The so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” is back in the news and back in public conversation. The story first broke in a flurry of sensationalism back in September of 2012 when Smithsonian magazine declared that a papyrus fragment had been found which would “send jolts through the world of biblical scholarship.” Well, it didn’t jolt much of anything.
In 2012 Professor Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School announced that a papyrus fragment that had come into her supervision made reference to Jesus having a wife. Professor King announced that the papyrus fragment included the words, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife.’” Smithsonian, which also produced a major television program on the finding, promised that the fragment would “send shock waves through the Christian world.”
As might be expected, numerous major media outlets jumped on the story. The Telegraph [London] ran a headline that stated: “Ancient Papyrus Could Be Evidence that Jesus Had a Wife.” In reality, even if the fragment is authentic in terms of dating to ancient times, the fragment revealed nothing that would have jolted anyone familiar with the early centuries of Christianity. The fragment of papyrus contained only about 30 Coptic words in eight fragmentary lines of writing.
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