Mrs. Jesus

The Grey Lady has a report on a recently released scrap of papyrus:

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

No clue what to make of this. Karen King is a fairly big name, but I don’t know what her reputation is among New Testament scholars. In her favor, she’s being careful to make clear that this is fourth century document and it probably tells us nothing about the historical Jesus.

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