Jesus May Have Had a Wife: Origins of 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife' Emerge

First Posted: Aug 25, 2015 11:07 AM EDT

Jesus may have had a wife. A fourth-century scrap of papyrus has a line that reads "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'" Now, researchers are taking a closer look at this fragment of writing to find out how valid it really is.

Debate about whether or not the papyrus is credible has raged since its discovery back in Sept. 2012. At that time, Harvard University professor Karen King reported her discovery, which hints that Jesus may have been married and that his wife may have been one of his disciples, possibly referring to Mary Magdalene.

Analysis of the papyrus, detailed last year, suggested that the papyrus dates back about 1,200 years, which is somewhere between the sixth and ninth centuries. However, the ink is of a type that could not have been created at that time. This, in particular, is what led King to support the text's authenticity.

The fragment is written in Coptic, which is the language of a group of early Christians in Egypt.

"This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married," said King in an interview with LiveScience. "There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex."

Now, researchers are running new tests on the ink used on the papyrus. However, the scientists are saying little until their report is published. Though they did talk about one finding that could provide support for its authenticity. The current owner, who has asked to remain anonymous, says that they received the papyrus from a man named Hans-Ulrich Laukamp. Validating the previous owner may provide some sturdier evidence in terms of authenticating the piece of writing.

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