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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014
Commentary

A fragment of fact

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 02:10 PM

Skeptical reactions were reported about the papyrus fragment referring to Jesus' "wife":

"Stephen Emmel, a professor of Coptology at the University of Muenster who was on the international advisory panel that reviewed the 2006 discovery of the Gospel of Judas, said the text accurately quotes Jesus as saying 'my wife.' But he questioned whether the document was authentic.

" 'There's something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow,' he said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.

"Another participant at the congress, Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, was more blunt.

" 'I would say it's a forgery. The script doesn't look authentic' when compared to other samples of Coptic papyrus script dated to the 4th century, he said."

There have been many controversial and disputed findings over the years, most recently that of the James ossuary.

Even if this one is authentic, there's a serious question about what reliable information it imparts. The answer probably is none whatsoever.

The church long ago sorted out what it considered valid texts from what it viewed as fakes, fables and falsehoods. There are so-called Christian writings that contain all kinds of fanciful stories and beliefs that the church rejected.

Was Jesus married? There is no reference in the canon to a wife. Nor is there any explicit statement that he wasn't married.

Did Jesus have female disciples? Not among the 12 apostles, but Gospel references make clear that Jesus had many other disciples, who were not named and not identified by gender. So maybe he did.

I don't think scholars will learn much from this new discovery.

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