The Gnostic Gospels were forgeries

Theologians dispute: "Mrs. Jesus" -Papyrus is "unbelievable forgery"

The sheet is 7.5 by four centimeters in size and contains only eight broken lines in the Coptic, i.e. ancient Egyptian, language: But the words "Jesus said to you, 'my wife'" alone were enough to turn the papyrus scrap into a world sensation do.

In September 2012, the historian of religion Karen Leigh King presented the text for the first time at a conference in Rome. At the beginning of April 2014, she followed up with the results of a radiocarbon analysis. The result was that the find was genuine and had to be dated between 659 and 859.

All the more serious is the objection that researchers at the University of Münster are now raising: The professor from Harvard University has been “hit by an unbelievable forgery”, says the American coptologist and visiting researcher at the University of Münster, Christian Askeland. The text was compiled from known ancient evidence.

Askeland is a text researcher with a focus on Coptic Bible texts. He did his doctorate on the Coptic translation of the Gospel of John. According to Askeland and his colleague Stephen Emmel from Münster, King's fragment is probably ancient, but has only been described in the past ten years. “I think the evidence is absolutely certain,” says Emmel, professor at the university's Institute of Egyptology and Coptic Studies.

Askeland found that a second fragment of King's research materials was constructed similarly to the "Ms. Jesus" papyrus and was written with the same writing implement and ink. The fragment from a Coptic translation of the Gospel of John was obviously a forgery, which was copied to the letter from real originals of the fourth century. But then the “Frau Jesu” fragment must necessarily also be wrong.

Papyrus scraps are easy to come by today

According to the researchers' findings, the piece of text was pieced together from passages from the Gospel of Thomas published on the Internet in 2002. That also explains why the alleged papyrus find only appeared two years ago, says Emmel. However, this argument raises the question of why Karen Leigh King and her team have apparently remained hidden from this twist.

Nevertheless, the two coptologists do not want to accuse their renowned colleague from Harvard of deliberate misinterpretation. King's measurements are presumably correct. Nobody doubted that the papyrus itself was real, says Emmel. But real pieces of papyrus can easily be obtained today on Ebay.

The two Münster scientists can only speculate about the motives of the forger (s). Perhaps the forger hoped to get a high price for the pieces. "It is also possible that someone wanted to strengthen the thesis of a married Jesus in this way."

Struggle for biblical interpretations

Karen Leigh King stated that she received the fragment from a private collector in 2011. She has also always distanced herself from the popular interpretation that the text "proves" that Jesus was married.