The latest evidence culled from the gospels by biblical scholars has confirmed one thing. It had been left out in the historical records. It has proved that Jesus Christ had a spouse.
A piece of papyrus (that is where we get the word for paper) has been found. And it suggests something about many people in bygone times. That is they thought differently from the present day generation.
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For one thing, the gospel printed on the papyrus says that Jesus Christ was probably married to Mary Magdalene. Even the ink used to write the words on the papyrus is genuine and belongs to that particular period in history.
The authentic nature of the document completely re-makes the religious history of Christianity. Discovered three years ago by Karen King, the piece of papyrus is about the size of a business card.
The textual language is Coptic which was the traditional spiel in Egypt. The gospel has Jesus referring to his wife and he calls her Mary. This suggests that she might have been Mary Magdalene. The date of the gospel is the fourth century.
Yet it might be a rewritten copy of a Greek manuscript dating from the second century. However, careful scientific analysis yields new evidence. The papyrus is more than a millennium in time span in terms of its age of origin, according to Live Science.
It has been a year since many scholars began spreading the news that the papyrus was a hoax. It had been forged, they said. Karen King however says this is not necessarily so. She prefers to stay broad-minded about the whole thing.
We cannot say at present with certainty whether the document is a fraud or the real thing. But that does not mean that in the future we will be just as deluded.
The analysis and interpretation of the gospel will take time and effort. The new tests being run on the ink say that it is actually a product of ancient times. The final decision remains to be taken. Till then it is a moot point indeed.
The person who gave the gospel to Karen King has chosen to remain unknown. He doesn’t want the publicity and does not want to court controversy either. He has said this much that he did buy it from a man who obtained it from Potsdam, Germany.
The controversy goes on since the man he bought the gospel from is no longer alive. And whether he sold it or not remains doubtful.
There are several things which don’t add up. Yet the find is of significance indeed. The facts which have emerged over the past few months go into great detail. That is regarding the origins and journey of the papyrus. From its source to the present worldwide exposure it has been given, it has come a long way. Forensic experts are working full-time on the case. The signature of the seller is extant. And it is being matched with the date when the document was sold to the unknown buyer.
So the question is whether the document is 100% genuine or a forgery. It’s difficult to say so early in the process. A lot more needs to be done before the question can be answered with great alacrity and acumen.
It has been termed the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife and it has caused a lot of debate among both clergy and laymen. And with science rigorously weighing in on the matter, things are headed for a sort of culture war.
The entrenched forces of conservative religion will take the side of faith and tradition. But there are those looking to revise the ancient standards. They will probably want to reform their faith-based world-view. That is in the light of fresh evidence.
The papyrus bears an uncanny resemblance to another document, according to DailyMail. The similarity is too much to be a mere coincidence. This has further complicated matters. The exploration into various historical records can get to be quite a tangle of truths and lies.
One doesn’t know what to believe and what not to believe. There is simply so much confusion that one can hardly make head or tail out of the array laid out on the study table. The similarity between this document and the Gospel of Thomas is there.
It is a cause for doubts as regards authenticity. There are many loopholes in the process. Sifting the hard evidence from the mythological stuff is hard. It will be a lengthy process.
The opening up of the debate regarding Jesus’s marriage is revolutionary in its scope. The Bible does not mention Jesus having had a wife. But the evidence which has emerged contradicts this biblical lacuna in narration.
The camps are set both for and against the new find. Those in the former tend to keep a skeptical approach foremost in their repertoire. But those in the religious camp don’t want to lose their basic moorings.
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And so they have decided to defend the faith using every tool in their arsenal. We can only wait and see what the outcome of this controversy will be. For whatever it is, it will prove monumental.