Jesus Had a Wife?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Rex, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you understand the nature of scholarship in antiquity. Unlike today, histories weren't composed during or immediately after (in the modern sense) they took place. People's living memories of events preceded the need for such a thing, and writing of any sort, but particularly scholarly histories, were extraordinary undertakings back then.

    So you would expect a history of that time period to be published when it was. If it was written significantly earlier, it would actually call into question the credibility of the work.

    Tacitus wrote disparagingly of Christians and Jesus, so the idea that he would shill for them by only republishing sectarian documents defies credulity. Further, he is known to have consulted Roman archives for the basis of his work.

    But more than that, there is the plethora of writings circulating from very early. We have epistles dated to within 20 years of Jesus' death, and numerous polemical writings that follow during that first century. But in none of the polemical writings is the argument ever made that Jesus didn't exist. So what that would mean is during the time when people were alive that would have witnessed the events in question, the debate was over the nature of Jesus' teachings and the behavior of his followers--never that he didn't exist. Given the heated nature of these debates, it defies logic that the strongest argument that could be used to delegitimize the opposition (that the object of worship by Christians never even existed) was neglected by every polemical writer in antiquity.

    Couple that with cross-referencing data mentioned in these early documents to other writings and annals, and the weight of evidence is clear. Then there are developmental chronologies which conform to a Jesus event around 30 CE, etc.

    Obviously all of the above is cursory and I'm speaking in broad strokes, but all I can tell you is if you actually did research in this area in the original languages, it's really not a matter of debate. Even non-theist biblical scholars will say the existence of Jesus isn't a matter of contention (eg. Bart Ehrman).

    Fwiw, the writings of Tacitus are far more compelling evidence than Josephus IMO. And that's not just me, but the scholarly consensus as well.
  2. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Googled Bart Ehrman and found this interview:

    Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman supports the historic existence of Jesus


  3. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Not so much. It is rather based on Paul's assertion that giving up marriage for the service of the gospel is ideal.

    From I Corinthians:

    "But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I." (i.e. not married)

    Later in the same passage: " But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord;"

    Additionally, Jesus suggested, as recorded in the Gospels, that a true disciple would give up family. From Luke:

    "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
  4. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    I thought Ehrman identified as non-theist at a debate awhile back, but if he claims agnosticism now, fine and dandy.

    Thanks for the link btw :)
  5. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    It was more of a debate among early theologians which has become canon in later versions of the Bible and Church history. Early Christian church history is intimately involved with the changing political landscape of Europe and the near East (Constantinople vs Rome as it were) and the celibacy of Christ and consequently the priesthood were part of this debate. I forget which Edict formally declared priests could not marry, but this was more of a means of controlling church lands and funds so a wealthy bishop could not pass lands on to his sons. You cannot separate the entire first millennium of church doctrine from the sociopolitical environment in which it was constructed.

    Many early religious texts were discarded or re-interpreted if they did not support a certain political agenda.

    I have a friend who did his dissertation on the cult of St. Michael in the 3rd and 4th centuries and how it evolved in regard to the political changes happening in Europe.

    So, this debate regarding Mary Magdalene and her role isn't new. It's just that the papyrus may provide support for the role of wife. It won't change any doctrine because even though it does appear to be of an appropriate age, it is such a small fragment of a larger document, it will be interpreted to mean what the reader already thinks. Those who think she played a more important role, including being a sexual partner, will cite it as supporting data; those who do not will interpret the text as meaning something else.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  6. euterpe

    euterpe Well-Known Member

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    In some branches of Catholicism, married priests are permitted. For example, the Russian Catholic church permits married priests---but they must be married before they are ordained.

    Therefore, it is not a theologic doctrine that is the basis of celibate priests.
  7. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    This is true. And even in the Roman rite, exceptions are made. There are Anglican and Episcopal priests who have converted and been ordained as Roman Catholic priests even though they are already married.
  8. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    So, really ... just like the Bible. :slinkaway

    (never mind the "slinkaway" one, I think I might need a "ducking lightning bolts" emoticon here ...)
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  9. heckles

    heckles Well-Known Member

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    Hey, why think small and debate whether Jesus had "a" wife, in the singular? Mitt's religion portrays Jesus as a man-whore who had at least three wives, with whom he bred like a cockroach. Jumpin' J.C. be pimpin'!
  10. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    You mean the Russian Orthodox Church, right?
  11. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    I assumed the post referred to Eastern Rite Catholics. They are not Russian Orthodox and are affiliated with the Roman/Latin Rite.
  12. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I've heard this before. It makes sense. It kept the wealth in the Church. If I am remembering correctly, the wealthy clergy gave up their family possessions to the Church.
  13. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

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    I am absolutely NOT an expert on any of this. I was raised as a Catholic, and converted to Judaism.

    The quote from the Gospel of Matthew is accurate, however, it was written 70 years after Jesus died. So any "quotes" of what Jesus said or didn't say are really memories. And frankly, could be considered as political writings.......designed by various people to put forward a point of view.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Matthew

    And, just to add from my personal perspective. I (personally) believe that the Bible was written by G-d.............and I accept what it says as true. AND, I know that is a decision on my part, and is neither right or wrong, or provable one way or the other. And, I do ridiculous things like observe the Laws of Kashrut..........just 'cause. I don't think any religion is right or wrong. I suppose Jesus lived. (I sort of don't have a dog in that fight, so to speak). But I also think that most of "what he said" is what others say he said. Is it divinely inspired? Who knows? No one.

    I have this conversation about G-d and believing in G-d all the time with my husband. He does not believe in G-d. But I don't see any real logic in either position. Either is a leap of faith. Oh, maybe that is why it is all called "faith" :eek:
  14. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    Could be.
  15. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Yes. Another example of documents describing historical events after the fact are the Soto chronicles describing the Soto expedition through the southeast. All four chronicles were written well after the fact and only one is purported to have been written by someone who was actually on the expedition. The Spanish crown deemed the expedition a failure in that no gold was recovered and half the expedition died; therefore, no official history was written. Archaeologists who work in the SE consider the documents to be of interest, but not necessarily factual unless events are supported by other forms of data including the archaeological record. Biblical archaeology does much the same thing in Israel, Jordan and other regions mentioned in the Bible. There is evidence to support some historical events described in the Bible. There is nothing to indicate that Jesus was not a real person. Faith is what elevates him to a spiritual being.
  16. liv

    liv Well-Known Member

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    This is why I am not a firm believer of any one religion. There are so many angles, beliefs, so many writings that either do or do not make up a religion (and some that haven't been discovered or are lost) and I find it impossible to say that one is any more true than another. Much has been decided by the people in positions of power at different times who were not infallible. I guess I don't have faith in them as opposed to faith in G-d.
  17. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    How patronizing. And presumptuous. And given that you were just recently lambasted in another thread for just that sort of attitude, it's disappointing that you didn't take the criticism to heart before you submitted that post.

    I know. My History class in ninth grade covered that as well.

    There are other possible sources besides histories such as Tacitus and Josephus wrote, as I am sure you know.

    I never said he was shilling for them or republishing sectarian documents. If you inferred it, it's because you are pursuing your own agenda rather than reading in a detached manner. As far as I can tell, you do that a lot.

    But what did he find there? What documents did he rely on?

    Modern historical scholarship requires something more than an unsourced statement about something that happened decades previously in a distant land, which is all that Tacitus offers.

    Again, the writings of people who believed that Jesus was the son of God are hardly objective sources to establish that even the earliest texts (which vary in their details) refer to one specific historical person.

    It's pointless to talk about how there is no contemporary source stating that Jesus did not exist. The issue framed upthread is whether there is evidence that he did. And all of the early evidence on that point is either (1) written by people who believed he was the son of God or (2) from close to a century after his ostensible death and unsourced.
    cholla and (deleted member) like this.
  18. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    The interview I posted with Bart Ehrman says basically the same thing agalisgv did, that scholars believe Jesus was an historical person. If you disagree with the scholarly consensus, Vagabond, maybe you could say more about why? Why do you think mainstream scholarship is wrong on this?
  19. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    why is lacking a belief in God a leap of faith? :confused:
  20. Simone411

    Simone411 aka IceSkate98

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    I had seen this on the news today.

    There were several books left out or dismissed from the King James Version of the bible like The Gospel of Mary because of authenticity.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelmary.html

    The lost books from the Dead Sea Scrolls are other examples due to whether they were authentic or not. I'm referring to the carbon dating of the scrolls.

    There are several other books, gospels, that were also dismissed or left out, especially a collection referred to as the Apocrypha.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/index.html

    The total list of the ancient New Testament Apocrypha is found here

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/apocrypha.html

    And here:

    http://www.interfaith.org/christianity/apocrypha/

    Another book is The Book of Jubilees:

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/jub/index.htm
  21. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    From BR's link of Ehrman:
    So just to reiterate, there are no accepted scholars in the field who contest the existence of Jesus as a historical figure--none. These are not religious adherents, but rather scholars fluent in the many source languages and history of antiquity, are expert hermeneuticists who have studied the literature and archaeological data of that era on an extraordinarily detailed level, and where the scholarly consensus has remained constant over time on this issue (it's probably the only issue for which there is such broad based agreement).

    In contrast, figures like David and Solomon are not considered to have existed by many scholars. Ditto with several other figures. So it's not like scholars aren't willing to contest some major things. But the historical evidence for Jesus is just too strong to be reasonably contested.

    And just to speak plainly, scholars would consider mythicists to be whackadoodles on par with fundamentalists who believe the world is only 6,000 years old. It's that fringe and that unsupported by evidence.
  22. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    Because there is no record of a man name Pontius Pilate crucifying a man named Jesus. To me, that's huge.
  23. Simone411

    Simone411 aka IceSkate98

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  24. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Actually there is a record of Jesus' crucifixion by order of Pilate in Tacitus' Annals.

    Here's Ehrman describing in an interview the breadth of scholarly consensus on this issue and why.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPvbQsJHY-w&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Eta: the vid was posted by a theist rather contemptuous of mon-theists, so please ignore the opening screed.
  25. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    Tacitus' Annals were not written contemporary to Jesus's supposed crucifixion. The Romans were kick-ass record keepers. They kept records of EVERYTHING. And many of those records are still around. Yet none of them mention any of the stuff that supposedly happened to Jesus and his family. There is no record of Joseph & Mary in the census they were going to when Jesus was born, no record of Jesus' crucifixion, etc., etc.

    I find that suspicious and none of the defenses of Jesus as an historical person address these gaps in a way I find convincing.
  26. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    I think believers believe that non-believers come to their opinions the same way they do. With the usual retort being, it's not a leap of faith not to believe in the Easter bunny.
  27. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    Could you please comment on whether there is any academic consensus or any seriously considered evidence of Jesus' wife?
    Rex and (deleted member) like this.
  28. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    There isn't enough evidence to develop a consensus view re: Jesus' wife, and I can't think of a scholar that would disagree with that. Scholars don't typically set out to make a consensus view, but rather to point to credible possibilities within a text.

    I've posted about arguments in favor of Jesus being married before, so people can look that up if they're interested. The most well-known proponent of such views has been John Shelby Spong. His arguments are credible, but not compelling. By that I mean they are intellectually sound arguments, but are of insufficient scope to dispel other possibilities.

    The main issue with this fragment appears to be whether it's authentic or not. I've only looked at transcriptions of the Coptic, but the Coptic word used for wife here is pretty unambiguous (there's another related term in Coptic which can be used for wife, but which also has other meanings. That more ambiguous term wasn't used here though).

    Anyhow, King was rightly careful to say this doesn't prove anything about Jesus being married. But it does point to the contestation over celibacy in the early church, and potentially the status and role of women in that. If the fragment is genuine (and sadly there are a lot of forgeries out there, so this is a real concern), I find interesting that this is proof of a definite oral tradition related to Jesus potentially being married. We've seen possible indications of that from a rhetorical analysis of early polemical writings, but to have the actual text in hand is of course incredibly exciting :).
  29. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps you could give us the names and locations of these extant records that cover that specific time and geographic area.

    And if your response is you can't do that because you aren't a specialist, then maybe listen to actual specialists in the field when they tell you you are wrong about the historical data, what is proper attestation in antiquity and why, and what is currently extant or not.

    Then ask yourself if you also question the existence of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Judas Maccabeus, Pontius Pilate, Hillel, the Baal Shem Tov, etc. Because if you don't, there is less historical attestation for those figures than there is for Jesus. So ask yourself why that doesn't bother you and why you trust historians then, but not with Jesus?
  30. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    I think its interesting to look at what we can know and how about the distant past. I don't know much about the subject but I've also not encountered the claim that there is not enough evidence of Jesus' historical existence in anything serious which I've read. The only place I've seen that is in little advertisements in the back pages of skeptic magazines for self-published books that say something like "Jesus Fictional!"

    So encountering the suggestion here piqued my interest enough to look around the internet. That search certainly leads me to the opinion that scholars in the field do feel that there is enough evidence of the historical existence of Jesus.

    There are a couple of extensive articles in Wikipedia:

    Historicity of Jesus

    The notes to this contain quotes from several more scholars besides Bart Ehrman. For instance:

    Historical Jesus

    Its pretty interesting stuff in terms of knowledge of the past and what we can know.
  31. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    But, that does not mean that the Romans were capable of keeping record of everything. It makes sense that they could be "kick-ass" keeping records within the cities. But in rural areas, not so much. People traveling, a woman giving birth in the barn of an inn, very possible that the birth was not recorded. It is also possible, that because the Romans wanted to remove themselves from responsibility for the death of Jesus, the records for Jesus' crucifixion were destroyed. Just suggesting that there could be any number of reasons for why certain "facts" are not recorded. We simply don't know. That is what faith is about. I do believe that Jesus existed as a man. Whether or not he had a wife, I don't know. But, it certainly would not bother me to know that he did.

    As to the earthquake, there seems to be some geological proof that there was earthquake activity in the area, at the appropriate time: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4755598...crucifixion-researchers-believe/#.UFsZpULle-I
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  32. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't at least some of the records kept by the Roman government been destroyed either by war or old age?
  33. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    That is another very good possibility. We cannot state with any certainty that the records did not exist at some time. They could have, and have been lost or destroyed, accidentally or intentionally. And, as good as the Romans may have been at keeping records, they had to have missed a lot.
  34. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

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    Nero's Great Fire did a lot of damage to Rome, as did numerous other fires, riots, and the sheer incompetience of the very human record keepers.
  35. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    We should also remember that parts of Rome (especially the Forum area) were effected by flooding from the Tiber River. Sediment would cover areas and raise the ground level. As buildings were damaged and the ground level rose, the people just leveled buildings and build on top of what existed. There are layers of "city" in Rome. Not all of it is excavated.
  36. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    As a non-theist I agree with agal. I'm an amateur reader of many books about the birth of Christianity and the early relationships between the nascent Christians, Jewish leadership, Hellenist thinkers and so on. And whereas I certainly don't believe Jesus was the son of god, the evidence that he existed historically is pretty overwhelming.

    IIRC, scholars postulate that the synoptic Gospels were sourced to an original document (known as the Q document) that was contemporary with Jesus. But I studied this many years ago and don't know if that's still the consensus.

    What IS evident in the gospels is the beginning of the struggle to differentiate Christianity from its Jewish roots, providing fodder for 2000 years of antisemitism by those who didn't see the argument in historical context. Pharisees, for example, were just thought-leaders who were not of the priestly caste, but the designation came to be negative because of how it was used in the New Testament.

    The New Testament is responsible for a lot more Jewish suffering than the Koran is, ironically enough.
  37. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    So the fires (and human incompetence) managed to destroy every piece of evidence that Jesus existed but not every piece of evidence that other historical figures existed? That reminds me of the arguments of the Italian police that Amanda Knox was able to destroy only her DNA in her apartment.

    And the argument that Jesus' crucifixion was such a political hot potato that it would be destroyed always amuses me because it presumes he was a much more important figure than he actually was at the time.
  38. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    MacMadame, why do you think most scholars in the field believe Jesus did exist historically, if you think it is clear that evidence for that does not exist? (I'm asking this seriously not snarkily.)
  39. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Here's Ehrman addressing some of the misperceptions behind MacMadame's argument:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/04/03/did-jesus-exist-bart-ehrman_n_1400465.html

    And the following is a compendium of views from top biblical scholars around the world re: the existence of Jesus.
    http://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/quotes-on-the-existence-jesus/

    People can believe what they want obviously, but arguing for the non-existence of Jesus is the intellectual equivalent of birtherism. Personally I wouldn't want to be associated with something that ignorant, but it's a free country and all that.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  40. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    I have always wondered how Christian antisemites reconciled the notion with their belief in Jesus. "They killed OUR Jesus!" was/is the popular accusation. Do people ever stop and think that Jesus was a Jew or does it fall by the wayside?

    Whoa, wait a minute:
    :confused:
    Thanks for the post, ag. Please please elaborate on the first and last sentences. What does he mean by "resurrection experiences" and why exactly is that a fact?
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012