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Harvard Divinity Prof Claims Proof Jesus Was Married


Perhaps you’ve seen the hubbub in today’s news that Harvard Divinity Professor Karen King has discovered a piece of parchment dated sometime in the second century that claims Jesus was married to a woman named Mary during the time of his incarnation. The parchment, roughly the size of a cell phone, cites Jesus making a reference to his wife.

Since the publication of this “discovery,” scholars around the world have stepped up to the microphone to either support the discovery or to disavow it as fraudulent.

Let me make a few, brief observations as an everyday pastor serving a congregation in the midwest. First, the Bible we carry and open on our laps is not the product of a given manuscript. It is the product of literally thousands and thousands of manuscripts that have been collected and verified by scholars over the course of hundreds of years. So if we have one cell phone size fragment from a manuscript that quotes Jesus referencing a wife, we have hundreds that would argue the opposite. The debate is not “my parchment is better than yours.” The argument out of Harvard is “my parchment is better than the nearly 7,000 Greek manuscripts you possess.” This is the argument from sheer volume. The Bible in your lap is reliable. It’s stood the test of time. Roll with it.

The second thing I would offer is that the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture itself. Every sentence in the Bible fits with all of the rest. We all face the temptation to take pet verses and build entire theologies around them. This practice is called “proof-texting.” We don’t get the privilege of picking and choosing the verses we like and kicking to the curb the verses we don’t. The Bible has 66 unique voices that relate the story of God to us. We traditionally call these voices the “books” of the Bible. But don’t forget that the Bible is a unified document which is best appreciated and interpreted when treated as a whole unit.

Finally, don’t let claims like this make you afraid of scholarship. Personally, I’m thankful that there are people who have devoted their lives to furthering the study of Scripture. We don’t know it all, in part because we are finite in our capacity, but also because the Bible is simply that rich of a resource. Every day new discoveries are being made in archeology. Every day new papers are being published and books are being composed. We don’t know it all. Don’t let that fact make you afraid of something new. Let that fact make you a better Bible student. At the same time, you have a responsibility to be discerning. So don’t swallow everything that comes down the stream.

Categories : Bible

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