Papyrus referring to wife of Jesus

Scientists say papyrus referring to wife of Jesus is no fake

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In September, 2012, a faded fragment of papyrus, which has controversially come to be known as 'The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife', made international headlines when it was unveilled by Harvard Divinity School historian Karen L. King.  The announcement, unsurprisingly, was met with both anger and elation, as well as a great deal of skepticism as it contained a phrase never seen before in any other scripture: " Jesus said to them, my wife…." , and " she will be able to be my disciple", a phrase that stirred debate over whether women should be allowed to be priests.  An editorial in the Vatican’s newspaper declared that the papyrus was a fake, as did a number of other scholars. However, the fragment has now been thoroughly tested by scientists who conclude, in a report published in the Harvard Theological Review , that the ink (actually pigment) and papyrus have ancient origins, and the fragment is not, therefore, a modern forgery.

The papyrus fragment has now been tested by scientists at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), who carried out carbon-dating as well as micro-Raman spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of the ink. The results revealed that: the papyrus can be dated to approximately 700 to 800 AD, it is consistent with other papyri from the fourth to the eight centuries, the carbon black ink (actually a type of pigment) was typical of that used on other papyri of the time, and the text did not show any variations or inconsistencies which would suggest doctoring.

The text is written in Sahidic, a language of ancient Egypt, and the study authors have suggested that it may be a transcription of an earlier Coptic text that was based on a Greek copy made centuries earlier, as many early Christian gospels are. Therefore, a date of 700 to 800 AD does not mean that this was the first time the text appeared.

However, scientific analysis is not always enough to convince some. The Harvard Theological review, is also publishing a counter piece by Egyptologist at Brown University, Leo Depuydt, whose paper predates the scientific analysis. According to a report on the story in the New York Times , Dr Depuydt said that testing the fragment was irrelevant and he saw “no need to inspect it”. He said he decided that it is a fake based on a newspaper photograph of the papyrus in which he saw “grammatical errors”, as well as similarity to writing in the Gospel of Thomas. In a rebuttal, King finds Depuydt’s textual analysis unpersuasive.

Dr King has been quick to point out that the test results do not prove that Jesus had a wife or disciples who were women, only that the fragment is ancient rather than forged. She does hope, however, that the discussion, commentary, and focus can now move on from ‘is it fake?’ to ‘what does all this mean?’

Featured image:  The front of a papyrus fragment from an early Christian codex on which is written the Gospel of Jesus's Wife. Photo credit: Karen L. King

By April Holloway


In the present day, very few of us will live to see our 100th birthday. So, put in that context, 700 years is a very long time. The story of Jesus, told 700 years after his alleged existence, could very well have been a myth or a fairy tale. There still has been no evidence to prove he ever existed.

your comment misses the mark. this fragment is recorded in a relatively pervasive dialect of coptic, the most common in fact. the article says, this is most likely a transcription or copy of a much earlier work. just because the extant COPY is from the 7th century, does not mean that that was the first incarnation of the fragment to appear. there are many, many lost works in the passage of history that we are aware of only through references in other, still surviving works. imagine how many works we have lost completely over the millenniums. the Library of Alexandria is a prime example of this. centuries of classical works, LOST.

My view hasn't changed. There is no evidence that Jesus existed. The written word, no matter when it was penned, is not proof. Listen to what this guy says about it

My goal was not to change your view on whether or not Jesus existed, but for you to accept that the fragment found dating from 7th century is not likely to be the very first copy of that so-called Gospel in existence, and that its origins, most likely, are much older.

I would agree completely in that this 7th century fragment is a copy from an earlier original. I don't think anyone would argue with that point simply because classic Gnosticism, as this fragment obviously belongs to, had almost completely died out by the 7th century...

Timothy Freke makes his living trying to sell a Jesus myth...Thus, he is a very poor example for you to use. Freke would do better to claim that Caesar or Alexander didn't exist then Jesus since there is more extant contemporaneous non-biblical sources for Jesus than either Caesar or Alexander...

Christians would like to refute any claims that Jesus was married for the simple reason that it would shake the very foundation of their belief.  

You really couldn't be more wrong...Let's assume for a moment that Jesus did indeed marry Mary Magdalene. How would that change anything regarding His ministry, His sacrifice, His ascension, or His being, as Origen termed it - the Godman?...Marriage is not a sin my friend, so how, exactly, would Jesus marrying change anything?...The ONLY reason the Church has condemned the Gnostics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries who made the claim that He was married was simply because it was historically inaccurate - like so much one finds in ALL the Gnostic texts...

It would challenge the patriarchal power structure. It has nothing to do with sin, it has to do with church politics.

You really couldn't be more wrong...Let's assume for a moment that Jesus did indeed marry Mary Magdalene. How would that change anything regarding His ministry, His sacrifice, His ascension, or His being, as Origen termed it - the Godman?...Marriage is not a sin my friend, so how, exactly, would Jesus marrying change anything?...The ONLY reason the Church has condemned the Gnostics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries who made the claim that He was married was simply because it was historically inaccurate - like so much one finds in ALL the Gnostic texts...

You really couldn't be more wrong...Let's assume for a moment that Jesus did indeed marry Mary Magdalene. How would that change anything regarding His ministry, His sacrifice, His ascension, or His being, as Origen termed it - the Godman?...Marriage is not a sin my friend, so how, exactly, would Jesus marrying change anything?...The ONLY reason the Church has condemned the Gnostics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries who made the claim that He was married was simply because it was historically inaccurate - like so much one finds in ALL the Gnostic texts...

Is your question whether Jesus the person did in fact exist or that the was divine? The Council of Nicea declared him divine which didn't make it so. That he was a rabbi and revolutionary I can accept without much hesitation.

Is your question whether Jesus the person did in fact exist or that the was divine? The Council of Nicea declared him divine which didn't make it so. That he was a rabbi and revolutionary I can accept without much hesitation.

There is more evidence (and I'm only counting extra-Biblical sources here) for the existence of Jesus than there is for Plato.
Flavius Josephus mentions Jesus and characters associated with Jesus several times in his Antiquities of the Jews. Jesus is also mentioned as an actual, living figure by Tacitus, Pliny, Thallus, and Lucian.
Your claim that, "There is no evidence that Jesus existed" is factually erroneous. If you wish to deny the evidence, that's your choice...but to say the evidence doesn't exist is nothing but a bald-faced lie.

Please do further research. It is well known and established as fact among New Testament scholars that Jesus is an historical figure that preached and had a following of disciples. He was crucified for his statements (claiming that he was God in essence) buried in a tomb, which was discovered empty by women, and then witnessed by dozens of people continuing to preach and heal. these are the historical facts. The most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence is that he rose from the dead after 3 days.

There is no such evidence.

In your opinion that's the most "reasonable" hypothesis rofl?

I guess I made the mistake of thinking this website would be free of apologists and fanatics.

You entered into a religious discussion on a religious post of great controversy and you assumed you could do so and not run into people passionate (I don't like "fanatics" to describe passionate people) on both sides of the spectrum?...Very nieve on your part...

Actually no one argues that anymore.... Jesus did exist.. its just was he the son of God.. that comes down to faith.. thats about it. The first scriptures were put together 70-150 years after Jesus, but many were written they were just not assembled into the new testament. The codex sinaticus, and some others..

Anyway to this article... all people are the bride of Christ, so it does not change anything. Jesus' wife is the church as the bible has said...

Actually you are very wrong in "dating the first scriptures 75-100 years after Jesus." St Paul was clearly writing "scripture" within 15 years of the crucifixion. Peter's books - and all agree that the Gospel of Mark is also Peter's work - were authored prior to 64 AD when he was crucified, or a mere 30-plus years after the crucifixion...Given that the catastrophic destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, a mere 37 years after the crucifixion, is no where mentioned in the Gospels, even though Christ prophesied about that very destruction in great detail, also leads credence to the gospels being authored prior to 70 AD...One could go on, but my point, I feel, is made - Don't buy into liberal theologians "beliefs" so readily...

Ignorance is the negation of knowledge. Knowledge is assumed to be the truth as the light that guides us .. as the highest value of our searches. Hence, ignorance is absolute nothing, the darkness from which it originates all the torment that devastates humanity. Unbelievably, there are those who use it for the purposes of influence, domination and control and spend themselves, to believe their own lies. It seems to me that postures by evil, the dark, Machiavellian purposes, shall prevail and will endure for a long time in the history of our species.

So the Prophecy that the current Pope will be the last might come true after all.

Jesus not so "divine" after all huh?

The current set of pseudo-prophecies making their rounds in new books describing a "prophecy" by one one priest made back years ago. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the New Testament, or in fact with Jesus Christ Himself or with His apostles. To try to connect the two, Jesus with this prophecy, then, because the prophecy has not been fulfilled and use that as evidence that Jesus is not divine is asinine. That would be akin to me claiming Luccas said something, then when it doesn't happen for one to argue that Luccas never existed in the first place...

It is basically irrelevant when this text was first authored because it is clearly a Gnostic text. And Gnostic texts, beyond the sensational as in this case, have no real value because they were authored by various heretical sects for heretical purposes...It would be akin to someone, 500 years from now, finding a copy of the Mormon book known as "Another Gospel of Jesus Christ," and trying to sell their sensational find to the public as being relevant to the mainstream Church of 2014...

now see, your comment is no good either. What makes a work heretical? heresy is by definition something that goes against the current mainstream belief. any work could be considered heretical, especially if it was in opposition to the patriarchal agenda forming in the Early Church, at ANY time in its history. A collection of priests can come together and say, 'we dont like this text, its not in accordance with our view for the Church'. and regardless if it is truth or fiction, instantly heretical. do not write off such works so easily, if you assume, you make an ASS out of U and Me.

Obviously you want to play a game of sophistry, but in this case such a game has little intellectual value. Webster's says "heretical" means "of, relating to, or characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards." Consequently, because Jesus Christ and His Apostles set the orthodox teachings and beliefs of Christianity, any deviation from those teachings then was, by definition - heretical...The Gnostics of the 2nd and 3rd centuries understood this. Which explains why they were forced to use the names of various apostles and Old Testament saints as authors of their various heretical texts. When they claimed Peter or Thomas, for example, authored a text they were, in essence, attempting to argue that that particular work was orthodox because it was authored by an apostle...They were in essence lying - which is what heretics do; They try to exchange the truth for a lie...

A game of sophistry? hardly. I am only stating that just because it is/was viewed as heretical by the Church, does not change the veracity, or lack thereof, of the 'Gospel' 's contents. It is not a outlandish thing to suggest that not every document suppressed by the Church was suppressed for an upstanding and truthfully valid reason. Similarly to how banned books lists for schools operate now, the purpose of labeling this document as heretical was to weed out information that the Church did not like circulating amongst its congregation(s), for one reason or another. The purpose being that future members of the church would be unaware of its message. Why that happened, whether it was due to pure outlandish claims in said 'Gospel', the document contained uncomfortable information the Church was trying to stamp out, or perhaps that it just did not fit within the framework of the New Testament that the leaders of the Church were establishing, is not known. all that is known is that it did not make it into the New Testament, and as a consequence, we have been unaware of this document until now. The Church can be, and has been, very effective at what it does.

By your comments on Gnosticism, does that mean that the Letters of Paul to various congregations were in fact Gnostic writings? if so, how did they find their way into the New Testament?

Why or how could you imply Paul's writings were Gnostic in nature?...Gnostic "Christianity" was a homogenization of various beliefs, rituals, liturgy, cosmologies, dualism, etc of various paganisms (depending on the geographical location the Gnostic "super apostle" in question inhabited). Furthermore, all forms of Gnosticism, because of the influence of Hellenistic thought, dualism and disdain of the material world (Hellenized Gnosticism), and the Jewish disdain over the thought of God incarnate (Ebionite Gnosticism), denied the incarnation of Jesus Christ in various ingenious ways. Paul, on the other hand, taught - without question - the incarnation of the Word and Wisdom of God. How, then, could you confuse Paul's theology for being Gnostic in any way?...Or do you, which appears to be more likely, simply not know very much about the origins, history and beliefs of Gnosticism?...

He has a point; "Orthodoxy" was determined more from Paul's theology (who had more converts who called themselves "Paul's" despite his wishes) than the others'. There was a lot of diversity in the early church (still detectable in the canonical Gospels, for example) that was stamped out by the councils. This was not approved by Jesus or the unanimous decision of his apostles, but rather emerged gradually over a number of centuries following Christ's death.

The gnostic texts did not comply with the dogma the "church" was setting out! Self importance of the male species has thrown us way way way off course and it will be a horrific end to us all if you don't realize the error of christiandom immediately!

Jesus was evoluted from the previous religion Mithraism. Mithraism paid homage to the Sun of God, Christianity pays homage to the Son of God. The 12 disciples represent the 12 signs of the zodiac. From our earthly
perspective the 12 signs revolve around the Sun. Today the zodiac is represented mainly with animals. Pisces is represented by two fish, Virgo is represented by a woman holding a sheaf of corn and is sometimes represented along with 5 loaves of bread. Pisces is opposite Virgo in the zodiac and oppositions are very important in Astrology. Sounds familiar doesn't it, 5 loaves and two fish? What walks on water and what turns water to wine? Watch the Sun of God on a rippling lake surface, it walks on water. The Sun of God turns water into wine along with a few grape vines.
I could go on and on for a long time but for those that are interested I have simply made a point, worth looking into.

I don't really know how to even respond to a post like this one?...Nevertheless, if you had done your homework you would have known that Mithraism, even though it predates Christianity (but not Judaism), borrowed heavily from Christianity after the birth of the latter...The Mithridatic blood baptism, etc were all borrowed directly from Christianity and those reforms were post-christian. Thus, Mithraism, like many forms of paganism, even though many forms of paganism predate Christianity, borrowed heavily and almost exclusively from Christianity after the 2nd century A.D. - Check out the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate's pagan reforms in the 4th century, and which religion he solely immulated with his reforms for just one of many examples I could site...As for astrology - maybe, using your logic, we should say that the Church got its 12 apostles from the lunar calendar with its 12 months?...One could go on and on with such silliness, but you see my point?...

What is your education and background.. You speak as if you were there... People are entitled to their opinions and you are blatantly saying they are wrong. Opinions are not "wrong".

Following my above comment.
See the documentary 'Zeitgeist' not the Addendum.

I just love the CAPTCHAS, they challenge me.

Which is based on outdated theories; research it rather than take it at face value and you'll find that the theories that Mithras was born on 25th December and was resurrected are now discredited (it was pure speculation with no supporting evidence).

Yes, resurrection was a fairly common element of ancient myths, but scholars don't tend to agree that the Jesus story was a complete rehashing of what came before: there was a trend at the start of the last century that went crazy drawing lines between all these newly discovered ancient religions, which has been largely replaced by other methods of analysis. Unfortunately, no one told the Zeitgiest lads before they made the film... (which I think is great by the way, despite its flaws).

And the fact that "sun" and "son" sound the same in English... well I don't think I need to break that one down.

the Zeitgeist content about this topic is entirely based on the scientific work of D.M. Murdoch, which is ackknowledged by many other scholars, see here:

sorry , link was wrong ;-), here's the right one:

angieblackmon's picture

so the papyrus is real, that doesn't have to mean the information on it is though, right? i could write all types of things on a piece of paper and it could be found in thousands of years...doesn't mean what i wrote is the truth...but the paper and ink are real and from the correct time period. i feel like the main question in the story hasn't been answered...we're still stuck on if it's real, and not what does it all mean...just an observation!

love, light and blessings


Just because my enemy in Jr High wrote I was a Cheater Contemporaneously with my being in Jr High doesn't mean it's true. He didn't like me. So he wrote something. Big Deal. An old piece of writing shows up just as they are trying to destroy Christianity and it's objection to Gays.

If most people actually understood what the Gnostics were saying it would become clear that most thought Jesus was a blatant deception. They instead made assertions that have been validated by the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archeological finds. This so called "gospel" may be on old "paper" but there is zero evidence that it was an actual book. The Gnostics often used satire along with symbolism and other literary tools to expose the lies of the Church in Rome. Here is another example of what they thought about "Jesus", which by the way is a false "translation" of "Joshua"... Likewise James should be "Jacob." If the "Church" has been truthful, why lie for so long about things like names and deeds?

12. The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?"
Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

Time to get a clue, since I, the "just one," have already "returned" and my name never was Jesus.

Obviously you've never studied the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls or Gnosticism, for had you done so you could never have made the outlandish claims you just made...To say, for example, "If most people actually understood what the Gnostics were saying it would become clear that most thought Jesus was a blatant deception." When quite the opposite is clear - for ALL Gnostics believed Jesus of Nazareth was some form of the Messiah and, as a consequence, would have found your words offensive...The Dead Sea Scrolls were written hundreds of years before the origins of the Christian Gnostic movement. So how you claim "They (Gnostic texts) instead made assertions that have been validated by the contents of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archeological finds" only shows how little you understand the subject[s] at hand...You go on to write "The Gnostics often used satire along with symbolism and other literary tools to expose the lies of the Church in Rome." Considering that "The Church of Rome" was only one of five Patriarchal Sees during the era which saw so much Gnostic activity, and did not become the Papal power that it is within the worldwide church until the 7th century - a full 300 years after the various Gnostic heresies had been forced out of the Roman/Byzantine Empire - you're claim, like much you say, is simply nonsense...

Seven Star Hand's picture

I am the author of "Finishing the Mysteries of Gods and Symbols" and I have already delivered stunning and comprehensive proof of my assertions, which likewise exposes your efforts here as yet another attempt to protect the lies of those who spent the past two millennia hiding the truth about what actually occurred back then. The Gnostics were destroyed by the "Church," as were a long line of those labeled heretics, because they actually had some evidence that Christianity was a Roman deception.

I've not read your book, but authoring a book obviously does not make you an authority on the subject. Nor is your "stunning and comprehensive proof" as stunning and comprehensive as you would like to think it is...My efforts are little more than to seek out the truth - and the truth is exactly what history says it is; all Gnostics were, by definition, heretics who sought to either Judasize or Hellenize (depending on the Gnostic sect in question) the orthodox faith which Christ and His Apostles taught and died for...As for "the lies" you profess the Church has perpetrated on the world's societies for "two millennia" in suppressing the truth[s] of Gnosticism, the amount of ancient extant documents available to anyone who would seek them out leaves no room for doubt - The Church fault to protect the orthodox faith from the evil schemes of Jews and Hellenists who sought to pollute the new faith with their prejudices and presuppositions...In closing, you couldn't be more wrong, historically speaking, when you claim the various "Gnostics were destroyed by the "Church." History is very clear in how the Roman/Byzantium authorities exiled all Gnostics from the empire after 381 A.D. That much is true. But all Gnostic sects were free to flee the empire without harassment, as they ultimately did, while fleeing to Arabia and North Africa where they found refuge with like minded oriental heretics. In fact, Gnosticism took root there and eventually blossomed into its most dominant form - Islam. Had you been the authority on the subject you claim to be, you would have known this. Because you obviously lack the most basic knowledge on the subject, I invite you to read my new book on the subject which can be found at

I'm just very skeptical about the timing and content of the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife". Each fragmentary sentence adds towards a "Da Vinci code"-style interpretation, with very little "what on earth does that mean" stuff that I'd expect to see in a fragment. Also the fact that it's appeared in the wake of lots of pop-culture references to Jesus' wife, makes me wonder... there are plenty of now very rich people who would benefit enormously from a discovery like this (or even just a passing reference, let alone an "almost too good to be true" example with each line driving the point home like this does); would it be impossible for them to make a forgery?

What's more, the scholars are still divided by the evidence: the media lapped it up to begin with, then reported it a definite fake at the say-so of one lot of experts, and now declare it's definitely genuine because of a new article by the university who published it to begin with. To be certain one way or the other when it remains unclear seems more than a little premature.

Seven Star Hand's picture

Those who spend their time shoring up easily disproved lies are not truly scholars but quite the opposite. They hide the truth instead of seeking it.

I accept your challenge - Defend, then, your position which, if I am correct, states the the Church is full of lies and deceit and that the various Gnostic schools were, in fact, the true faith...Defending orthodoxy from heretics has always proven easy for me and others - because the truth, if one knows it, is always so easy to defend...

Are you asking me? I don't feel truth is about attacking or defending; neither do I think the gnostics were "right" or the orthodox "wrong": just read the gospels and you'll encounter a radically different message to the Greco-Roman philosophical construction that is the mainstream Christian theology: something that Christ himself seemed utterly unconcerned with.

For another example, towards the end of his life St. Thomas Aquinas—whose work is considered central to orthodox theology—had a personal religious experience. He immediately stopped writing the final part of his magnum opus the Summa Theologica, calling it "so much straw", but this didn't stop other theologians from using it to teach and as a basis for their own work – the blind leading the blind.

I don't imagine any of us will change the others' minds, but don't you think your quotes above, including such polemic gems as "the evil schemes of Jews" would put off most of the people you would seek to convince?

I respectfully disagree with you in that the Christian faith has - from day one - necessitated a vigorous defence from various groups who sought to annihilate it, change it, etc. I also disagree with your statement that neither Gnosticism or Orthodoxy are "right or wrong." Whether one believes in the historical orthodox faith of the Jesus Christ and His Apostles or not, they, along with the Patristic Fathers established the Church and set its beliefs in stone at the Council of Nicea with the famous Nicene Creed. For anyone - Gnostic or otherwise - to then step in and try to change things in the most drastic fashion imaginable is intellectually dishonest and has great consequences...By the time of Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century orthodoxy had been set for over a millennia, so I fail to see how you can argue that his works] were/are "central to orthodox theology?"...In closing, I am a historian and an Christian Apologists. With that being said, many times history is difficult for various people to accept. As an Irishman, it is difficult for me to accept that my ancestors, as late as the 9th century A.D., were running naked through the woods while doing human sacrifices. But historical fact is fact, nor does it make me a hater of the Irish to speak of a historically accurate fact. With that being said, my statement about the "schemes of the Jews" during the 1st and 2nd century A.D. was not meant to insult, but merely to speak about an important historical set of events. (I said the same thing about the "Hellenists" (Greeks) but I noticed you failed to mention that fact. Thus, by seizing on only one-half of my statement, the Jewish half, I have to believe you intent in doing so is less than intellectual?)


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