The Gospel According to Random Pieces of Paper

There are many people who keep a journal.  They write about experiences they have, feelings or write poems to capture all of that.  Other people write stories that are completely fiction or that are based on some event, but are still a fictional rendering of it.  One of the favorite things I see from my kids are the different notebooks they have and what they put in them.  My oldest son has even started writing comics and little stories.  We always enjoyed his journal from school and how he would describe the things we did as a family.  Sometimes he would even add some extra details to the stories in order to make them sound a bit more exciting.

People have not changed over the years.  The only real difference is how we document things.  Instead of writing things on papyrus or other things, we use notebooks  and electronic media.  There are stories about everything out there.  Some are true and some are not.  Even stories based on actual events don’t follow the story line exactly.  They are certainly not in the same genre of literature as encyclopedias or other historical books.

This is what came to my mind when I saw the news about a small piece of paper that supposedly indicates that Jesus could have married someone.  This is not a new claim.  There have been people who have claimed there had been a cover-up or conspiracy for years.  Much of that was not based on any sort of reality, but instead was put together in order to make money.   It would appear that indisputable evidence is needed unless it is evidence that raises questions about the Christian faith.  In that case, bring all the sources you want, no matter how solid they are.   This document might be a fictional account or it might be about someone else.  There are too many questions about it to have it even be considered as a valuable piece of historical evidence.  Yet, how easily the media grabs on to it and makes a scene about it.

Even something as simple as the dating of the Gospels, showing that they were all written very early on and would have had eye witnesses alive when they were written, is something that just gets tossed aside.   The recent piece of papyrus has been dated 400 years after Jesus was crucified.  Yet, all of a sudden this is now a big debate again.  The Harvard professor being quoted in articles all over the place says, “Christian tradition has long-held that Jesus was not married, even though no reliable historical evidence exists to support that claim.”  What she fails to say is that there also is no reliable historical evidence to say that Jesus was married.   Some people have said that it would have been strange fro Jesus to not have been married in that culture.  I don’t think that is a solid argument because nothing Jesus did was normal.  In fact, most of the time the people gathered because He was so different from the teachers they were used to because He spoke with authority.  That being said, the fact that we have an entire New Testament that never mentions Jesus as having been married seems like a fairly solid case against Him being married.  We also have the issue of Jesus’ mission while on earth.  He didn’t come to establish some sort of life on earth.  In fact, Jesus didn’t even have any real permanent home.

“Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  – Matthew 8:20

He was always about the will of his Father, not some man driven agenda.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” – Luke 19:10

The real issue is if people really want to handle the evidence  here that has been shown to pass vigorous tests. You have historical evidence, church history and a movement of believers that has stood the test of time and countless claims of conspiracy.  If the eyewitnesses mention nothing about a wife, doesn’t that say something?

I had a discussion with someone about whether Jesus existed or not.  They told me that there was no proof that Jesus even existed.  I showed them that even many secular scholars acknowledge His existence.  Where they disagree is on who He really is.  When I showed them some sources outside of the Bible, they just told me that it didn’t make any difference.  My point was that if there was a person named Jesus who did what the Gospels claim, then we at least need to decide whether to follow Him or not.  This person told me they didn’t care whether Jesus existed or not.

This illustrates the big problem with these supposed scholarly finds.  They don’t approach it with any sort of caution at all.  Many of them don’t even want to know what the truth is.   They look for the controversy and exploit it.  They throw mountains of historical evidence aside.  The assumption is ultimately made that the story of Jesus needs to be corrected or disproved because it couldn’t possibly be as it has been told.   This is just another example of the Word of God being undermined by some random pieces of paper that hold no more weight than my son’s journal.  Sure, it is entertaining, but it doesn’t provide any measure of truth for a world.

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