Karen King’s Jesus Wife Papyrus

   Posted by: Rob Bowman   in apocrypha, Biblical studies

Karen L. King of Harvard made public yesterday a fragment written in Coptic that she says is a fourth-century copy of a second-century text quoting Jesus as saying, “My wife.” For the benefit of those interested in researching this topic, I present here some of the more notable articles and blogs on the subject of this fragment.

Sources Promoting the Jesus Wife Papyrus

King, Karen L., with contributions by AnneMarie Luijendijk. “‘“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…”’: A New Coptic Gospel Fragment.” Draft of King’s article to be published in early 2012 in the Harvard Theological Review.

King, Karen L. “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: A New Coptic Gospel Fragment.” Harvard Divinity School—Research Projects.

The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife. Smithsonian Channel documentary to air 30 Sept. 2012.

Sabar, Ariel. “The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text about Jesus.” Smithsonian.com, 18 Sept. 2018.

News Articles

Burke, Daniel. “‘Jesus Said to Them, “My Wife…”’ Manuscript fragment apparently from the 300s suggests debate over whether Jesus was married. Christianity Today (online), 19 Sept. 2012.

Goodstein, Laurie. “A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife.” New York Times, 18 Sept. 2012.

Jesus Wife Papyrus under Scrutiny.” Fox News Latino, 19 Sept. 2012. Experts in Coptic and papyrology question the authenticity of the fragment.

Ngowi, Rodrique. “Jesus had a wife? Bible scholars question Harvard finding.” Christian Science Monitor, 19 Sept. 2012.

Wangsness, Lisa. “Harvard Professor identifies scrap of papyrus suggesting some early Christians believed Jesus was married.” Boston Globe, 18 Sept. 2012.

Articles Noncommittal regarding or Supportive of Jesus Being Married

D’Antonio, Michael. “What if Jesus had a wife?” Huffington Post (blog), 18 Sept. 2012. Critic of the Catholic Church tries to mine the fragment for ecclesiastical hay.

DeConick, April. “Did Jesus have a wife?” The Forbidden Gospels (blog), 19 Sept. 2012. DeConick would like to think so, but she says there is no way to know.

Goodacre, Mark. “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” NT Blog, 19 Sept. 2012. Noncommittal.

Peterson, Daniel, and William L. Hamblin. “Does Papyrus Prove Jesus Was Married?” Deseret News, 23 Sept. 2012. Two Mormon scholars admit it doesn’t but imply that they wish it did because if it could be shown that Jesus was married, such a revelation “would starkly contradict historical tendencies in traditional Christianity to disparage the physical body.”

Tabor, James. “An Newly Deciphered Papyri: Does Jesus Address His Wife?” TaborBlog, 18 Sept. 2012. Written so quickly, apparently, that his title has two grammatical errors (!), Tabor may be the only biblical scholar actually hailing the fragment as evidence that Jesus was married.

Articles Denying that Jesus Was Married

Askeland, Christian. “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” Evangelical Textual Criticism (blog), 19 Sept. 2012. Coptic manuscript expert questions the authenticity of the fragment.

Bock, Darrell L. “Quick Thoughts on the New Jesus Wife Text.” Bock’s Blog, 18 Sept. 2012. Brief but sound comments by an evangelical NT scholar.

Corduan, Win. “Did Jesus Have a Wife?” Win Corduan’s Blog, 20 Sept. 2012. Thoughtful comments by an evangelical who is both a philosopher and a religious studies scholar.

Davila, Jim. “A Coptic gospel that mentions Jesus’ wife?” PaleoJudaica (blog), 19 Sept. 2012. Davila is skeptical; good overview with links to other important articles.

Gathercole, Simon, and Tyndale House. “Did Jesus Have a Wife?” Thoughtful and helpful comments by this New Testament scholar.

Heiser, Michael. “Ancient Coptic Fragment Has Jesus Alluding to His Wife.” PaleoBabble (blog), 18 Sept. 2012.

Rothfield, Larry. “The Provenance of the Jesus’ Wife Papyrus Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test.” The Punching Bag (blog), 18 Sept. 2012.

Verenna, Tom. “The ‘Wife of Jesus’ Fragment a Day Later: Some Concerns about Authenticity.” The Musings of Thomas Verenna (blog), 19 Sept. 2012.

Wallace, Daniel B. “Reality Check: The ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Coptic Fragment.” Daniel B. Wallace (blog), 21 Sept. 2012. Excellent overview of the known facts and of the likely or possible interpretations.

Watson, Francis. “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a Fake Gospel-Fragment Was Composed.” 20 Sept. 2012. Posted on MarkGoodacre.org. Argues that the fragment is dependent on the one extant Coptic manuscript of the Gospel of Thomas, and in all probability a modern forgery.

West, Jim. “No, People, a 4th Century Scrap Doesn’t Prove Jesus Had a Wife.” Zwinglius Redivivus (blog), 18 Sept. 2012. In this and three follow-up posts, biblical scholar West bluntly rejects the sensationalism over the fragment.


Last revised 23 Sept. 2012.


Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 4:38 pm and is filed under apocrypha, Biblical studies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.