OMG! Jesus had a wife?
A highly regarded Harvard theological historian has introduced a tiny scrap of papyrus from the fourth century — judged to be authentic — on which are written the words, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife….'"
Also written there is: "she will be able to be my disciple."
Karen L. King presented her findings in Rome last week, and some of the underpinnings of the Roman Catholic Church are swaying a bit: that Jesus was celibate as a demonstration of his commitment to God and had no female disciples. Therefore, only unmarried men may be ordained priests.
This might only be evidence of the debate raging at that time over whether Jesus had been married and whether Mary Magdalene was an official disciple. As skeptics have pointed out, the Gospels were written much closer to the Crucifixion and, although they made mention of brothers and sisters, there was never any mention of a wife.
Ms. King asked, only half joking, that her historic finding not be taken as proof that Dan Brown, author of "The Da Vinci Code," was on to something — but it charges the imagination, nonetheless.
What if there was a Mrs. Jesus? Or a Ms. Jesus? Or a Ms. Magdalene? Or a woman forced to settle for the humiliating title of Mary, wife of Jesus?
Can you imagine the reality TV show that might star this megawatt couple?
Did they meet on "The Bachelor?" Did he give her the final rose? Was their wedding a three-hour special on E! network? Did she melt down on camera and say regrettable things about her "so-called perfect" mother-in-law? "You'd think she gave birth to the son of God, for heaven's sake!"
She'd no doubt be the reason he got out of carpentry. Honest work, sure, but not exactly high-profile. If they were living today, I bet she'd want him to launch an Internet start-up or a hedge fund and use the proceeds for an international campaign to cure, say, malaria and make his name that way.
I am wondering how she reacted when he brought home all those dusty disciples, smelling of fish, every night for dinner. "Really, Jesus? Where did you find these guys?"
Or if she got really bitchy about all his trips out of town with his adoring entourage. "God. They all think he walks on water!"
There'd be an up-side, of course, especially if you hadn't made it to the wine shop that day. "Honey? Can you miracle me up a nice little Chardonnay?"
But I see jealousy, too. "Jesus! I've seen your texts to Mary Magdalene! You said it was over. And, my god, she's a hooker! Do you want her on your resume? You might actually decide to run for president some day, you know. "
Eventually, she'd want to edit his message. She'd be skeptical of his big talk about eternal life and she'd try to convince him that only nasty photos posted by your ex live forever — on the Internet.
She'd be unhappy about all the time he was spending away from home and wonder when he was going to find time for his own kids — though there is no hint on that business-card-sized bit of papyrus that they had any. (Another source of marital friction? Good for a third season, certainly.)
I don't know. All of this speculation only further convinces me that Jesus did not get married, and not just because no woman would have been good enough for his mother. If your heart and soul tell you that your mission in life is to preach love and show love, a fractious home life isn't going to send you out the door with a light step.
Better just to live with mom, who thinks you're perfect and likes all your friends and makes loaves and fishes for everybody whenever you need her to.
And, yes, I know how much trouble I am in for this column. I've already put in a call to Salman Rushdie.
Susan Reimer's column appears Mondays and Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SusanReimer.