One small point about the “Jesus’ wife” paper

Mary Magdalene

Karen King’s draft paper on Jesus’ wife, and the Harvard Divinity School’s web site on the subject, both have a minor grammatical problem: the English title given to the gospel fragment.  They style it as The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, i. e., the possessive form of “Jesus” is made by adding an apostrophe – “s,” rather than simply an apostrophe.

I would respectfully suggest that they change this in the final version.  It should be styled “Jesus’ wife.”  Saying “Jesus’s wife” is just too awkward.

The consensus of grammarians seems to be that you should write it as you would speak it, avoiding awkward usages.  Even Strunk and White, who say to follow the rule about apostrophe – “s” “whatever the final consonant,” make an exception for Jesus. Already, I notice that The Christian Post and Reuters have “corrected” King’s and the Harvard Divinity School’s usage in reporting the story of this gospel. This form of the possessive of “Jesus” (without the additional apostrophe – “s”) has a firm precedent in popular literature; try singing the hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” as “Jesus’s Name.”

One Reply to “One small point about the “Jesus’ wife” paper”

  1. It would not be surprising that Jesus was not married. His brother James was not married.

    Or maybe Jesus was older and Mary had died.

    In John (8:57) Jesus’ critics question his authority by remarking “You are not yet fifty years old,” which would imply he was certainly older than thirty.

    Irenaeus (died c. 220) contends that John and Jesus were born at least 20 years earlier than the often unreliable Luke says, and that Jesus was crucified in his fifties. (Cf. Charles P. Vaclavik, The Vegetarianism of Jesus Christ, p. 73 ff.; Irenaeus Against Heresies, 2:22:6, Roberts and Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I, p. 392.

    Maybe Jesus died in his 50s, and by that time Mary might have predeceased him. He might have been an aging widower.

    Bottom line: We don’t know. The information is too fragmentary. The New Testament gospels are gentile books, and the gentiles who compiled it in Antioch and Rome had no access to the founders or to the Aramaic version of Matthew, which the Ebionites refused to share with them. All they had was fragmentary memorized “targums” in Greek.

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