESUS HAVE A WIFE?
1. In a church scriptorium, a group of old monks huddled over an ancient manuscript.
2. They are holy men devoted to God and studying the holy writings. Suddenly, the group begins to wail in unison over what they are reading. Someone rushes into the scriptorium to find out what has shaken these monks.
3. One of the old men cries out, “We have read it wrong; we have read it wrong all these years. It does not say “celibate;” it says “celebrate!”
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” Rev. 22:18-19.
18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” Mt. 5:18; 24:35.
1. Tonight's topic goes off into the absurd, but we live in an absurd world. I'm going to talk tonight about the new story of a papyrus fragment that suggests that Jesus had a wife.
2. Never be afraid to face an accusation about the Lord, or the Bible, because the accusations will always be proven wrong in the end.
3. The New Testament was written by men who actually knew Jesus, His mother, His brothers and sisters. They knew His neighbors. They were not shaken by accusations made about Jesus during His lifetime, because they knew Him.
5. He was accused of being a "Samaritan and demon possessed" John 4:48. The Jewish leaders tried to deny His miracles (John 9:18-34) but couldn’t, and later made up a story to explain away Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:11-15).
6. The apostles never hid these accusations, because they weren’t true. Jesus DID perform the miracles recorded, which were even attested by non--Christian sources [Babylonian Sanhedrin 43a; "Acts of Pontius Pilate" quoted by Justin Martyr in his defense, Apology I:48; Josephus, Antiquities 18:3: para. 3; Phlegon recorded the eclipse during Christ's crucifixion; Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan that Jesus was worshiped as God in A.D. 112, Epistles, X:96.]
7. So we’re going to look at this fragment, Non-canonical literature, see how we got the Bible, and observe that it can be completely trusted.
8. The title of this message is, “Did Jesus have a Wife?”
I. THE WIFE OF JESUS?
A. REVELATION OF SPURIOUS FRAGMENT
1. An ancient scrap of papyrus, no bigger than a business card, was held up before cameras by Dr. Karen King, of Harvard Divinity School, at a Coptic studies conference in Rome, Sept. 18, 2012.
2. She claimed it was the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married. A firestorm immediately ensued over the authenticity of this document.
3. Heavy-weight scholars such as Helmut Koester, Francis Watson, Craig Evans, and Hany Sadak have said it appears to be a modern forgery.
4. Others criticized Karen King’s method of introducing the fragment; breaking the story to two American newspapers, before date-testing the document!
5. The media erupted in glee at the story. One author fantasized what Jesus’ wife would nag him about.
6. So why do we need to discuss this? Isn’t it all going to just blow-over? Probably not. The opponents of Christianity love the story and will probably keep bringing it up.
7. The Smithsonian Channel is producing a documentary about it that they will keep putting in front of students for years to come, plus the Harvard Theological Review is going to publish a paper about it in January, 2013.
B. RAMIFICATIONS OF THE STORY
1. Even if this document turns out to have been penned in the 4th century, it has no bearing on the Scriptures. Why?
2. Because there are literally thousands of documents which are in some way connected to the events of the Bible or the people of God.
3. These documents were not considered inspired by God and so were not contained in the Canon of Scripture. Here are a few instances.
II. NON-CANONICAL LITERATURE
A. APOCRYPHA & PSEUDEPIGRAPHA
1. The "Apocrypha" are books added to the Old Testament by the Catholic Church that Protestants say are not canonical. These contain 1st & 2nd Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Bell and the Dragon, the Song of the Three Hebrew Children, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1st & 2nd Maccabees. Many of them contain fanciful or erroneous stories or details.