Friday, April 11, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife

The recent discovery of the ancient Coptic manuscript purporting to Jesus speaking of his wife has rocked the world of both archeology and gynotheology. A team of scientists has concluded that the fragment, a mere 1 1/2" x 3 3/4" containing 33 words, is not a modern forgery.

Radiocarbon tests conducted at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology produced an origination date for the papyrus of 659-859 CE, according to Harvard. MIT also studied the chemical composition of the papyrus and patterns of oxidation.

Dr. Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School historian,  first announced the existence of the fragment in September 2012, at the International Coptic Congress in Rome, where she dubbed it "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife." Prof. King cautioned, that this miniscule fragment does not prove conclusively that Jesus was married.  Mr. Myron Leibermann, a junior account executive at Publicistas who are actively pursuing the branding rights for this product, concurred: "Sure we know that this little scrap proves nothing, but we think "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" is a pretty sexy title for it --- you're only as good as the publicity you can generate. That's what makes coin!"

According to Dr. King, "This gospel fragment provides a reason to reconsider what we thought we knew by asking what the role claims of Jesus's marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family," King said.  She did not elaborate on how a fragmentary scrape from over six hundred years after Jesus lived, and well into the late Byzantine age when Christianity was already doctrinally solidified by the Great Ecumenical Councils, could given any reason for calling into question what the Church had long established.

"This papyrus apparently dates circa the Second Council of Nicaea (787 AD), at which point the Church was speaking to more mundane matters like whether Jesus could be depicted on icons, in response to the Iconoclastic Controversy under Emperor Leo III.  There is no evidence that any such debates were occurring among the orthodox catholic churches at the time this fragment dates, nor any time previously, except for bizarre gnostic sects like the Montanists and the author of the spurious Gospel of Philip", said Billy Chandler, a local area high school senior at Our Lady of Critical Thinking Catholic High School, who displayed a better grasp of early Christianity than the Harvard professor. 

Inexplicably, Dr, King opined: "The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus—a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued."

Other scholars point to the many examples of women who followed Jesus, were mothers and wives, served in the Church in caring for widows and orphans, opened their houses for early Christian worship and community, assisted to baptize women at the time when baptisms were in the nude, and even underwent torture and martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel. "Hotly debated?  pfffft.... Hasn't she read the acts of Perpetua and Felicity? Perpetua was a married noblewoman with a suckling baby, and Felicity was pregnant at the time... which raises some questions about the conditions of their respective hymens", stated Dr. Jean Bolland, who holds the Delehaye Chair in Hagiography.

A careful study of the 7th to 9th century Coptic papyrus, read in the context of other ancient papyri troves such as  from Nag Hammadi and Oyxrhynchus, give a decidedly different possible explanation of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife.

Dr. Benjamin Bell, a world renown papyrologist specializing in ancient Jewish humor in the middle Nile region, suggested that, "This is a wonderful rare find, a real treasure for us all.  Little is known about Jewish life in Egypt during the late Classical period apart from a few papryi. The persecutions under the goyim left the Jewish communities impoverished and tight-knit, but at least they retained their sense of humor. Based on the hand writing style this fragment appears to have come from the hills outside of Koptos where there was a thriving Jewish community in the late Byzantine age that specialized in self deprecating jokes".

Dr. Benjamin Bell, world renowned Egyptologist and specialist in ancient Jewish humor

Prof. Bell compared this to other ancient manuscripts, and suggested that this was a script from a precursor to the later Borscht Belt comedians. "The missing parts are contextually reclaimable:  "Jesus said to them, ' [take] my wife, [please]  ... [gevalt!] She will also be my disciple [? I was just looking for a date and a little hanky panky!]" 

Another interesting passage seems to be an early form of the old Semitic joke, "Let the wicked people swell up... [like the armpits infested by the fleas of a thousand camels]".   Dr. Bell suggested that the partial "my moth.." probably refers to another regional schtick, "[Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took] my moth[er-in-law to Cairo]".

Prof. Bell also pointed out  that other parts of the fragment appear to include the partial phrase: "I'll be [here all week, try the veal]" and "D[on't forget to tip your waite]r."  He indicated that a lot of Byzantine-era standup comics often stole material from each other, as evinced by the 5th century text from Schlomo the Pseudo-Goniff.  "But its all comedy gold," asserted Dr. Bell, "GOLD!".

No comments:

Post a Comment