Mysterious ancient manuscript called the Gospel of Jesus’ wife, which suggests Christ could have been married, might possibly be authentic according to a new research.
A team of scientists from Columbia University tested the ink used to write the manuscript to refute last year’s claims by German scientist Christian Askeland that the artifact was a fake.
Askeland, a research associate with the Institute for Septuagint and Biblical Research in Wuppertal, Germany, said he found that another ancient manuscript with abstracts from the Gospel of John was a forgery, as radiocarbon dating showed the manuscript was written 1200 years ago in a rare Lycopolitan dialect of the Coptic language that had been extinct for three centuries.
He pointed out the similarities between the Gospel of John papyrus and the manuscript of the Gospel of Jesus’ wife, which in his opinion proved both were fake.
“The two Coptic fragments clearly shared the same ink, writing implement and scribal hand. The same artisan had created both essentially at the same time,” said Askeland as cited by Live Science.
The Columbia University researchers now say the inks used in the two manuscripts are different.
“In our first exploration, we did state that the inks used for the two documents of interest were quite different. The more recent results do confirm this observation strongly,” said James Yardley from the Columbia University as cited by Live Science. The scientists refused to go into details before publishing the article.
The so-called Gospel of Jesus’ wife is a business card-sized papyrus fragment written in the Coptic language that was obtained by Harvard University professor Karen King from a collector who wanted to remain unnamed. King presented the manuscript at the International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome in 2012, saying that the manuscript had been created around the fourth century AD and possibly translated from an earlier Greek document.
The manuscript is in poor condition and only small abstracts are decipherable. However, one decoded phrase has attracted much attention. “Jesus said to them, My wife ..,” the fourth line of the document reads.
Karen King, who has always believed that the Gospel of Jesus’ wife is genuine, does not assert that the manuscript is proof of Jesus’ marriage, rather she believes the document is important for understanding early Christian debates about Jesus and his life.
“This gospel fragment provides a reason to reconsider what we thought we knew by asking what the role claims of Jesus’s marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family,” King said as cited by the Independent.