Or so says the great Anthony Sacramone, in his analysis of the latest news that is supposed to shake the very foundations of Christianity.
Usually this mainstream media tradition of releasing such stories happens at Christmas or Easter. You know the drill: scientists/archeologists/hucksters have discovered Jesus walked on an ice floe, not water/Jesus didn't die so much as pass out after being doped up/Jesus' father was actually a Roman soldier named Pantera.
We all have our favorite. Mine? That time that National Geographic released an unrelenting public relations offensive based around something later shown to be a mistranslation of a 3rd century text about Judas. But for weeks we were told that Judas was more a hero than villain of the Christian story.
Anywho, we were treated to front-page headlines yesterday in the New York Times about Jesus’ wife (“A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife“), based on a very tiny fragment of what one scholar says is a 4th-century writing about Jesus Christ. If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that mysterious stories about 4th-century Coptic fragments of questionable provenance are probably more authoritative (in the media’s eyes) about Jesus’ life than the extensive writings of his contemporaries.
After the juicy headlines some reporters even got around to admitting the find wasn't as significant as the headlines claimed.
So what's the point of the story? I'll let the New York Times explain:
Even with many questions unsettled, the discovery could reignite the debate over whether Jesus was married, whether Mary Magdalene was his wife and whether he had a female disciple. These debates date to the early centuries of Christianity, scholars say. But they are relevant today, when global Christianity is roiling over the place of women in ministry and the boundaries of marriage.
The discussion is particularly animated in the Roman Catholic Church, where despite calls for change, the Vatican has reiterated the teaching that the priesthood cannot be opened to women and married men because of the model set by Jesus.
The discovery of this lost fragment, if interpreted in just the right way, matches the views of the New York Times editorial page! It’s an early Christmas miracle!