A text believed to be written on ancient Egyptian papyrus and referring to Jesus as being married is not a modern forgery as some have claimed, according to a new study.
The findings, published Thursday in the Harvard Theological Review
, said the fragment's text makes direct reference to a married Jesus, supporting the argument of Harvard professor Karen L. King, according to the Boston Globe
King is the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard, the first woman to hold the chair and is trained in comparative religions and historical studies and specializes in the history of Christianity, according to her biography.
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The papyrus fragment, examined by the electrical engineering, chemistry and biology departments at Columbia University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, resembles the ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries, reported The New York Times
King introduced the fragment, which has become known as the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife," in Rome in 2012, but it was called a fraud by many of King's academic peers, as well as the Vatican newspaper, reported the Globe.
According to Smithsonian magazine in 2012
, King said the translation on the ancient scrap of papyrus was written "Jesus said to them, 'My wife . . .'" The next line, King said, translated to "She will be able to be my disciple, and two lines later said, "I dwell with her."
Carbon dating on the fragment found that the papyrus probably dates to eighth-century Egypt, about 400 years later than King originally thought, the Globe wrote. The newspaper reported that other examinations found the ink's chemical composition consistent with carbon-based inks used by ancient Egyptians.
"I'm basically hoping that we can move past the issue of forgery to questions about the significance of this fragment for the history of Christianity, for thinking about questions like, 'Why does Jesus being married, or not, even matter? Why is it that people had such an incredible reaction to this?'" said King.
King said the text would have been composed much later than the Bible's New Testament gospels, regarded as the most reliable sources on the historical Jesus and which makes no mention of a wife.
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