For years, some liberal scholars have used a small piece of papyrus to claim that the Gospels cover up an important detail about Jesus’ life. This fragment—named the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife—has been dated to 1,300 years ago and seems to indicate that Jesus was married. In a response to this find when it was first announced in 2012, we stated that the fragment was likely a fake, but even if it were legitimate, it would in no way prove that Jesus was married. Well, the news has been buzzing lately with a new announcement about this papyrus.
A piece of investigative journalism that appeared in The Atlantic painstakingly traced the mysterious provenance (the place of origin and record of ownership) of the papyrus before it came into the hands of Dr. Karen King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School who announced the papyrus, gave it its provocative title, and then staunchly defended it against the many critics of its authenticity. The journalist discovered that the provenance of this so-called artifact "tips the balance towards forgery,” according to King. This is quite an understatement by King, given the details of the case. It now appears the document isn’t authentic at all but is indeed a modern forgery.
Skeptics of the Bible used this tiny fragment of text to try to prove that the Gospels contained an inaccurate or fragmentary account of Jesus’ life. But of course, the Bible was right all along. Now, nowhere does Scripture state, “Jesus was not married.” But none of the Gospel writers—among whom were eyewitnesses and a historian who interviewed eyewitnesses—mention a wife and neither do any of the other New Testament writers. And besides, Jesus’ bride is the church (Ephesians 5:23–32), not a woman here on earth.
Whenever a new find emerges that skeptics claim contradicts the Bible or disproves something in it, we need to trust God’s Word. Eventually time will show that God’s Word was right all along. As Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be true but every man a liar.” We can always trust God’s Word, from the very beginning.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.