Ancient papyrus claiming Jesus had a wife 'worth little more than that settled dust,' says expert

The scrap of ancient papyrus that suggest Jesus had a wife can now be put to rest.


"In this case, it looks like this 'ancient' papyrus is worth little more than that settled dust," Darrell Bock, a professor of New Testament Studies at the Dallas Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post.

In September 2012 at the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome, Karen L. King, a Harvard historian of early Christianity, presented a piece of 1,300-year-old papyrus on which was written in ancient Coptic language the phrase, "Jesus said to them, My wife." It has since become a subject of dispute. A Vatican publication said that it is "an inept forgery," and some scholars noted the grammatical errors on the writing, as well as similarity to the Gospel of Thomas, which is a Gnostic work that is not considered as part of the Bible.

Ariel Sabar of The Atlantic traveled to different places to trace the origin of the artifact, and the information he unearthed involved, "a Harvard professor, a one time Florida pornographer, and an escape from East Germany." During his research, the investigative journalist found that the story revolved around a man named Ernest Fritz, who is an antiquities expert, owner of the domain name gospelofjesuswife.com, and owner of defunct porn websites that featured his wife.

"The evidence that the fragment was a forgery was already strong enough apart from the investigation," Dr. Nicholas Perrin, Wheaton College Professor of Biblical Studies, told The Christian Post.

He also gave his two cents on people's fascination with Jesus having had a wife, saying, "Sexual ethics is front and center in the North American discussion. Maybe, just maybe, a certain wing of the church is attracted by the prospect of a reconstructionist history which seeks to unmask the celibate Jesus of history as a pious fabrication."

He said that there is no evidence that Jesus ever married. However, the argument is that young Jewish men married and the Bible never said that he did not marry; therefore, he must have gotten married. He cited, however, the Jesus called for celibacy, which makes the assumption that Jesus remained unmarried reasonable.

Bock said that Sabar's lengthy story "gives more reason why so many were so skeptical about the claims for this text from the beginning. It points to the fact that when a largely unvetted sensational discovery is announced, time should be given for the dust to settle around those claims."