A previously unknown scrap of ancient papyrus written in ancient Coptic is pictured in this undated handout photo. The fourth-century text provides the first known piece of evidence that some early followers of Jesus proposed that he was married.
Catholic News Service
An ancient fragment of papyrus touted as the first discovered reference to Jesus’ wife is a forgery, says the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
The small piece of a page, which a Harvard scholar says is a 4th century Coptic Christian gospel from Egypt, includes the unfinished sentence, “Jesus said to them, my wife. . .” The newspaper published a lengthy analysis by Alberto Camplani, an ancient manuscripts expert at Rome’s La Sapienza university. Camplani expressed doubts about authenticity and advised caution. Many scholars agree with Camplani, saying the script is clumsy and perhaps a rearrangement of a well-known Coptic Christian text. One professor at University of Durham thinks it was a blank piece of papyrus written on in the 20th or 21st century.
But a Princeton expert is convinced of authenticity. “We can see that by the way the ink is preserved on the papyrus and also the way the papyrus has faded and also the way the papyrus has become very fragmentary, which is actually in line with a lot of other papyri we have also from the New Testament,” AnneMarie Luijendijk told Reuters.