Brit scholar slams papyrus text that claimed Jesus had wife as 'fake'
London: A British scholar has called the ancient papyrus, which claimed that Jesus had a wife, a “fake”.
New Testament scholar Professor Francis Watson of Durham University says the fragment, which caused an international sensation this week, is a collage of texts from the Gospel of Thomas, copied and reassembled out of order.
The 8cm by 4cm fragment supports an undercurrent in Christian thought undermining centuries of Church dogma by suggesting the Christian Messiah was not celibate but married to Mary Magdalene.
The centre of the fragment contains the bombshell phrase where Jesus, speaking to his disciples, says ''my wife'', which researchers believe refers to Magdalene.
The papyrus has sparked debate among academics but Watson believes it to be a forgery.
“The text has been constructed out of small pieces – words or phrases – culled mostly from the Coptic Gospel of Thomas... and set in new contexts,” the News agencies quoted him as writing in a paper published online.
“The author has used a “collage” or “patchwork” compositional technique, and this level of dependence on extant pieces of Coptic text is more plausibly attributed to a modern author, with limited facility in Coptic, than to an ancient one.
“I think it is more or less indisputable that I have shown how the thing was composed.
“I would be very surprised if it were not a modern forgery, although it is possible that it was composed in this way in the fourth century,” he told The News agencies.
In case the documents are genuine, they cast doubt on a centuries old official representation of Magdalene as a repentant whore and overturns the Christian ideal of sexual abstinence.