In 2012, a Harvard scholar made headlines around the globe when she announced that she’d learned of a tiny scrap of papyrus that supposedly indicated that Jesus had been a married man; the “scripture” was quickly dubbed the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” The Harvard scholar publicly touted the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” as being authentic and, not surprisingly, the announcement was met with much skepticism and controversy, reports History.
Now, it appears that the uproar caused by Harvard University divinity professor Karen L. King was nothing but fiction. New research and statements by the professor indicates that the much-debated “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is nothing more than fiction.
The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” was nothing more than eight incomplete lines of Coptic script, written on Egyptian papyrus. In the fourth line of the “gospel” were the words “Jesus said to them, “My wife.” In the next partial line were the words, “she is able to be my wife.”
Karen King, despite her arguments supporting the authenticity of the “Gospel of Jesus’ of Wife,” always stopped short of claiming that the controversial papyrus was actually evidence that Jesus had had a wife. She simply said that the artifact was genuine.
Like King said regarding the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” back in 2012, no historical proof exists to support claims that Jesus wed or that he never wed.
However, the distinguished Harvard professor expressed a confidence bordering on certainty that the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” papyrus was authentic. According to reports, initial examinations by two experts in the field of papyrology indicated that the alleged gospel was “ancient.”
Following King’s 2012 announcement of the discovery of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” the Vatican spoke out against it, calling the papyrus a forgery. King’s contemporaries who doubted the validity of the alleged gospel cited grammatical errors that the believed authors of the papyrus “would never have committed.”
Despite the naysayers, a 2014 Harvard Theological Review published carbon-dating results combined with other tests; these testes indicated no evidence of fabrication in association with the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Indeed, the scientific examinations concluded that the document likely came from the seventh or eight century A.D.; the composition of the ink used on the papyrus was also found to be “consistent with that time period.”
A new 2016 article, however, has exposed the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” to be a likely fabrication. The article was written by Ariel Sabar, and it uncovers the shady history of the papyrus at the center of the controversy.
Reportedly, while the Harvard professor has confirmed that she saw a bill of sale, dated in 1999, from the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” artifact’s anonymous owner, she did nothing more to investigate the papyrus’ history.
Sabar, though, decided to look deep into the owner of the contentious document; the investigation discovered that the document was owned by Walter Fritz, who lives in Florida. The investigation also reportedly unearthed “a warren of secrets and lies” pertaining to the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”
According to Sabar’s research, Fritz once operated multiple porn sites featuring his own wife. He had claimed to have purchased the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” artifact in November 1999 from an ex (and now deceased) former business partner.
According to associates of the deceased business partner, however, he had never expressed any interest in ancient documents, and he was in Germany at the time of the alleged sale. Fritz had claimed that the sale took place in his Florida home.
It’s also become obvious that the bill of sale pertaining to the purchase of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” was a fraud.
Fritz, who had desired to stay anonymous, has since admitted to being the owner of the papyrus. However, he has wholeheartedly denied any fraud.
“I warrant that neither I, nor any third parties have forged, altered, or manipulated the fragment and/or its inscription in any way since it was acquired by me.”
Walter Fritz did concede, though, that his business expertise would have provided him with the background to fraudulently produce a document such as the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”
A finding of forgery in relation to the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” papyrus wouldn’t necessarily undermine the expertise of the scientific testing that found it to be ancient, either. According to The Atlantic, if someone had the expertise and wanted to produce a convincing forgery, they could buy a blank piece of ancient papyrus. Maybe even on eBay. Then, the could use ancient ink recipes to produce “passable Coptic script.”
“I don’t see anything to retract. I have always thought of scholarship as a conversation. So you put out your best thoughts, and then people…bring in new ideas or evidence. You go on. I would never agree to do an anonymous thing again. Lesson learned.”
What do you think? Is the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” papyrus a forgery or the real deal with a questionable back story?
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