First, check out his article here.
A couple of points I’d like to express. First, Boyle sorta misses the boat with the Gospel of Judas connection. It has been debunked – and shares a connection with King. No doubt, King is an apt scholar, as Mark Goodacre as pointed out; however, her tendencies are like those of Elaine Pagels – very, very esoteric. Her reading of the Gospel of Judas is awful. And, her identification of every group as “Christian” is hardly accurate.
The Gnostics – whom Boyle points out as connected to the idea of a higher role for women – were hardly Christians, but predated Christianity. They, like the orthodox Christians, had their own ideological drives. This scrap of paper, even if it is authentic and can be dated to the fourth century, is hardly authentic in relation to the Historical Jesus. All this does is show us that in Egypt, the Gnostics still carried some weight, still taught of Mary and Sophia.
King has suggested that this better relates to the struggle of women in the early Church. While this struggle is real, it is hardly the struggle predominating the fourth century. Does anyone remember the period between 325 and 381? You have to remember that this was a time of Roman dominance of Christianity. It was not until later that the role of women in the Church came under fire. Read the canons of the synods and councils post 381. And Ehrman… oh Bart… He is following the same hunting trail as King.
What may be a better explanation is that the scrap of paper is from a Greek original, translated into Coptic, with the translator, as they often do, changing the outcome. So, it goes it from woman to wife. See 1 Corinthians 9.5 and the varied history of that verse, especially in the Aramaic.
Would it matter if Jesus had a wife? Not to me, but what does matter is good scholarship, and not the speculations we are seeing now. King should have stopped at releasing her paper sans speculation. This is not Jesus’ marriage certificate, but a piece of paper suffering bad translation, or perhaps, a part of a larger piece of an anti-Gnostic text (less likely, but still…)
One other thing. It is more than disingenuous to have called this the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. While this may have been a play on words (Hey, everybody, Jesus had a wife, good news!), it is misleading and allows others to invest into the document an authority not inherently present. A Gospel is not a piece of paper – and yes, we can say this because we know what a Gospel is (see Mark).
- Jesus said to them, “My wife…” (alanrudnick.org)
- Jesus cites wife in fourth-century script, says US scholar (guardian.co.uk)
- Ancient fragment suggests Jesus Christ may have been married (kdvr.com)
- Newly revealed Coptic fragment has Jesus making reference to ‘my wife’ (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
- Jesus talks about his ‘wife’ in ancient script: Harvard historian (ctvnews.ca)
- Ancient papyrus reveals early Christian belief that Jesus was married (telegraph.co.uk)
- Was Jesus married? (southofheaven.typepad.com)