A scroll from "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife," according to Harvard. (Photo : Harvard/YouTube screenshot)
A papyrus fragment reportedly from the fourth century has led to the assumption that Jesus Christ had a wife, according to Harvard Divinity School.
According to a Harvard divinity professor Karen L. King, the papyrus features the statement, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife.'"
During a conference call with reporters, King stated, "This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that [Jesus] was married, nor does it prove that he was not married. The earliest reliable historical tradition is completely silent on that. So we're in the same position we were before it was found. We don't know if he was married or not."
The papyrus is being dubbed as "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife."
"The discovery of this new gospel offers an occasion to rethink what we thought we knew by asking what role claims about Jesus' marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family. Christian tradition preserved only those voices that claimed Jesus never married," said King. "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife now shows that some Christians thought otherwise."
King has presented her research to Rome officials where the International Congress of Coptic Studies is taking place.
King obtained the paper from someone in 2010 and didn't believe the authenticity at first. King claims the original owner found it in 1997 along with other papyrus fragments from a German owner. Teaming with Princeton University professor Anne Marie Luijendik and Roger Bagnall of the Institute for the Study of Ancient World, King now believes the fragment to be real.
According to the Huffington Post, King added that some people who have read about the papyrus have theorized that the message was describing Jesus as being married to the Christian faith, not to a woman.
"One cannot overrule that it might be him saying 'my wife as a church,' but in the context where he's talking about 'my mother' and 'my wife' and talking about 'my disciple,' the one thing you would not say is that the church would be 'my disciple,'" King said.
The Smithsonian Channel will air a special on King's findings on Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. EDT, and rebroadcasts at 11 p.m. EDT, and Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. EDT.