Another bit of papyrus was recently discovered in the sands of Egypt. No official translation has yet been published but here is my amateur attempt to translate the Coptic text. The manuscript is in fairly good condition but there are a few places where the text cannot be clearly deciphered.
Two men approached Jeshu when he was passing through a small fishing village on the northern shore of the <…> of Galilee. “Rabbi,” one of them said, “we have often heard you speak and have been deeply moved by your words. We want our lives to be open to this reign of God which you proclaim and we strive to love God mind, and strength, as you have said, and to love our neighbor as ourself.”
“You must not be far then from God’s reign,” responded <…>”
“But, Rabbi, you must understand that we have been together for seven years as husband and wife. We exchanged our vows privately <….> and have lived together faithfully ever since. Having no children of our own, we are raising nine abandoned children from our village. Our fishing business thrives and we are able to care for these children and help other people in need as well.”
“You are clearly heirs of <,,,,> reign and you are blessed. Why do you yet seem so troubled?” Jeshu asked them this, knowing already how much pain was in their hearts. “Because our religious teachers and many of our neighbors say that we are sinners and that our love is perverse and evil. Tell us, Rabbi, are they right?”
Jeshu replied, “Such teachers and neighbors know nothing of the deepest teaching of the Torah. If they have not learned compassion, then <….> is useless. Look at the people passing us on this road. Some pick up their cup with their right hand and some with their left. My Father’s creation is diverse but always good.”
“But why then, Rabbi,” asked one of the men, “does the Torah teach that it is an abomination for a man to lie with a man as with a woman”? Jeshu answered, “There are acts between men, as between men and women, that are cruel and hurtful, like the men who wanted to rape Lot’s guests in Sodom. But when sexual <….> is honest and respectful, it is no different for two men or two women or a man and a woman. Go to your homes in peace. You are true children of our heavenly
It is my hope that as this new text becomes public, it will help Christians in some of their discussions and debates today on this question. There are, of course, some who will say that because this story is not in the four canonical gospels, it has no value for us today.
By Ron Miller – May 26, 2006