Here is the fragment of the codex:
Dr. King has made several useful videos and provided other information to explain this find:
Here is a draft of her forthcoming article.
Here is a nice FAQ for journalists.
A selected roundup of some of the reactions I’ve seen:
- No, People, a 4th Century Scrap Doesn’t Prove Jesus Had a Wife
- Mark Goodacre provides a nice summary of some of the media reactions and quick thoughts on the discovery
- Fr. James Martin in the NYT: Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Christ?
- This NBC blog post has a response from Bart Ehrman
- The AP discusses the question of whether or not the text is actually authentic (with blunt comments from several scholars)
As far as I can tell, there are several main issues at stake in this discussion:
1. Is the papyrus authentic?
It is of uncertain origin, apparently brought to Dr. King by a private seller who wants to sell his collection to Harvard. There are major debates going on within archaeology and other related disciplines right now about how to use discoveries that did not come from authorized archaeological digs. Many academics think that scholars should stay away from the illegal antiquities trade and black market. The fact that it didn’t come through the proper channels, and that its value is presumably far higher now that Dr. King has written about it, makes some people suspicious about its authenticity. And even if it is authentic, some scholars want to ban writing about discoveries from unauthorized digs.
Furthermore, the Coptic script apparently looks kind of weird. A papyrologist and Coptologist say that the grammar and the handwriting seem off.
2. If the text is not a forgery (people will probably never agree about this, much like how people continue to disagree about the Secret Gospel of Mark (the text about the gay Jesus)), that raises other questions/issues:
- Can we even determine anything about the validity of what this fragment says given how small it is? It is 4 cm by 8 cm, and we have no way to tell what the context is.
- Does this prove Jesus was married? No, for those of you are concerned. However, if this text is not a forgery, it shouldn’t just be dismissed out of hand simply because it doesn’t line up with Christian tradition.
- Dr. King has suggested that perhaps this fragment might cause the Catholic Church to rethink their stance of celibacy. I find that incredibly unlikely to happen, simply because a 3rd century text of uncertain provenance is not going to be at all convincing.
- If this is part of a missing Gnostic gospel, does this make Gnostic claims about Jesus’ marital status more convincing? Probably not, unless you’re already inclined to think that the Gnostics were right.