Excerpts of Harvard professor identifies scrap of papyrus suggesting some early Christians believed Jesus was married By Lisa Wangsness, Boston Globe. (Note some early Mormon leaders taught that Jesus was married)
A Harvard professor has identified what appears to be a scrap of fourth century Egyptian papyrus that contains the first known explicit reference to Jesus as married, a discovery that could fuel the millennia-old debate about priestly celibacy in the Catholic church.
The fragment, which has been preliminarily authenticated but still must undergo further testing, portrays Jesus as referring to a woman as his legitimate disciple -- most likely his wife, whom the text's author probably believed to be Mary Magdalene.
The fragment is smaller than a business card, and appears to have been torn from the middle of a page of a codex, or primitive book, written in a southern Egyptian dialect. Its owner, who declines to be identified publicly, does not know where it was found.The text is not evidence Jesus was married, said the professor, Karen L. King, a historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, But she said it may cast new light on the history of early Christianity, including the formation of Christian views of celibacy and whether women were members of Jesus's inner circle.
It contains just eight broken lines, scrawled in a crude Coptic hand.
The fourth says: "… Jesus said to them, 'My wife…."
The next line reads: "…she will be able to be my disciple."
"The entire question about whether Jesus was married or not first arose only 150 years after Jesus died in the context of Christians discussing ... whether Christians should marry or remain celibate," she said. "And that's interesting."
The fragment appears to underscore the diversity of Christian ideas about Jesus's life when the faith was still in its infancy, before the books of the New Testament had been canonized and religious councils convened to resolve differences over beliefs.