Jesus' 'Wife' Papyrus Faces Growing Doubt

Alleged former owner had no interest in antiquities: insiders

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 3, 2014 5:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – A papyrus suggesting Jesus had a wife has sparked continuing controversy since it was announced in 2012 in the Harvard Theological Review. Now, Live Science explains that the evidence against the authenticity of the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" is mounting. Among the site's findings and observations:

  • The supposed former owner of the papyrus, one Hans-Ulrich Laukamp, had no interest in antiquities, say two sources: the representative of his estate and a business associate. What's more, he's said to have obtained the papyrus in East Germany in 1963—a bit fishy since he was living on the other side of the Berlin Wall at the time.

  • Another papyrus reportedly owned by Laukamp and given to Harvard is fake, a researcher has asserted. It looks a lot like the "Gospel," with similar handwriting and ink.
  • Other experts are raising doubts, rather forcefully. "When is this papyrological pantomime, this Keystone Coptic, this academic farce, this philological burlesque finally going to stop?" asks a Brown University researcher. Asks another authority: "At what point do we stop claiming another lottery win and just accept that the whole thing is a forgery?"
  • The story has started "to crumble faster than an ancient papyrus exposed in the windy Sudan," writes Jerry Pattengale in the Wall Street Journal. Specialists are saying that Harvard professor Karen King and colleagues "were the victims of an elaborate ruse," and Pattengale doesn't blame King—it's the media's "rush … to embrace the idea" that's of more concern. Click for his full piece.

This Sept. 5, 2012 file photo shows a fragment of the papyrus in question.   (AP Photo/Harvard University, Karen L. King, File)
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