Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sarah Morice-Brubaker on New Coptic Manuscript Discovery: Did Jesus Put a Ring on It?

In the lines I wish I'd written category, Sarah Morice-Brubaker writing about the discovery of a fourth-century Coptic papyrus fragment that may (or may not?) indicate Jesus was married:

It's from the fourth century, which was when the questions about Jesus that theologians now remember as the biggies -- like, did Christ exist from all eternity? Or was he the first creature that God the Father created? -- were of a rather different flavor than "Did Jesus put a ring on it?"  

Did Jesus put a ring on it?  As Morice-Brubaker notes, there have been persistent attempts down through the centuries to cast Jesus in our mold, and even if can be demonstrated that Jesus married, what that meant would be something quite different from what we understand marriage to be today.

Here, my thinking will always be framed by Karl Barth's classic insights about the alterity of the Word that God speaks to the world through Jesus.  Every time we try to redesign the Word of God to fit our own expectations, we're really trying, Barth suggests (and I suspect he's right) to redesign a more comfortable Word that does not, in key respects, stand over against all that we attempt and build in history short of the eschaton.

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