How to Date Jesus' Wife
Image: Harvard Divinity School

In 2012, Harvard Divinity School historian Karen L. King unveiled a fragment of papyrus she called the Gospel of Jesus' Wife. The fragment says, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...,'" and the rest of the sentence is cut off. Another segment says, "As for me, I dwell with her in order to…" but the speaker is not named.

Several scholars quickly dismissed the manuscript as a modern fake, prompting the Smithsonian Channel not to air its documentary on the papyrus piece. Thursday, Harvard Theology Review, which had planned to publish King's findings more than a year ago, released reports on the testing of the manuscript's papyrus and ink, calling them "consistent with an ancient origin." Professors at Columbia University, Harvard University, and MIT found that it resembles other ancient papyri from the fourth to the eighth centuries. But some scholars, such as Leo Depuydt, professor of Egyptology and ancient Western Asian studies at Brown University, still believe the fragment is a modern forgery. Their issue has not been with the papyrus or ink, but with grammatical "blunders" they say seem remixed from the Gospel of Thomas.

Both the 2012 announcement and yesterday's drew headlines worldwide—far more attention than other manuscript fragments purportedly from the fourth to eighth centuries. Should we care? Does this tell us anything about Jesus or early Christianity? We asked Nicholas Perrin, Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, and the author of several books on the Gospel of Thomas.

Do you think this fragment is a legitimate ancient document?

The consensus is that it is authentic, in the sense of being from ...

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