Did Jesus have a wife? No, of course not! Though, as you may remember, that was what Dan Brown’s controversial novel The Da Vinci Code claimed. The internet has been abuzz the last 24 hours about a small papyrus fragment written in Coptic that professor Karen L. King of Harvard has now published. The New York Times and other medial outlets have featured stories about the fragment that King has titled “The Gospel of Jesus Wife” because it apparently contains the phrase “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife….’” King dates the fragment from the 4th century, and it is just that, a small fragment, not a Gospel in any true sense. More information can be found on the Harvard web site and in her scholarly paper.
Actually, it is not news that Gnostic heretics in the early centuries believed that Jesus had a wife, so this papyrus fragment may be a confirmation of that heresy. But a number of scholars have already suggested that the papyrus is fake. Time may tell. For more details and analysis, see the comments by Todd Bolen, Christian Askeland, Mark Roberts, and the folks at Tyndale House.