In 2012 there was much ado about a small fragment that a professor at Harvard and alleged expert claimed was a fragment of The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Press conferences and all that stuff. Of course, the fact that it supported the professor’s two books entitled The Gospel of Mary Magdala - well, let the reader understand. As was immediately suspected, the fragment is a fake.
Having evaluated the evidence, many specialists in ancient manuscripts and Christian origins think Karen King and the Harvard Divinity School were the victims of an elaborate ruse. Scholars had assumed that radiometric tests would return an early date (at least in antiquity), because the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment had been cut from a genuinely ancient piece of material. Likewise, those familiar with papyri had identified the ink used as soot-based—preferred by forgers because the Raman spectroscopy tests used to test for age would be inconclusive.It’s hard to believe that you can be an “expert” and still be taken in on this ruse, elaborate or not ESPECIALLY when it was debunked almost from the start. Of course, that would not have met the storyline. Surely, now that the “consensus” has been reached, Dr. King will be holding another press conference to point out her error and apologize for misleading so many. Don’t hold your breath with with there being so many who have no problem with the truth being a malleable tool.
It is perhaps understandable that Ms. King would have been taken in when an anonymous owner presented her with some papyrus fragments for research. What is harder to understand was the rush by the media and others to embrace the idea that Jesus had a wife and that Christian beliefs have been mistaken for centuries. No evidence for Jesus having been married exists in any of the thousands of orthodox biblical writings dating to antiquity. You would have thought Thomas Aquinas might have mentioned it. But this episode is not totally without merit. It will provide a valuable case study for research classes long after we’re gone and the biblical texts remain.