“Jesus said to them: ‘My wife…’” The text on an antique papyrus fragment has caused a great stir all over the world. Was the man married?


At a conference in Rome in September of 2012, a unique papyrus find was presented for the first time. The find attracted a lot of attention, since the text on the fragment implied that Jesus was married. Analyses also revealed that the document was in all probability authentic and not a contemporary copy.

One of the people who examined the text on the small piece of papyrus and translated it into Swedish was Mid Sweden University’s researcher and historian of religion Jörgen Magnusson.

– This is an early testimony that at least one group of Christians believed that Jesus was married. Whether or not he was married has been a popular topic of speculation, which is why this document is very important. The text does not make it clear whether or not he was married, but to say that he wasn’t would also be jumping to conclusions. In that way, this fragment affects our understanding of the texts about Jesus in the New Testament, for example, says Jörgen.

The contents of the text are interesting in many ways. Among other things, it opens the door to new interpretations of texts in the New Testament and other early Christian sources, such as the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Gospel of Philip. Previously, it was assumed that anything that could be interpreted as an erotic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene was a metaphor for a purely spiritually intimate relationship. But if he was actually married, such texts can be read in an entirely different light.

– Besides, it leads us to suspect that other early texts may have been intended to be read more concretely than we have previously thought, concludes Jörgen.

Does Jörgen have any papyrus scrolls at home?

– Haha, I couldn’t tell you, even if I did. Which, of course, I don’t.