BOSTON (TheBlaze/AP) — A Harvard University professor has unveiled a fourth century fragment of papyrus that she says is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife.
Karen King, an expert in the history of Christianity, says the text contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to ‘‘my wife,’’ whom he identified as Mary. King says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.
King unveiled the fragment of the ‘‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’’ in Rome on Tuesday. She says it doesn’t prove Jesus was married but speaks to issues of family and marriage that faced Christians.
King says on a Harvard website that the dialogue includes the disciples discussing whether Mary is worthy and Jesus saying ‘‘she can be my disciple.’’
“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” King told The New York Times. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”
King claims she received an email in 2010 from a private collector who requested she translate the ancient text. King, 58, has reportedly written books on the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, Gnosticism and women in antiquity.
The man who actually made the discovery asked not be be identified because, “He doesn’t want to be hounded by people who want to buy this,” King said.
Though many questions still remain, the discovery could again bring up theories that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’s wife and whether he had a female disciple.