Gnostic Hoax: Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Papyrus Fragment Deemed a Fake

Professor Karen King | Gospel Jesus Wife Forgery

Once again Harvard Professor Karen King has tried to discredit the Bible and was wrong.

Well, it only took a matter of days. As we first reported in our article The Gospel of Jesus Wife Debunked, the papyrus fragment “discovered” by Harvard Professor Karen King that allegedly made reference to Jesus Christ having a wife has now been declared a forgery by prominent scholars and academics. Despite the lack of time for any professional or academic scrutiny, the media ran wild with the story of a small 4th century fragment that was being hyped as changing Christianity and rekindling the “debate” about whether Jesus was married. Now an expert in ancient Gnostic manuscripts and Coptic has dubbed the fragment a forgery made by an amateur. And even King herself has admitted that that she has doubts as to its authenticity.
In our article, we detailed the immediate doubts from academics and experts in the field who viewed the fragment. Additionally, we pointed out the shoddy work of translation King has done in the past with the Gnostic Gospel of Judas, where the entire thesis of the book (that Judas was not evil but a favorite disciple of Jesus) was wrong based on an incredibly amateurish mistranslation. The errors continue once again with the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. In an academic paper published online, entitled: The Gospel Of Jesus Wife: How a Fake-Gospel Fragment Was ComposedProfessor Francis Watson of Durham University in the United Kingdom, described the fragment as not being a part of any original text, but rather a manufactured fragment, that cribbed random lines from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas to make it seem like Jesus had a wife. In methodical fashion, analyzing every line of Coptic in the fragment, and the holding it in comparison to the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Professor Watson, an expert in Biblical interpretation and New Testament scholarship, wrote:

“I shall argue here that scepticism is exactly the right attitude. The text has been constructed out of small pieces – words or phrases – culled from the Coptic Gospel of Thomas (GTh), especially Sayings 30, 45, 101 and 114, and set in new contexts. This is most probably the compositional procedure of a modern author who is not a native speaker of Coptic.”

“The eight lines of GJW recto, are derived from GTH, virtually in their entirety, making dependence certain – a highly unusual dependence on words more than sense. The compiler has used a “collage” or “patchwork” compositional technique


In expected fashion, the same media outlets that went out of their way to prematurely hype this “discovery” as challenging “the very foundation of Christian thinking,” they have not given its exposure as a hoax similar coverage. As the Newsbusters website reports:

“The broadcast networks trumpeted the existence and import of the papyrus with breathless excitement. ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas even went so far as to proclaim: “Real-life Da Vinci Code. Christianity’s biggest mysteries about to be solved. The tiny scrap of paper that could prove Jesus had a wife. Why this faded fragment might solve an age-old question.” Needless to say, the networks offered no correction to their story after doubts were raised about the authenticity of the artifact.

Print and online outlets, after their initial excitement, did get around to noting the mounting evidence against the papyrus. The New York Times, which broke the coverage of the artifact on its front page on September 19, buried updates about the papyrus on page 4 and page 14.

The Huffington Post’s Jaweed Kaleem reported that “‘Jesus Wife’ Research Leads to Suspicions that Artifact is a Fake” – on September 26, eight days after his initial piece came out on the scrap. (Of course, this didn’t stop the Huffington Post from publishing a slew of posts about the implications of a married Jesus.)” (source)

Additionally, the Smithsonian Institute, which has planned a documentary on the forged fragment featuring Professor King, has now cancelled production.

Once again, a challenge to the Bible’s account has been met with amazement and hype from the media only to fizzle out days after its discovery. The unbelieving world will remain hostile to the Bible and continue to try to cast doubt in the minds of society. Christians need to be all the more forceful in sharing the Gospel and believing in God’s truths. Without a doubt, the next “discovery” will come soon enough. And Christians should be ready to defend and contend for the faith until it is debunked.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. — Isaiah 40

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  1. In my personal experience, I’ve seen a lot more people try disproving the God of the Bible than any other deity. It’s interesting, really, how our God has become the most controversial, and probably the most hated.


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