Glenn’s got this one covered. I’ll pull out a few quotes.
In a statement released by Harvard University, Professor Karen King says “Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim,” This appears to be a strange reversal of duty. If anyone wishes to claim that there was a woman who was married to Jesus, surely it is they who would need to provide “reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim.” What is more, the fact that all the biographical material written about Jesus, right up to this scrap in the fourth century, no not include references to him having a wife is a significant fact. Given the reverence shown in many parts of the Christian world, even from an early time, to the mother of Jesus, the natural expectation we should have is that if Jesus had been married, his wife would have been singled out as an especially important person. But the reality is that none of the accounts of the life of Jesus that we have even make reference to such a person existing – until this snippet appeared, dating from the fourth century.
The Gnostic heresy is pretty well documented, so the fact that there’s a bit of papyrus from thte 4th century is one big yawn.
The Huffington Post (no surprises there) called the discovery “shocking,” although who is actually shocked is anyone’s guess. Massaging the notion that Jesus being married is a fairly common suggestion, it throws this wee gem into the mix: “The life of historical Jesus is often a matter of controversy, and this is not the first time it’s been proposed that Jesus was married. Most recently, Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code” depicted Jesus as being married to Mary Magdalene.” That may not be the best way to make the claim sound more plausible (but there’s at least a chance the Huff’s writers and editors aren’t aware of that).
But wait, here’s a chance for the media to attack the big, bad Roman Catholic Church.
“Angered” is hardly the word (perhaps the writer is attempting to connect dots to the angry protests over an anti-Islamic film happening as I write this). The film was more of a laughing-stock among early church historians and New Testament scholars. But notice that the idea that Jesus was not married is here presented as the position represented by the Catholic Church. The fact is, quire regardless of church affiliation, Jesus being married is simply not a view taken seriously across the spectrum of New Testament scholars – and churches for that matter. It’s a cute attempt to imply that it’s the Catholic Church in one corner and the rest of us in the other, but such is not reality.
I think some Christians were angered by the The Da Vinci Code, but that is hardly worth writing home about. The movie presented easily verifiable lies about the christian faith, it’s hardly news that some people would be angered by that. But there were (of course) no riots or ambassadors being dragged through the streets and killed.
Update: In case you hadn’t heard, the fragment has now been declared absolutely fake since it contains an error that only occurs in a PDF(yes, really!) of the so-called “Gospel of Thomas”.