We have no idea if Jesus Christ — the most important figure in Christianity — had a wife, and we’re certainly not hazarding a guess in our editorial pages. However, the discovery of ancient papyrus that says, in ancient Coptic language, "Jesus said to them, my wife," is fascinating. It’s a positive to see discoveries such as the papyrus because it promotes inquiry into the origins, history, and theologies of religion, and not just Christianity. Too often inquiry into religion is restricted, or disliked by adherents of different faiths.
Knowledge should always be a positive, and we can’t see any negatives in the finding of an important historical document that will spark more interest and scholarship.
At its most extreme level, satire or the mere image of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, has sparked riots and death in parts of the world. Although not tainted by violence, artistic interpretations of Christ, including a picture of the Virgin Mary created with elephant dung, and Piss Christ, a photo of a crucifix in urine, have been harshly denounced. Some Mormons have been upset by the spoofing of their faith in the Broadway comedy, "The Book of Mormon."
Debates over whether Jesus Christ had a wife may be distasteful to many people of faith. However, a further discussion of the papyrus discovery, presented by Harvard Professor Karen King, reveals that the ancient text, written about 350 years after Christ’s death, is far from conclusive evidence that Christ indeed had a wife.
What the papyrus find — which is likely part of an apocryphal Gospel of that era — does is provide an interesting nugget of history that should provide more interest and inquiry into the history of Christianity and what the early followers of Christianity believed.
A person’s individual faith, in many cases, will include a suspension of earthly reality to accept a miracle or something "divine." These beliefs, while appropriate within worship ceremonies, should never inhibit the pursuit of knowledge.