‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’: Doubts Raised About Ancient Text

The authenticity of the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” has been debated since the papyrus was revealed in 2012. Now, new information uncovered by Live Science raises doubts about the origins of the scrap of papyrus.

The gospel, written in the ancient Egyptian language Coptic, has made headlines ever since Harvard University professor Karen King announced its discovery. The business-card-size fragment contains the translated line “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’” and also refers to a “Mary,” possibly Mary Magdalene. If authentic, the papyrus suggests that some people believed in ancient times that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

At the time of the discovery, King tentatively dated the papyrus to the fourth century A.D., saying it may be a copy of a gospel written in the second century in Greek. [Read Translation of Papyrus]

Recently, several scientific tests published in the journal Harvard Theological Review have suggested the papyrus is authentic, but a number of scholars, including Brown University professor Leo Depuydt,dispute the papyrus’s authenticity.

The document’s current owner has insisted on remaining anonymous, and King has not disclosed the person’s identity. However, in a recent Harvard Theological Review article, King published a contract provided by the current anonymous owner that King said indicates it was purchased, along with five other Coptic papyrus fragments, from a man named Hans-Ulrich Laukamp in November 1999 and that Laukamp had obtained it in 1963 from Potsdam in then-East Germany.

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