Gospel of Jesus' Wife

Intriguing name that Karen King has given this fragment.  My initial read of the fragment is thus:

The fragment reads very much like a paraphrase of sayings of Jesus found in the

Gospel of Thomas

and the

Gospel of Philip

.  In the

Gospel of Thomas

101, Jesus says that his true mother (probably a reference to the Spirit) gave him life, while his birth mother gave him death.  At the end of the

Gospel of Thomas

114, there is a saying that indicates conflict between Jesus and Peter over Mary, whether women are worth to have life.  Jesus says yes that he will guide Mary so that she can become a living spirit.  In the

Gospel of Philip

, Mary Magdalene is referenced as Jesus' wife in the context of a discussion about discipleship which is what we seem to have here too in this gospel fragment.  But here marriage is referenced rather than singlehood or maleness.

So what is the fragment about?  Jesus is talking to his disciples about discipleship and life.  Jesus connects life with his mother, who he says gave it to him.  If other texts can help us, the disciples are probably responding, how can this be?  Women don't have life or aren't worthy of life.  Then Jesus tells them that Mary is worthy, and that his wife (probably Mary) will be able to be his disciple.  He says that he is with her because of something (text is fragmented).  If the reference in the next line (8) to "an image" is connected to the "because of" clause in line 7 (which I think is highly likely), then we might have evidence of a Valentinian Gnostic worldview where Jesus and Mary's earthly marriage is an image of their future aeonic marriage.

I would translate line 7 thusly: "I am with her because..." and the because has something to do with an "image".

I am thinking that the fragment is from a Valentinian text, like the

Gospel of Philip

, whose author is aware of the alternative sayings traditions that we find also embedded in

Gospel of Thomas

.  It makes perfect sense in this context and is consistent with what we already know about ideology in early Valentinian Gnostic Christianity.

My initial translation based on the photograph published on

King's Harvard website

is: "...my mother gave me li[fe...] The disciples said to Jesus [...] deny. Mary is worthy of it [...] Jesus said to them, "My wife [and...] Let men who are wicked [...] I am with her because [...] an image [...]"

PHOTO CREDIT: Boston Globe