LAST month, a professor of Divinity from Harvard University published the results of her analysis of a piece of parchment from the 4th century which purported to bear the words ‘Jesus said to them “My wife…”, offering evidence that, contrary to commonly held beliefs, Jesus was married.
The find has provoked considerable comment and some good humoured one-liners, my favourite being a report that Jesus created the “Take my wife…” joke!
The find has produced a slew of questions. Is the document genuine? Was Jesus married? Who was his wife? Were there any children? Does this change anything about what we believe? Does it really matter? The story will develop and I am sure will attract many more column inches in the weeks and months to come.
There is one aspect of it that I find particularly interesting and that is that there is an inbuilt assumption that the person of Jesus actually existed!
None of the reports that I have read have suggested that he was fictional which would make the “did he marry?” question irrelevant. The accepted view is that the person of Jesus had existed on earth, the real debate is about who he was.
The issue about who Jesus was is nothing new. Indeed Jesus once asked his closest companions who people thought he was. The responses were also interesting, with the common view being that he was someone who was long dead, perhaps one of the Old Testament prophets, who had returned in a new form.
But the disciple known as Simon Peter got it right. He realised that Jesus wasn’t from the past but was for the present. “You ARE the Chosen One”, he said in reply to Jesus’ question in Mark 8.
This is the essence of what Christians believe. That Jesus is not consigned to history, irrelevance or fable. Irrespective if Jesus was married or not, he is a living presence now for all who believe. He is someone who inspires, makes a difference, who renews and calls us to follow. Someone to get hitched to?
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Weather for Selby
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west