A snippet of ancient papyrus studied by a Harvard professor indicates that early Christians believed Jesus was a married man, contrary to traditional belief. Karen King said that the Fourth Century fragment is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife.
She helped to translate the six words, believed to in ancient Greek, on a three-inch fragment. The words, written in the Coptic language of ancient Egyptian Christians, translate to: “Jesus said to them, my wife.”
In the dialogue, the disciples discuss whether Mary is worthy and Jesus says “she can be my disciple,” King said. The text contains a dialogue in which Jesus identifies Mary, explained King, who added that the fragment is a copy of a gospel, probably written in the second century. Christian belief has long held that Jesus was unmarried even there is no evidence to prove it either way.
King presented the document at a six-day conference being held in Rome. To date, the discovery has gone unmentioned by the Vatican. The fragment belongs to an anonymous private collector who contacted King to help translate and analyze it. Nothing is known about the circumstances of its discovery, but it is believed it came from Egypt, where the dry climate allows ancient writings to survive and because it was written in a script used in ancient times there.
However, another expert has urged caution. Bible scholar Ben Witherington III, a professor and author who teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, said the document follows the pattern of Gnostic (early Christian) of the Second, Third and Fourth centuries, using “the language of intimacy to talk about spiritual relationships”.
(Source: 964eagle, AP)