Image of ancient text

Perhaps you’ve seen the recent reports regarding Harvard University Christian history professor Dr. Karen King, and her unveiling of a tiny piece of 4th century Coptic papyrus which quotes Jesus speaking of his wife.

Now these sorts of things pop up from time to time, and who knows if what they document is actual fact, or even precisely what the term “wife” may have meant for a first or fourth century itinerant rabbi. Still, I find it intriguing to consider the possibility of a Mrs. Jesus, not just for the Dan Brown-eque messianic bloodline, but for the woman herself, and for Jesus’ sake.

If you’ve never read Kazantzakis’ brilliant, tender 1953 novel The Last Temptation of Christ, I can’t recommend it enough. In it, Jesus on the cross has flashed before him what might have been had he married, settled down and raised a family instead of charging headlong into his ministry — mounting bold, public opposition to the religious, social, and political leaders of his day, ultimately to a tortured death (well, not ultimately, but that’s a story for another day…). Avoid the 1988 movie, which made a poorly acted and worse edited hash of it all. Check out that book!

I like the idea of Jesus having known wedded bliss, home and hearth. For example, I love the thought of his spouse serving a delicious meal and beaming with love and pride when he takes pleasure in it. I prefer the idea of the Son of Man having a place to lay his head. And, no, I have no problem with Jesus taking part in any other element of marriage. I have always cherished the fully human Christ. I relate to him best. I rely on him most.

I know some folks need a much higher christology. I don’t begrudge that in the least. But for me, the greatest power of the greatest story ever told is that whole idea of the messiah pitching a tent among us as one of us: living in a real body in the real world. I acknowledge the “super”but gravitate to the “natural.”

Maybe it comes down to my faith in humanity and myself. I’ve never managed it, but I believe here and there we could probably find people who come very close to living the ideal provided by Jesus. As I strive to move closer to him myself, it is some comfort to think of him showing up closer to me than expected, too.

What do you think about a Mrs. Jesus?

Draw near to God and God will draw near to you. — James 4:8

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