An international mystery has erupted surrounding a scrap of ancient Egyptian papyrus printed with the words, “Jesus said to them, My wife …” The artifact was first made public in 2012, when Harvard researcher Karen King said an anonymous collector had contacted her with the papyrus, which seemed potentially legitimate to her based on the age of the papyrus and the Coptic language used in the note. The media and blogosphere went into a frenzy over the possibility that proof existed that Jesus had been married, but many Christian scholars took a skeptical view of the note.
Now, three years and dozens of analyses later, academics remain split over whether the papyrus is credible and whether it has anything to do with Jesus’ marital status at all. The papyrus and ink used on it have both undergone rigorous testing that date the papyrus itself to around the 8th century, but the testing cannot confirm when the ink was added. Also according to experts, the grammar and diction used in the Coptic note are strange, and similar to another forged document.
“For many people, there is a lot at stake — personally, professionally, or both — when it comes to Christian origins and the life of Jesus,” Stephen Davis, an early Christian scholar at Yale University who has not participated in the debate, told The Boston Globe. “I think we all — scholars and readers alike — love a good mystery that requires us to put on our Sherlock Holmes sleuthing hats and figure out, ‘Whodunnit?’”
Read the full story at The Boston Globe.