Was Jesus married? "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" papyrus not fake according to new scientific tests

 
 
An ancient, business-card-sized papyrus fragment that appears to quote Jesus Christ discussing his wife is real, Harvard University announced Thursday, April 10. The fragment caused international uproar when it was revealed by a Harvard historian in September 2012, with prominent academics and the Vatican swiftly deeming it a forgery.

New scientific tests have turned up no evidence of modern forgery in a text written on ancient Egyptian papyrus that refers to Jesus as being married, according to a long-awaited article to be published in the Harvard Theological Review.

The findings support the argument of Harvard professor Karen L. King that the controversial text, the first-known explicit reference to a married Jesus, is almost certainly an authentic document.

The document was originally written in standard Sahidic. King’s translation, which caused a stir because of its fourth line, reads:

1 ] “not [to] me. My mother gave me li[fe . . .”
2 ] .” The disciples said to Jesus, “. [
3 ] deny. Mary is (not?) worthy of it [
4 ] . . .” Jesus said to them, “My wife . . [
5 ] . . . she is able to be my disciple . . [
6 ] . Let wicked people swell up . . . [
7] . As for me, I am with her in order to . [
8                     ] . an image . . . [

1                                        ]my moth[er
2                                        thr[ee
3                                        ]. . . [
4                                       ]forth . . . [
5–6                                   ](untranslatable) [
 
Harvard officials said scientists both within and outside the university extensively tested the papyrus and carbon ink of the badly aged fragment, dubbed the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife." The document, written in Coptic, a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, is made up of eight mostly legible dark lines on the front and six barely legible faded lines on the back. The handwriting and grammar were also examined over the last year and a half to confirm its authenticity. Scientists have concluded the fragment dates back to at least the sixth to ninth centuries, and possibly as far back as the fourth century.

The document was never meant to prove Jesus was married, Harvard Divinity School professor King emphasized. Instead, she argued, it's meant to highlight that some early Christians may have believed Jesus was married. The distinction is significant because debates over sexuality and marriage have dominated contemporary discussions about Christianity; the Catholic Church cites Jesus' celibacy as one reason its priests must not have sex or marry.

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