Columbia University scientists analyzed the highly controversial manuscript called the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” running new tests on the ancient document’s ink, in a new report that will be published soon in a peer-reviewed journal.
The business card-sized papyrus fragment, which is written in the Coptic language and contains a line that reads “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’,” alluding to a woman named “Mary,” possibly Mary Magdalene, has been dated around the fourth century AD by Harvard University professor Karen King.
King decided to present the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” a document that she had obtained from a donor, at the International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome in 2012, in her effort to highlight the importance of 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 role claims of Jesus’ marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy and family,” King claimed regarding the mysterious ancient manuscript.
Meanwhile, German scientist Christian Askeland from the Institute for Septuagint and Biblical Research in Wuppertal, Germany, stated last year that the Coptic fragment of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” and another ancient manuscript, the “Gospel of John,” may be simple forgeries, as they share significant similarities, such as “the same ink, writing implement and scribal hand.”
“In our first exploration, we did state that the ink used for the two documents of interest [the John papyrus and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife] was quite different,” Columbia researcher James Yardley revealed to Live Science, refuting Askeland’s previous claims, while he added: “The more recent results do confirm this observation strongly.”