Sep 20, 2012

Did Jesus have a wife? A Cambridge scholar sheds light on new claims

Reading some of the media output of the last 24 hours and you’d be forgiven for thinking a new ‘gospel’ had been discovered shedding light on the life of Jesus and challenging our traditional understanding of him. Let me assure you that no such document has been found.

Quite simply the only ‘gospels’ in existence that tell us anything about the real Jesus come from those very early gospels of the New Testament that were all written within the lifetime of the eye-witnesses of the events of his life. True, many other gospels were penned from the 2nd century onwards all by those who never knew Jesus.  These gospels don’t tell us anything about Jesus although they are useful in the study of the development of  ‘chrisitan’ groups and the development in particular of a christian gnosticism.

Bart Ehrmann (no friend of evangelical Christians) writes:

The oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus – are the four gospels of the New Testament.  This is not simply the view of Christian historians; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity of every kind, from committed evangelical Christians to hardcore atheists.  This view is not, in other words, a biased perspective of only a few naïve wishful thinkers; it is the conclusion that has been reached by every one of the hundreds (thousands, even) of scholars who work on the problem of establishing what really happened in the life of the historical Jesus.

Ehrman concludes:

We may wish there were other, more reliable sources, but ultimately it is the sources within the cannon (that is the four gospels in the Bible) that provide us with the most and the best, information.

Simon Gathercole,a leading expert at Cambridge University, has written this compelling response to those who wish to find a whole lot more than really exists in this new discovery.

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