Egypt's wheat reserves in question    47th Cairo International Book Fair comes to an end    Culture Minister to attend Cinema Film Association Festival's closing ceremony    No injury scare for Ahly's Evouna after Cairo derby win    Berlin film fest opens with Clooney -- and eye on refugees    Seasonal fall in vegetable prices behind decline in inflation in January    US envoy says IS group in Libya biggest cause for concern    DFB launches legal proceedings against Beckenbauer, FIFA    Three men reappear in Alexandrian police station after their enforced disappearance    Appointed MP Siam refuses to retract his resignation    Mubarak-era minister El-Fekki acquitted of illicit gains charges    9 policemen referred to prosecution in assault of Matariya doctors' investigation    NBE invested EGP 4bn into tourism after 25 January Revolution    Regeni was killed in a house in downtown Cairo: source    Egyptian-US relations keystone of our foreign policy over past decades: Shoukry    Egypt's stock records gains due to foreigners' purchases    Egypt court acquits Mubarak's information minister of corruption charges    Give a black manager a chance: Arsenal star    Egypt supports UN-backed efforts to form national unity government in Libya: Al-Sisi    Egyptian, Sudanese, Ethiopian irrigation ministers meet to review French companies' offer    India launches campaign for "deworming" millions of children    Iran to purchase Sukhoi-30 fighter jets from Russia    Bulaq rioters face trial Wednesday    Kuwait backs alliances against Islamic State, no troops though    Three soldiers were injured in a terrorist attack in Sinai    Egypt to launch commodities exchange in 2016- supply minister    PHOTO GALLERY: 'Ballet Tango, Buenos Aires' show opened at Egypt's stages    Former NYC Ballet principal dancer Violette Verdy, 82, dies    'Game changers' Ozil and Sanchez vital to title push: Arsenal's Rosicky    UK, Egypt in continues negotiations to restore flights- British ambassador    Sanders defeats Clinton, Trump wins in New Hampshire    German authorities say no one missing in deadly train crash    Tennis: Djokovic dominant but it's still tight at the top - Henman    Egyptian film wins 6 awards at Cinema Film Association Festival    China confirms first case of Zika virus: Xinhua    Egypt MP Emad Gad asks parliament to change his political affiliation    Beltone Financial prepares IPOs in EGX for more than $1.8bn    Three Girls: Novel sheds lights on misconception of freedom in society    Ahly vs. Zamalek derby 111 kicks off at 7 p.m. today    Tayeb demanded a report about Burma's Muslims before his visit to Asia    DEC organizes World Development Report 2016-Digital Dividends' launch seminar    Asia stocks down for 3rd day, Yellen testimony awaited    Prosecution hastens forensic report on Giulio Regeni death    Head of Parliament to review MP's resignation    Committee of archaeologists to examine pieces controlled before being smuggled    Zamalek fans protest to commemorate air defense stadium incident    Police declare that no fans will be allowed to enter Al-Ahly vs Al-Zamalek match    Security measures at archaeological areas after pyramids stones sale    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Critics scrutinize claim that ancient papyrus suggests Jesus had a wife
Is a scrap of papyrus suggesting that Jesus had a wife authentic?
Published in Ahram Online on 20 - 09 - 2012

Scholars on Wednesday questioned the much-publicized discovery by a Harvard scholar that a 4th century fragment of papyrus provided the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus was married.
And experts in the illicit antiquities trade also wondered about the motive of the fragment's anonymous owner, noting that the document's value has likely increased amid the publicity of the still-unproven find.
Karen King, a professor of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, announced the finding Tuesday at an international congress on Coptic studies in Rome. The text, written in Coptic and probably translated from a 2nd century Greek text, contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to "my wife" whom he identifies as Mary.
King's paper, and the front-page attention it received in some U.S. newspapers that got advance word about it, was a hot topic of conversation Wednesday at the conference.
Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was unmarried, although there is no reliable historical evidence to support that, King said. Any evidence pointing to whether Jesus was married or had a female disciple could have ripple effects in current debates over the role of women in the church.
Stephen Emmel, a professor of Coptology at the University of Muenster who was on the international advisory panel that reviewed the 2006 discovery of the Gospel of Judas, said the text accurately quotes Jesus as saying "my wife." But he questioned whether the document was authentic.
"There's something about this fragment in its appearance and also in the grammar of the Coptic that strikes me as being not completely convincing somehow," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the conference.
Another participant at the congress, Alin Suciu, a papyrologist at the University of Hamburg, was more blunt.
"I would say it's a forgery. The script doesn't look authentic" when compared to other samples of Coptic papyrus script dated to the 4th century, he said.
King acknowledged Wednesday that questions remain about the fragment, and she welcomed the feedback from her colleagues. She said she planned to subject the document to ink tests to determine if the chemical components match those used in antiquity.
"We still have some work to do, testing the ink and so on and so forth, but what is exciting about this fragment is that it's the first case we have of Christians claiming that Jesus had a wife," she said.
She stressed that the text, assuming it's authentic, doesn't provide any historical evidence that Jesus was actually married, only that some two centuries after he died, some early Christians believed he had a wife.
Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist, said there was no way to evaluate the significance of the fragment because it has no context. It's a partial text and tiny, measuring 4 centimeters by 8 centimeters (1.5 inches by 3 inches), about the size of a small cellphone.
"There are thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things," said Funk, co-director of a project editing the Nag Hammadi Coptic library at Laval University in Quebec. "It can be anything."
He, too, doubted the authenticity, saying the form of the fragment was "suspicious."
Ancient papyrus fragments have been frequently cut up by unscrupulous antiquities dealers seeking to make more money.
An anonymous collector brought King the fragment in December 2011, seeking her help in translating and understanding it. In March, she brought it to two papyrologists who determined it was very likely authentic.
On Tuesday, Harvard Divinity School announced the finding to great fanfare and said King's paper would be published in January's Harvard Theological Review. Harvard said the fragment most likely came from Egypt, and that its earliest documentation is from the early 1980s indicating that a now-deceased professor in Germany thought it evidence of a possible marriage of Jesus.
Some archaeologists were quick to question Harvard's ethics, noting that the fragment has no known provenance, or history of where it's been, and that its current owner may have a financial interest in the publicity being generated about it.
King has said the owner wants to sell his collection to Harvard.
"There are all sorts of really dodgy things about this," said David Gill, professor of archaeological heritage at University Campus Suffolk and author of the Looting Matters blog, which closely follows the illicit trade in antiquities. "This looks to me as if any sensible, responsible academic would keep their distance from it."
He cited the ongoing debate in academia over publishing articles about possibly dubiously obtained antiquities, thus potentially fueling the illicit market.
The Archaeological Institute of America, for example, won't publish articles in its journal announcing the discovery of antiquities without a proven provenance that were acquired after a UNESCO convention fighting the illicit trade went into effect in 1973.
Similarly, many American museums have adopted policies to no longer acquire antiquities without a provenance, after being slapped with successful efforts by countries like Italy to reclaim looted treasures.
Archaeologists also complain that the looting of antiquities removes them from their historical context, depriving scholars of a wealth of information.
However, AnneMarie Luijendijk, the Princeton University expert whom King consulted to authenticate the papyrus, said the fragment fit all the rules and criteria established by the International Association of Papyrologists. She noted that papyrus fragments frequently don't have a provenance, simply because so many were removed from Egypt before such issues were of concern.
She acknowledged the dilemma about buying such antiquities but said refraining from publishing articles about them is another matter.
"You wouldn't let an important new text go to waste," she said.
Hany Sadak, the director general of the Coptic Museum in Cairo, said the fragment's existence was unknown to Egypt's antiquities authorities until news articles this week.
"I personally think, as a researcher, that the paper is not authentic because it was, if it had been in Egypt before, we would have known of it and we would have heard of it before it left Egypt," he said.


Clic here to read the story from its source.