“Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Artifact “Likely Fake”

jesus wife
An image of a statue from Apostle John in Loreto Italy

An artifact that some thought brought proof of Jesus having a wife has been proven to be “likely fake.”

In 2012, Karen King, a Harvard University divinity professor and scholar of early Christianity, brought to the world’s attention a piece of papyrus, the size of a business card, that had the words “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife,’” and on the next line, “she is able to be my disciple.” According to History, it was the “first-known explicit reference to Jesus being married. Although King emphasized that the artifact could not be used to prove the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” she did claim it was authentic.

As you can understand, the statement caused a lot of controversy. The Vatican was quick to declare the artifact a forgery. Some of King’s colleagues even pointed out characteristics of the scroll that made it questionable at best. Despite all the skepticism, The Harvard Theological Review had the scroll carbon dated along with other tests, and published the results that indicated no reason to question its authenticity.

Fast forward to this year when The Atlantic journalist Ariel Sabar wrote an article about the artifact after doing some digging. It turns out King did not do much reconnaissance on the origins of the scroll and the person who owns it. It is owned by Walter Fritz, whose character and business handling are shady at best. While Fritz denies any forgery on his part, he did admit to Sabar that he was capable of it. He has a background in Egyptology and the Coptic language (which is featured on the scroll).

Upon learning of Sabar’s findings, King admits the new information “tips the balance toward forgery.” Despite her mistake, King is looking on the bright side. She is brushing the incident off as part of the scholarship process. “So you put out your best thoughts, and then people…bring in new ideas or evidence. You go on.”

It’s good to know when these hoaxes surface there are people in the secular world committed to finding out the truth.

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Megan Briggs
Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.