Three teams of scientists at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have concluded that the ancient coptic papyrus that talks about Jesus’ wife is authentic and not a forgery. The Vatican claimed the latter when it was discovered.
The papyrus is called the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife because it contains phrases attributed to Jesus talking about his wife. Here’s the complete translation of the text above:
Carbon dating dates the text to eighth-century Egypt, which is 400 years later than what Karen L. King — Professor of Divinity at Harvard University — thought it was going to be. But that date is still considered ancient times — not a modern forgery as the Vatican said.
On the paper presenting this discovery, King says that this papyrus is not proof that Jesus was married:
The fragment does not provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married but concerns an early Christian debate over whether women who are wives and mothers can be disciples of Jesus.
No matter her caveat, however, it’s probably going to make Christians scream in a thousand tongues. Which is probably the most interesting aspect of all this, as she said to the Boston Globe:
I’m basically hoping that we can move past the issue of forgery to questions about the significance of this fragment for the history of Christianity, for thinking about questions like, ‘Why does Jesus being married, or not, even matter? Why is it that people had such an incredible reaction to this?’
Indeed. What’s the problem with Jesus being married or not?