I have been tracking (although not very closely)  the discussions about the “Jesus’ Wife Fragment.”  It seems that a lot of the initial luster of the announcement has worn off, at least among the scholars.  Even initial supporters seem to be backing off the PR hype that occasioned the announcement.  I will not go into analytic detail here.  Others have done that admirably.  I am sure books will soon emerge or journal articles which will deal with the technicalities involved.  What I do want to do is mention a few questions that have emerged in my mind as I have looked at that issue.

First, I wondered right away about the timing of the raising of this issue.  Usually the so-called “Jesus issues” like the Da Vinci Code, the Gospel of Judas, etc., seem to be published between Christmas and Easter when interest in Jesus is at a peak in Western culture.  In this case, however, there is no book release.  It was a scholar’s paper issued at a conference.  This probably explains the difference in timing.  The scholar was putting it out there for other scholars to look at.  This is the normal process of scholarly research. In that sense, there was no PR hype to the same level as the other examples I’ve raised.  This may also explain why the issue died down quicker than the others since scholars of all theological positions have questioned the genuineness of this fragment.

Second, the smallness of the fragment seems to be problematic.  While small fragments of other manuscript materials have proved helpful, the smallness of this fragment lends itself to potential misinterpretation.  Why?  Jesus does have a wife according to Scripture — the bride of Christ which is the Church.  Many church fathers allude to this.  It would not be suprising to find a quick mention of this.  The entire context of the fragment would be needed to resolve the question. 

Third, in light of such realities, one wonders if a conservative Bible-believing Christian really needs to respond at all.    Is it worthy of a response?  My initial thought is that such things do need to be explained so that the public or the Church does not get led astray.  In essence, it would be a matter of apologetics.  On the other hand, it seems to me that in the large scheme of things, this is one of the “lesser lights” as far as issues go.  We need to make sure to spend our valuable God-given time accordingly.