'Jesus Wife' Tale Takes a Turn for the Bizarre

Harvard prof backtracks after learning of shady pornographer's central role
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2016 11:27 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2016 3:50 PM CDT
'Jesus Wife' Tale Takes a Turn for the Bizarre
This 2012 photo released by Harvard University shows a fragment of papyrus that purportedly quotes Jesus talking about his wife.   (AP Photo/Harvard University, Karen L. King)

The question of whether Jesus was married became a hot topic in academic circles when a papyrus fragment surfaced in which he's quoted as talking about his wife. A Harvard professor was convinced enough to present an academic paper on the subject, though skeptics abounded about the fragment's authenticity. Now the Atlantic digs into the matter with an utterly fascinating investigative story, one that delves not so much into the scientific particulars but into the background of the man who provided the fragment to Harvard's Karen King. His name is Walter Fritz, a native of Germany who now lives in Florida, and that background is fishy indeed. While King allowed Fritz to remain anonymous, Fritz eventually concedes to Ariel Sabar of the Atlantic that he is indeed the owner of the controversial fragment.

Fritz's background includes a stint as head of a museum in the former East Germany that he left amid the suspicious disappearance of pricey artifacts. There's also the porn business he started that centered around his wife, who, he claims, speaks a strange tongue, possibly Aramaic, during sex. Plus there's the mountain of inconsistencies in his story about how he acquired the fragment, not to mention his background studying the ancient language of Coptic that would have given him the know-how to create a forgery. Also: During an interview, he floated a proposition to Sabar about collaborating on a book in which the writer would "have to make a lot of stuff up." There's much more. The bottom line: In a follow-up story, King herself says Fritz misrepresented himself to her, and she now concedes that the fragment is probably a forgery. Click to read the full story. (More Jesus Christ stories.)

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