Coptic papyrus mentioning Jesus’ wife is a forgery, according to Coptic manuscripts experts
On September 18, 2012, the world was introduced to two women: Jesus’ wife and Karen L. King. The first woman, from antiquity, has been much speculated about; the second woman, from modernity, has already been venerated by the academy. Karen King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, at the 10th International Congress on Coptic Studies, presented to her colleagues—leading Coptic scholars from around the globe—a small fragment of Coptic papyrus in which Jesus mentions his “wife.” The text is now referred to as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.
Before her presentation, Karen King, ever the diligent scholar, had the Coptic papyrus reviewed by esteemed Coptic scholars Roger Bagnall and AnneMarie Luijendijk, whose academic credentials and reputations are above reproach, and neither found reason to find it fraudulent.
The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is approximately 1.5 x 3 inches. The inscription side contains eight lines of “unpracticed, messy” Sahidic Coptic. The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was scheduled to be published in the prestigious Harvard Theological Review (HTR) in 2012. However, due to the questions surrounding the papyrus fragment’s authenticity, the journal delayed the article until more testing could be completed. Many of these questions originated from Brown University professor of Egyptology and Assyriology Leo Depuydt, who claimed “It stinks!” only moments after viewing a photograph of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. HTR finally published a revised copy of Karen King’s paper, along with several articles on the Coptic papyrus in the April 2014 issue—including an article from Leo Depuydt claiming that the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is a fake.
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Less than a week after the publication of the papyrus fragment in HTR and the release of other fragments from the collection, Christian Askeland, assistant research professor of Christian Origins at Indiana Wesleyan University and the central region director and distinguished scholar of Coptic manuscripts for Green Scholars Initiative, revealed something remarkable: He demonstrated that a Gnostic Gospel of John fragment—from the same collection as the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife—was a forgery.
How does Christian Askeland do this and what does it have to do with the authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife? Find out by reading the full article “The Saga of ‘The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’” by Hershel Shanks in the May/June 2015 issue of BAR.
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Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? Was Mary Magdalene wife of Jesus? These are the questions that concern author Birger A. Pearson in his Bible Review article “From Saint to Sinner,” available to read in full in Bible History Daily >>
“Down the Rabbit Hole”: Owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Papyrus Unmasked
Timeline of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Saga
The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus Revisited
Is the Harvard Theological Review a Coward or Did Dr. Karen King Do Something Wrong? by Hershel Shanks
What Is Coptic and Who Were the Copts in Ancient Egypt?
This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on April 27, 2015.
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Jesus was the son of God but born of a mortal woman. Thus he would want and need an earthly wife. What’s the big deal? Most women in the bible were well thought of. Making Mary Magdalene a prostitute probly was born of woman hating theologians . Christ knew thirst hunger and pain. He was in a mortal body. He did not marginize women at all. Do your research.
Greetings… Through personal experience the TRUE TRUTH is revealed… IF one believes in DIVINITY then one must believe in the devil… 2 powerful aspects of the spirit, experienced in one manner OR other. Naturally one must conclude the spirits of the devil, will oppose goodness in every possible way including the TRUE gospel. FREE… Many Blessings, Lovingly Ron …www.jesustrustplusway.ca
Jesus was not married. To omit such a thing would be a huge lie. Since we know the gospels are all inspired this cannot be true. And why omit it if it was? It would not be a sin…. If the gospel writers told the scandalous truth about a woman, Mary Magdalene as the first to see the risen Lord.. If He was married why omit?
Of course it was fake! The Bride of the Lamb is New Jerusalem — NOT the “church” as so many “Christians” errantly believe. READ YOUR BIBLE, PEOPLE!
Revelation 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
The New Jerusalem
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. 12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (NASB)
The quote in verse 9 should be crystal clear to anyone with an inkling of reading comprehension. Quit following the false “precepts of men!”
Yes Jesus is spiritually married to the church but not only is married to Mary magdalene in heaven he is also married to many other women some very famous. He has revealed these things to me . he is returning soon you shall see.
I agree with MR. Contrary to what people WANT to believe about Jesus, he was NOT, and NEVER was, what is now considered Christian. He WAS JEWISH, though of what sect nobody knows.
Christianity as we know it today is derived from the misogynist beliefs of Paul of Tarsus and Augustine of Hippo, not those of Jesus. Thus the denial of Jesus being married.
As a student of the Bible for seventy years, the only hint of any relationship that could in anyway that would fall into a romantic mold would be Jesus’ relationship with Mary, younger sister of Martha and most likely Lazarus. Jesus visit their home several time before and after his ministry started. Probably because of a easy walk to the temple on festival days, as Joseph his earthly step-father so to speak was a devote Jew. She most likely had a teen-age crush on him. The family was the closest to him other than the family of disciples. Lazarus the one he loved, plus Martha the only woman he called by name, and Mary who sat at his feet listening to his voice with admiration. According to tradition this family ended up with Mary, Jesus’ mother in France at the end of their life.
God said seek and you shall find. Ask and u shall receive. You’ll never find the answer talking to each other. Jesus says, I go to sit with my father but leave you the holy spirit who will teach u all things.
Just reading all the comments and realizing no one listens makes me glad I’m not a teacher. I’d lose my temper more than one time.
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There are two questions here: 1) is this a genuine 4th century Coptic document or a modern fake and 2) if it were genuine, what would that tell us.
It’s interesting to discover that it is probably a modern fake, because that gives us more information on the growing trade in faked early Christian documents.
However, even it were proven to be a genuine 4th century document, it would simply go into the category of speculative pieces written long after Jesus’s death. It is the equivalent of taking High School exam answers about life in the 1800s and treating them as if they actually gave us new documentary information about the time of Jane Austen.
The text is too limited to make any definitive decision. It’s all speculation. This type of hype brings forth readers. Why post it here? The world is ready to jump on anything it can to call believers in Yeshua foolish. Questioning in this forum looks at the facts, not the supposition. No conclusion can be drawn.
More concerning is the state of the Church, overall, today! We have so many divisions and men who teach lies. Many condemn to hell simply for disagreeing with their doctrine. They are hypocrites on so many levels. They eat up the WORD by which they agree, then they deny the Power of the Holy Spirit in man, and reject the very teaching they proclaim as truth! Their “movements” are like the wind blowing to and fro!
Here is Wisdom: What Yeshua taught was forgiveness of sin! The Gospel message was the HOPE set forth in the Father’s love. Die to self. Live for God. If God forgives you, who are you not to forgive? Our human works are fit for the fire. They are of no eternal profit. Only the work of the HOLY SPIRIT will carry into eternity. Don’t recognize the Spirit? Either you deny His power because of your unbelief, or you love your sin and choose to ignore truth. The SPIRIT proclaims Yeshua as savior of the world and walks in HIS power, as we are also to walk, forgiving sin, leading to the Light.
Christians never know much about first century Christian history. They never read or watch “The Jesus Family Tomb.”
Don’t understand genetic research, earth sciences, or the Ugaritic/Evreet connection.
They just blindly believe in an Ancient Myth.
To apply the Mormon Church computer-generated approach to fill in missing genealogical blocks of info, we could conclude that since Jesus was of adult developed age and a typical male he would have been married by this time. And then there’s the real story–. . .
It was written in the 4th century so how would it know that Jesus was married?
I read in the BAR that there is a typo in the document which is the same as some online source, so it would seem to seal the deal that it’s a forgery. If I memory is correct, I think that’s what I read. Or another fragment in the same handwriting had the typo that is the same as the typo on an online source? Either way, indicates fake.
It doesn’t seem possible that this small a piece of papyrus would yield such startling conclusions. Although I am equally ill at ease over the notion of the “church” being the metaphorical wife of Jesus (Jesus having lived his entire life as a Jew, right to the end,) I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll get any answers from this fragment – even if it did turn out to be authentic. Context will be critical and there just doesn’t seem to be any context in this example.
Was Jesus Married?The Bible’s answer:
The Bible makes clear that Jesus was not married, even though it does not specifically comment on his marital status.The Bible does refer to Christ as a bridegroom, but the context makes it plain that these references are symbolic.—John 3:28, 29; 2 Corinthians 11:2.Consider the following.
#1The Bible frequently refers to Jesus’ family as well as to women who accompanied him during his ministry and who stood by when he was executed, yet it never mentions his having a wife. (Matthew 12:46, 47; Mark 3:31, 32; 15:40; Luke 8:2, 3, 19, 20; John 19:25) The most plausible reason why the Bible is silent on this matter is that he was never married.
#2Concerning those who remain unmarried so that they can do more in God’s service, Jesus told his disciples: “Let the one who can make room for it [singleness] make room for it.” (Matthew 19:10-12) He set the pattern for those who choose not to marry in order to devote themselves more fully to God.—John 13:15; 1 Corinthians 7:32-38.
#3Just before he died, Jesus arranged for the care of his mother. (John 19:25-27) If Jesus had been married or had fathered children, he would have made sure that such close family members were provided for as well.
#4The Bible uses Jesus as an example for husbands, but it does not refer to the way he treated a human wife. Instead, it says: “Husbands, continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and gave himself up for it.” (Ephesians 5:25) If Jesus had actually been married while on earth, would not his perfect example as a literal husband have been used in that verse?
[…] Before her presentation, Karen King, ever the diligent scholar, had the Coptic papyrus reviewed by esteemed Coptic scholars Roger Bagnall and AnneMarie Luijendijk, whose academic credentials and reputations are above reproach, and neither found reason to find it fraudulent. The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is approximately 1.5 x 3 inches. The inscription side contains eight lines of “unpracticed, messy” Sahidic Coptic. The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife was scheduled to be published in the prestigious Harvard Theological Review (HTR) in 2012. However, due to the questions surrounding the papyrus fragment’s authenticity, the journal delayed the article until more testing could be completed. Many of these questions originated from Brown University professor of Egyptology and Assyriology Leo Depuydt, who claimed “It stinks!” only moments after viewing a photograph of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. HTR finally published a revised copy of Karen King’s paper, along with several articles on the Coptic papyrus in the April 2014 issue—including an article from Leo Depuydt claiming that the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is a fake READ MORE:http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/is-the-gospel-of-jesus-wife-a… […]
Robin says “It is a known fact that many books were omitted from the final version of the Bible, because their message contained therein was not seen as conducive to the image of Jesus that early church fathers were trying to convey”
Hi Robin, there was a religion called Gnosticism. This religion was based on many sources including Greek philosophy and Zoroastrianism. They also drew from early Christianity. The Gnostics wrote a number of fanciful tales about Jesus and these tales are clearly Gnostic. These have nothing to do with the real Jesus. They were never accepted in any early draft of the Bible. They were reject by Christians from the moment they first appeared.
Gerald says “I’ve always been offended by the concept of the church being Christ’s bride when it is the Body of Christ. It cannot be both”
Both metaphors are meaningful and harmonious. The head-body illustration pictures unity and that the congregation looks to Jesus for direction. The “bride” similarly involves the headship arrangement, but also pictures the spiritual cleanliness of those chosen to serve with Jesus in heaven and the event (marriage of the lamb) when the full number of them are united with him in heaven.
I’ve always been offended by the concept of the church being Christ’s bride when it is the Body of Christ. It cannot be both. It is like the figurative pelican who really doesn’t feed young in the way depicted by the church. It is more like the boat, adrift.
It is a known fact that many books were omitted from the final version of the Bible, because their message contained therein was not seen as conducive to the image of Jesus that early church fathers were trying to convey. The Bible was a product of a lot of tampering, editing and revision, by people with a purpose. There is no evidence to say that Jesus wasn’t married. There is no evidence to say He didn’t have any children. In that time and place, it would have been highly unusual to be a man, a Teacher, and not be married. Almost socially unacceptable. There is actually more evidence that he was. The Synoptic Gospels most definitely do not agree with everything reported of Jesus’ life. I read the Gospels and see holes: Too many unanswered questions that are meant to be taken on faith alone. Accept it and don’t question. Believe it because we tell you to? Jesus’ divinity was voted on. This is also fact. To be mortal one minute and divine the next isn’t dogma that works for me. I believe Jesus was a special man with a powerful message, living during a time of political and religious unrest in that part of the world. I believe the truth of his existence and message will continue to be uncovered, as archaeology is ever advancing. I also believe that peoples’ faith, their very psyche would be considerably shaken if they were to have incontrovertible proof that the story was indeed completely different.
The inconsistency of our popular media never fails to amaze me. The priest’s celibacy was once thought to be the reason for their sexual deviance , called homosexual and pedophiles. Today we are enlightened and have made it a crime to be intolerant and not accepting of a person with same sex attraction. We champion this modernity by being intolerant and not accepting of any different view point. No room for diversity here. We have enacted laws that restrict families and health professionals from helping an individual seeking the truth about his natural identity, how dare society try and change who they are. Yet, we turn around and say some of our members should not be thought of any less if they are not happy with who they appear to be naturally and we the tax payers should fund their sex organ change. So who is acceptable the way they are? Christians certainly are not. Ms. Clinton suggests that if you are not of like mind regarding these and other prominent social issues, you must yield to be accepted, have your voice heard and sound just like all the others. What is so wrong with Jesus being strait and single? Jesus was loving and he got angry. Jesus fed the poor and hung out with the rich … oh yes a couple of issues back. Fanfic indeed. I had ask my daughter what this meant. At least, it makes for some entertainment. We’ll simply have to wait for Geraldo or Brian Williams to enlighten us further.
Total Male domination may be closer than we think-the second we can start giving birth it will be finished.
I feel stupider for having clicked on an article talking about Jesus being married. Go read your bibles, “Scholars”. Like a bunch of monkeys sitting around telling each other you’re smart. How about discussing something relevant to biblical archaeology?
I studied Coptic intensely ten years ago. Today few “scholars” are truly competent with this language.
The reading is uncertain. In Sahidic Coptic quoted speech is always preceded by a little word – je. This word is missing in the key phrase. The only time this happens is in a parenthetical phrase, where peje (said) is parenthetical. However this requires the speech of Jesus to be properly introduced earlier. If we look two lines up we see that one of Jesus disciples is being introduced as speaking. This leaves no concievable space for the words of the disciple and the introduction if the words of Jesus and some words of Jesus before we can have a parenthetical peje. This makes the reading (said Jesus my woman) practically impossible. Furthermore, the text is broken before what is interpreted to be the word peje (said). It is possible that this isn’t the word peje at all! These words could in fact be the words of the disciple introduced earlier who might be addressing or mentioning Jesus as he speaks of his own wife.
By the way the NT itself speaks of Jesus woman (or wife) in a figurative sense at Rev 21:9.
Hi all, I agree that the reference to wife can be confused with bride and who knows, even woman in some stories. It does matter if the Christ was married. He spoke to the first man and will speak to the last man. He speaks to those who stand alone or as he has allowed, to share yourself with another. It’s about when the coffin lid closes. Every one will stand around and give their opinion on the kind of person you were at the titles you were given. Such as Husband, son, father, brother, cop or scientist. When the lid closes you stand alone and this is where the Christ is concerned with. Scripture says that it is good to stand alone but if you cannot withstand the temptations of the flesh then take a wife. It is scripture. I’d say the Christ did well in avoiding temptations of the flesh. It is written in accepted scripture. I’d say it was a forgery or the words after word of mouth need to be looked at closer.
Translation of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”
1 ] “not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe…”
2 ] .” The disciples said to Jesus, “.[
3 ] deny. Mary is (not?) worthy of it [
4 ]…” Jesus said to them, “My wife . .[
5 ]… she is able to be my disciple . . [
6 ] . Let wicked people swell up … [
7 ] . As for me, I am with her in order to . [
8 ] . an image … [
this is not biblecal jesus is god and that the marige is the church read the bible you hipcrits
The male dominated society at the time of Christ was too filled with pride to accept a female as an apostle, teacher or any authority figure and women are still treated poorly in many countries(India,Pakistan,etc)and knowing society for what it is (still male dominated) I myself don’t expect to see any changes in my lifetime (sadly) but there is always hope. L Brooks, Asheboro N.C.
The original language was Aramaic. People were identified first by their familial associations, ie, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Andrew, the brother of James, then by what they were rejoined for – John the Baptist, or the area they came from – Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalen, from Magdala. No where is Mary referred to as the wife of Jesus, or the mother of any children. She is known as the Patroness of France because she lived alone and converted the early French until her death.
As I keep saying, this kind of “Was Jesus married?” document, if it is authentic, dates from the 4-5th century CE and is part of the Gnostic tradition that had its roots in Egypt and has little or nothing to do with the mid first century texts and the oral tradition that produced them. These late texts are the equivalent of the Fanfic of the ancient world.
I think that the above response by Gregory is a bit of a stretch. He says “What does it matter the new testament is a forgery.”
Nothing of the sort is being asserted in this article about the New Testament. The only assertion is about this mysterious Gospel fragment and whether or not it has value or authenticity. The four canonical gospels were written very early — within the lifetimes of those who had seen and known or heard Jesus. The letters of Paul (for example) echo the gospel beliefs in Jesus’ divinity and the details about his death by crucifixion and resurrection and subsequent “sightings” of Him. And a few of them — the letter to Corinth, e.g. — are earlier than any gospel. As has been pointed out by others, like Ehrman, Paul’s information on this goes back to three years or so from the time of the crucifixion,
I will await the chance to read more on this in the latest VAR. I am a sola scriptura person and discount “gospels” that did not make the canon.
Jesus. Is. God. Who. Marriaged. The. Church,(PST. Don. So. Mach. Like. Yous. , you. Massage, I. Paryer. That. The. Good. God. We. Contain. To. Bliss. You. Amen
The sad truth is, unless we had hard facts to say he was married the will always be “experts” who say this is false.
What does it matter the new testament is a forgery. The wolves are sheep because the shepherds have brought them up as such. There is no truth in them not one drop, a fool would allow this to be translated a wiseman will learn for himself . Wisdom comes from those who seek it it is not giving from one to another . One must stand on his own foundation not that of another. Only a fool would believe without investigating
Is there any physical or spiritual reason why Jesus could not have been married? It is not
mentioned in any of the four Biblical gospels, but these were written many years after the
death of Jesus, when his life may have been approaching a standard oral telling. Not many
people could even read the gospels when they were written, and it is said that they were all transcribed into Greek (perhaps their original language). Remember that there were divisions in the early Christian Church, the Gentile followers of Paul and perhaps Peter, and the Jewish followers based in Jerusalem (Paul often complains of them in his letters to the Corinthians).
It was important that these gospels establish the truth of Jesus being the Son of God,
being born of the human Mary, with no extraneous complications. A wife would have been
such a complication, as it would imply Jewish children, etc. It would also certify that Jesus
was definitely human, while also being the spiritual son of God. Moreover, Jesus himself
was a Jewish man, had a trade and was totally adult at the time of his ministry. He would
have been expected to be married by his family by a much earlier age than 30.
We will never know for sure, in spite of this controversy. But a wife for Jesus was a possible event. That being said, does it really matter? Does it harm your faith in our Christian beliefs?
In my case, not at all.
It would have been nice if the writer of the article had provided a translation of the text so we can see the context. The only Bride of Christ is the church and that may be what is being referenced in this text but we won’t know until someone publishes a translation.
There’s no wife to Jesus.If he was married to anyone then his wife must also be tortured at the cross.So the above text might be surely referred to the church as bride
Well, maybe it’s not a fake, but since it’s only a ‘fragment’ and the whole comment is being taken out of context. Jesus’ ‘wife’ is none other than the Bride of Christ… the Church! So, maybe that’s what He was referring to. In which case, then, it would make the fragment authentic. But I think that’s a bit of a stretch. We’ll know for sure what it’s all about, in just a matter of months.
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