Scientists have learned a bit more about a disputed scrap of papyrus known as the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife," that some folks think could be evidence that Jesus Christ was married. Researchers from Columbia, Harvard and MIT have concluded that it is likely that the piece of paper really is ancient and is from a period of time before the fourth and eighth centuries.
The "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" has garnered a lot of attention because it contains phrases where Jesus refers to his wife: "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'" and "she will be able to be my disciple." (Though there is also dispute about whether "my wife" really means what people today think it means.) If the document was found to be "real", it could really change everything we think we know about Jesus.
The Vatican had previously said the document was a fake, and there have been scholars who say that the scrap of papyrus, like many purported religious artifacts, was created years after its supposed origin, and is meant to deceive and affect modern debate.
Now, with this new information, it looks like it could be the contemporary artifact it appears to be. To be clear, the test results prove the document's age, but it doesn't prove that Jesus had a wife or female disciples. Karen L. King, the historian at Harvard Divinity School who brought attention to the papyrus, explained that the document should be taken as evidence that Christians were discussing things like celibacy, sex, and marriage, rather than factual evidence of female disciples and a Mrs. Jesus Christ, The New York Times reports.
"The main thing was to see, did somebody doctor this up?" Timothy M. Swager, a chemistry professor who studied the document explained. "And there is absolutely no evidence for that. It would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible."