A Harvard University professor has unveiled a fourth-century fragment of papyrus she said is the only existing ancient text quoting Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife.
Karen King, an expert in the history of Christianity, said the text contains a dialogue in which Jesus refers to “my wife”, whom he identifies as Mary. King says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.
King helped translate and unveiled the tiny fragment at a conference of Coptic experts in Rome. She said it doesn’t prove Jesus was married but speaks to issues of family and marriage that faced Christians.
Four words in the 3.8 x 7.6cm fragment provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, King said. Those words, written in a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, translate to “Jesus said to them, my wife,” King said in a statement.
Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was unmarried even though there was no reliable historical evidence to support that, King said.