Quest for the truth

Investigation into the real owner of the “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” raises new doubts

Karen L. King Hollis, Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, in her office with a papyrus fragment of the gospel of Jesus' wife. Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

A small scrap of paper presented to the world for the first time in 2012 that bore the words “Jesus said to them, My wife,” has become known in academic circles as “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” a hotly-contested document that may or may not prove that Jesus had a wife. Now, a reporter who was among the first in the world to see the “Gospel” and report on the woman who discovered it, Harvard scholar Karen L. King, has tried to track the paper’s ownership back through centuries, starting with a chain of seemingly inconsistent emails between the anonymous owner and King.

“When I started to dig, however, I uncovered more than I’d ever expected—a warren of secrets and lies that spanned from the industrial districts of Berlin to the swingers scene of southwest Florida, and from the halls of Harvard and the Vatican to the headquarters of the East German Stasi,” Ariel Sabar writes in The Atlantic.

Sabar takes readers along on his trip from Florida to Germany to Harvard and elsewhere in a quest to verify the ownership and authenticity of that scrap of paper that could prove or disprove Western history’s grasp of who Jesus was. A German immigrant named Walter Fritz, who mysteriously dropped out of Egypt’s Free University after studying the Coptic language, became one of Sabar’s most promising leads. Fritz said he didn’t own or forge the document, and King, at Harvard, said that scientific testing still hadn’t proved it was a fake. But Sabar’s encounter with Fritz over lunch in a Sarasota, Fla., restaurant may cast the final shadow of doubt on whether Jesus’s wife was ever mentioned in ancient gospels.

Read the full story at The Atlantic.



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