Jesus had a wife: scientists confirm papyrus
An ancient piece of papyrus that contains a mention of Jesus' wife is not a forgery, according to a scientific analysis of the controversial text, US researchers said Thursday.
The fragment is believed to have come from Egypt and contains writing in the Coptic language that says, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'" Another part reads: "She will be able to be my disciple."
Its discovery in 2012 caused a stir. Since Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married, it renewed long-running debates over celibacy and the role of women in the church.
The Vatican's newspaper declared it a fake, along with other scholars who doubted its authenticity based on its poor grammar, blurred text and uncertain origin.
Never before has a gospel referred to Jesus being married, or having women as disciples.
But a new scientific analysis of the papyrus and the ink, as well as the handwriting and grammar, show that the document is ancient.
"No evidence of modern fabrication ("forgery") was found," the Harvard Divinity School said in a statement.
The palm-sized fragment likely dates to between the sixth and ninth centuries, and could have been written as early as the second century CE (common era), said the study results published in the Harvard Theological Review.
Radiocarbon dating of the papyrus and a study of the ink using Micro-Raman spectroscopy was done by experts at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"The team concluded the papyrus' chemical composition and patterns of oxidation are consistent with old papyrus by comparing the GJW (Gospel of Jesus' Wife) fragment with a fragment of the Gospel of John," said the study.
"Current testing thus supports the conclusion that the papyrus and ink of GJW are ancient."
The origin of the papyrus is unknown.
Karen King, a historian at Harvard Divinity School, received it from a collector -- who asked to remain anonymous -- in 2012.
King, a historian of early Christianity, said the science showing the papyrus is ancient does not prove that Jesus was married.
"The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus -- a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued," King said in a statement.
"This gospel fragment provides a reason to reconsider what we thought we knew by asking what the role claims of Jesus's marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family."
The fragment measures four by eight centimeters (1.6 by 3.2 inches).
King said its late date -- written centuries after Jesus's death -- means the author did not know Jesus personally.
Its crude appearance and grammatical errors suggest the writer had no more than an elementary education, she added.
Leo Depuydt, a professor of Egyptology at Brown University, wrote an article, also published in the Harvard Theological Review, describing why he believes the document is fake.
"The papyrus fragment seems ripe for a Monty Python sketch," he wrote.
He noted grammatical errors and that the words "my wife" appear to be emphasized in bold letters, which are not featured in other ancient Coptic texts.
"As a student of Coptic convinced that the fragment is a modern creation, I am unable to escape the impression that there is something almost hilarious about the use of bold letters," he wrote.
King published a rebuttal to Depuydt's criticisms, saying in part that blotted ink was common and that the letters below "my wife" are even darker.
Also discovered: 1500 year old bible depicts that Jesus was not crucified
A book containing the Gospel of Barnabas - a disciple of Christ - depicts that Jesus was not crucified, nor was he the Son of God. He was a Prophet.
According to the National Turk, The book that was discovered and kept secret in the year 2000 also calls Apostle Paul “The Impostor”.
The National Turk says that the Bible was seized from a gang of smugglers in a Mediterranean-area operation. The report states the gang was charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and the possession of explosives. The books itself is valued as high as 40 Million Turkish Liras (approx. 28million Dollars).
The book also claims that Jesus ascended to heaven alive, and that Judas Iscariot was crucified in his place.
According to reports, experts and religious authorities in Tehran insist that the book is original.
The book itself is written with gold lettering, onto loosely-tied leather in Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.
The text maintains a vision similar to Islam, contradicting the New Testament’s teachings of Christianity. Jesus also foresees the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, who would found Islam 700 years later.
It is believed that, during the Council of Nicea, the Catholic Church hand-picked the gospels that form the Bible as we know it today; omitting the Gospel of Barnabas (among many others) in favor of the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Many biblical texts have begun to surface over time, including those of the Dead Sea and Gnostic Gospels; but this book especially, seems to worry the Vatican.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.