Biblical Archaeology Review 40:1, January/February 2014

Strata: “Jesus’ Wife” Update

After accepting it for publication, the Harvard Theological Review (HTR) withdrew from its publication schedule an article by Harvard professor Karen King about an ancient papyrus fragment in which Jesus refers to “my wife” (see the First Person column). Professor King calls the papyrus the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” King says that the papyrus dates to the fourth century, but the text was probably written in the second century. Although it provides no evidence that Jesus was married, it does indicate that at the time some people thought he had been married.

HTR withdrew publication because it says more testing for authenticity is required before the article can be published, despite the fact that leading papyrologists and textual scholars had declared the papyrus authentic.a

At the same time that HTR withdrew the article from its publication schedule, Smithsonian television took the unusual step of suspending the airing of a completed documentary about the “Jesus’ Wife” papyrus. Clearly, powerful forces are at work.

HTR refused to tell BAR what testing was going to be performed or who would be doing the testing. What it did say (through spokesperson Kathryn Dodgson) is that “the various [test] reports” would be ready for release “hopefully by early to mid-summer [2013].”b

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