Biblical Archaeology Review 40:4, July/August 2014

First Person: Gold from the Temple?

By Hershel Shanks

In mid-2012 we reported that the Harvard Theological Review (HTR) had decided to withdraw from its publication schedule a paper by Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School that reported on an ancient papyrus fragment, the size of a business card, in which Jesus refers to “my wife.”a King, of course, had considered in her paper the possibility that it was a forgery. She had consulted several experts (including her own expertise), but in view of the sensitivity of the subject, HTR decided to reverse itself and withhold publication until additional testing was undertaken, even though in her paper King had emphasized that this text provided no evidence that Jesus was married, only that some early Christians may have thought so.1

Now after more than 18 months, scientists from Columbia, Harvard and MIT have reported that, in the words of the New York Times (the fragment has received much more publicity than it would have if HTR had simply printed the paper when King submitted it), “The ink and papyrus are very likely ancient and not a modern forgery.”

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