‘Jesus wife’ Coptic papyrus is a fake, declares Vatican newspaper

Citing concerns about fragment’s authenticity and its origin, the paper also criticized Harvard, a Vatican newspaper declared the so-called “Jesus wife” papyrus a fake.

Nine days after early Christianity scholar Karen King announced the discovery of an ancient text suggesting that some Christians believed Jesus was married, the debate has been seemingly nonstop about the Coptic fragment’s authenticity and its role in understanding Jesus’ life.

“The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article Thursday by leading Coptic scholar Alberto Camplani and an accompanying editorial by the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, an expert in early Christianity. They both cited concerns expressed by other scholars about the fragment’s authenticity and the fact that it was purchased on the market without a known archaeological provenance,” the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Last week, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King cited the ancient text during a presentation at a conference for Coptic scholars in Rome. The text while not declaring that he was married, suggests some early Christians believed he had a wife.

Camplani, a professor at Rome’s La Sapienza university who helped organize Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, said he and other attendees questioned King’s understanding of the text.

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Read Tom Bartlett’s take in The Chronicle of Higher Education