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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Coptic scholar Dr. Alberto Camplani said he is suspicious because it apparently had been bought and sold on the highly questionable

antiquities market – plagued by grave robbers and forgers – and not through a legitimate archeological dig. Several scholars told the Times that Dr. King should not have agreed to study the fragment without verifying that it was not obtained illegally.

“It’s usually the science that precedes the big announcements,” noted Evans. “These things aren’t usually left untested, especially where a papyrologist has not uncovered it in Egypt.”

“The circumstances in which it’s come to light really require all scholars to be really cautious about how we proceed,” said Carl R. Holladay, professor of New Testament studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

“Such an object demands that numerous precautions be taken to establish its reliability and exclude the possibility of forgery,” wrote Dr. Camplani, who was also critical of the “news media frenzy precipitated by the ‘quick to shock’ assertion that Jesus may have been married,” noted Povoledo. Dr. Camplani suggested that the sensationalistic headlines could have been avoided.

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Dr. King is already held in suspicion by conservative religious scholars for her extensive writing about the “Gospels” of Mary, Judas and Philip, rejected as fakes by most biblical academics.

Where did she get the scrap of papyrus? Two years ago, Dr. King says, she received an e-mail from an antiquities collector who asked her to translate a fragment that contained a reference to Jesus’ wife. Dr. King says the owner does not know the history of the fragment and has asked to remain anonymous.

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