Text on Jesus' "Wife" Likely Not Fake: Harvard Study

Friday, Apr 11, 2014  |  Updated 12:05 PM EDT
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Text on Jesus' "Wife" Likely Not Fake: Harvard Study

AP/Harvard University, Rose Lincoln

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2012 file photo released by Harvard University, divinity professor Karen King holds a fragment of papyrus that she said is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife. An article published in the Harvard Theological Review on Thursday said new scientific tests suggest the fragment is more likely an ancient document than a forgery.

A Harvard University professor says scientific tests suggest a fragment of papyrus mentioning Jesus had a wife is more likely an ancient document than a forgery.

The text is written in Coptic and contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to "my wife." Karen King, a professor of divinity, writes in the Harvard Theological Review that the papyrus probably dates to eighth-century Egypt based on carbon dating and chemical tests on the ink.

Other researchers are still questioning the authenticity of the document.

King stresses that the fragment of text doesn't prove that Jesus was actually married. She says, if anything, it provides insight into early Christianity's debates over whether it was better to be celibate or to marry and have children.

King announced the research in 2012. Publication was delayed for the tests.


AP/Harvard University, Rose Lincoln
FILE - This Sept. 5, 2012 file photo released by Harvard University shows a fragment of papyrus that divinity professor Karen L. King said is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife. 

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