Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Media Hype Scrap of Papyrus Claiming Jesus Had a Wife | Media Research Center

The following excerpts are from Media Research Center:
  • Does one fragment of papyrus “about the size of a small cellphone” contradict centuries of Christian tradition that hold that Jesus was not married? The credulous news media seem to think so – they are publishing stories with titles: “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,’ “New Early Christian Text, Indicates Jesus May Have Been Married.”
  • The New York Times reported that a scrap of papyrus “smaller than a business card,” translated by Harvard professor Karen King, includes this phrase: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’” The rest of the papyrus was cut off – but it was apparently enough for media outlets. CNN’s Belief Blog, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and numerous other outlets blared headlines questioning Jesus’ marital status, including: “Text Reignites Debate: Did Jesus have a Wife?”
  • These outlets downplayed the fact that the papyrus fragment in question (which some scholars have questioned the authenticity of), in King’s judgment, dates from the 4th century, and that Jesus lived in the 1st century. They also failed to mention that there are several places in the New Testament where the church is referred to as the bride of Christ.
  • Despite these inconvenient facts, media outlets trumpeted the fragment, which King brazenly called “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” The Washington Post’s Jeannine Hunter wrote: “The news reignited debate about scholarship focused on Jesus’s marital status and the veracity of early church documents.” The Huffington Post’s Jaweed Kaleem went even further, speculating: “A discovery by a Harvard researcher may shed light on a controversial aspect of the life of Jesus Christ.”
  • The New York Times reported King’s words: “This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married. There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”
  • But King appears to be confusing orthodox Christianity with Gnosticism, a loosely related group of sects which predated Christianity, fought against early Christians, and taught that “secret” knowledge was necessary for salvation. King failed to note that sects of Gnostics were the opponents of the institution of marriage, not Christians.
  • King’s conflation of early Christianity and Gnosticism is unsurprising, given the fact that her areas of expertise are heterodox forms of Christianity and “gender studies.” Her bio on the Harvard website states that “Her particular theoretical interests are in discourses of normativity (orthodoxy and heresy), gender studies, and religion and violence.”
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Media Hype Scrap of Papyrus Claiming Jesus Had a Wife | Media Research Center


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