Karen L. King, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School (the oldest endowed chair in the United States ), will speak on "Was Jesus Married? Early Christian Controversies over Marriage, Celibacy, and Salvation" at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2013 in the Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall.Trained in comparative religions and historical studies, Professor King pursues teaching and research specialties in the history of Christianity. Her books include The Secret Revelation of John; The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle; What Is Gnosticism?; Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (with Elaine Pagels); and Revelation of the Unknowable God. Her particular theoretical interests are in discourses of normativity (orthodoxy and heresy), gender studies, and religion and violence. The lecture is sponsored by the Religion Department and the Willis D. Wood Fund and is free and open to the public.
The most reliable sources for reconstructing the life of the historical Jesus are entirely silent on the question of whether he was married. The earliest literature, however, shows that from the beginning his followers were vociferously debating whether life in Christ meant it was better—or even required—to give up marriage and sexual relations altogether, or whether marriage was ordained by God—and even necessary for salvation. The lecture will bring into the discussion recently discovered ancient Christian writings from Egypt, and consider what was at stake in these debates for Christian teaching about sexuality and desire.