"Ready for dinner"
Harvard historian and professor of divinity Karen L. King says that a 4 by 8 centimeter scrap of papyrus–which experts and linguists so far feel is authentic–mentions Jesus and his wife in Coptic. The New York Times reports:
A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’”
“The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.
Though scholars may have just rehashed the intense debate about whether or not Jesus had a wife, Twitter reactions are mixed between amazed–author Anne Rice tweeted, “A tiny fragment of a coptic papyrus indicates Jesus had a wife!”–and amused. What does this discovery mean in the context of 2012?:
so Jesus had a wife huh.. next thing you know Jesus really was black— guy (@hewhoischill) September 18, 2012
Waiting for my hair to be blown back by collective Christian sigh of relief that Jesus Christ was not gay. http://t.co/c1RMHNc2— Holly Dunsworth (@HollyDunsworth) September 18, 2012
So Jesus's wife secretly videotaped Romney or something?— Charles Homans (@chashomans) September 18, 2012
In case you were worried public debate had become too tame & agreeable, someone says they found evidence of Jesus' wife http://t.co/NqjJ756f— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 18, 2012
Before everyone gets riled up, King says that although this may be the first source from humanity’s distant past to mention Jesus having a wife, the text was most likely written long after Jesus had lived. Though exciting, the document is not proof that Jesus had a wife.
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.More Prachi Gupta.