Has a Harvard professor proved Jesus had a wife?

Amid the flash of cameras and hubbub of the excited news media, Dr. Karen King unveiled a tiny fragment of an ancient scroll, saying she was publicizing her finding so her academic colleagues could weigh in. And in an uproar, they have.

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The Smithsonian Channel was the first to back away from the fragment – postponing the broadcast of a quickly thrown-together

documentary, citing the many doubts of its authenticity, according to USA Today.

Jesus with little children

Next came reports in the Huffington Post that the Harvard Theological Review had postponed publishing King’s 52-page paper on the fragment because of doubts over whether the papyrus is genuine. Helmut Koester, a professor emeritus of Harvard Divinity School and a former 25-year editor of the journal, told the Post’s Jaweed Kaleem that the Journal  ”did not want to publish because of doubts from two respected scholars.”

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“Koester, who specializes in early Christianity and early Christian archaeology,” noted Kaleem, “added that after seeing an evaluation of King’s work from a colleague in the field, he was ‘absolutely convinced that this is a modern forgery.’”

Craig Evans, a New Testament professor at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, is one of the scholars who has questions. Evans blogged on Near Emmaus, a biblical history website, that he thought “the papyrus itself is probably quite old, perhaps fourth or fifth century, but the oddly written letters are probably modern and probably reflect recent interest in Jesus and Mary Magdalene,” reported Kaleem.

The Associated Press quoted several of Dr. King’s colleagues as saying that the handwriting, grammar and shape of the fragment makes them suspect it was forged.

Will the papyrus be exposed as a forgery -- like the Jehoash tablet?

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