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Yesterday and today we learnt of some revelation that Jesus Christ was married. This despite any Biblical proof or the overwhelming body of authoritative teaching that He never married. Or did we?

It all started with the conclusions of Dr. Karen King about a small piece of 4th century papyrus which seems to feature a text in which Jesus speaks of His wife. Various media outlets have grabbed on to this to announce that Dr. King had presented evidence that Jesus was married. But the fact is that she did no such thing.

A reading of the outline of her work shows that she limits her conclusions to the existence of some debate in the fourth century about the marital status of Christ:

“Does this fragment constitute evidence that Jesus was married? In our opinion, the late date of the Coptic papyrus (c. fourth century), and even of the possible date of composition in the second half of the second century, argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus.”

The fact that there was debate and that differing opinions and belief existed, even in the first centuries of the Church, should be no surprise.  But debate does not validate certain ideas, it doesn’t make them somehow true. And this research does not come out in favour for or against a single idea; it merely describes the contents of the shred of papyrus and draws conclusions from it. Not conclusions about Jesus, but about what certain people wrote about Him several centuries after His death and resurrection.

But would it matter if Jesus was married? The validity of His teachings would certainly not change, but our sense of His historical presence among us would. It would also raise questions. For example, who was His wife, and where did she go? We still venerate His mother and His twelve closest Apostles are rightly considered saints, as are many of His other contemporaries, not least His foster father. Why would His theoretical wife be missing among these?

Christ was not hostile to marriage. He would have had no reason to hide a marriage. The fact that He, and His contemporaries as well, have never claimed that Christ was married would indicate that He wasn’t. We know where and how Christ was born and died, we know where He lived, we know about His social interactions and His reputation among the people, but His marriage would have remained a closely kept secret? That doesn’t make much sense.

And, returning to Dr. King’s work, it seems that debates about this supposed marriage of Christ and some unknown woman flow forth from ideas about the ideal way of life (celibacy or marriage), and not from any lost knowledge.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?

Copyright

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Netherlands License.

The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin, Katholiek.nl, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

IN PROGRESS

[Dutch] Internationale Theologencommissie - Sensus Fidei in het Leven van de Kerk.

30 June: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Boodschap voor het Katholieke Jongerenfestival.

19 June: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Interview in La Vanguardia.

18 May: [English] Pietro Cardinal Parolin - Homily at the consecration of Archbishop van Megen.

15 May: [English] Ane Hähnig - Interview with Michael Triegel.

3 May: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Boodschap voor de Wereldgebedsdag voor Roepingen 2014.

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Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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