The finding of the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife caused a furore in religious circles, but now Karen King says it’s a hoax
A papyrus script which has been referred to as the ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ for four years is likely a hoax, says the academic who made it public.
The artefact was through to refer to the son of God having taken a wife written in ancient Coptic script.
But now Karen King, a professor of Christianity at Harvard University who defended the business card-sized scrap after it was given to her in 2012, says it’s probably a fake.
The Ecclesiastical History lecturer claimed she was given the piece five years ago by an anonymous man who chose to unmask himself this week.
Walter Fritz, a Florida native with reported interests in a variety of subjects including Egyptology, vehicle parts and pornography, wrote to The Atlantic to reveal himself and the source of the piece.
In the letter he certified that he is the sole owner of the papyrus fragment and that neither he nor “any third parties have forged, altered, or manipulated the fragment and/or its inscription in any way since it was acquired by me”.
Now, having read an investigation into the Jesus papyrus by reporter Ariel Sabar, Professor King has stated: “It tips the balance towards forgery.”
Mr Fritz revealed himself as the man who previously told Professor King that the papyrus was sold to him by a man called Hans Ulrich Laukamp on November 12, 1999.
The controversy around the papyrus and its authenticity hinged on the teachings of the church, which would have been discredited had Jesus been shown to have married.
But experts had questioned errors in Coptic grammar and apparent similarities with the Gospel of Thomas
Professor King had maintained a belief in the findings of carbon dating and scientific tests run by experts at MIT, Harvard, and Columbia University.
Sabar’s report, though, showed more background details about Mr Fritz which Professor King says she was unaware of.
These included his work at the Free University’s Egyptology institute and a formal study of Coptic – as well as being a pornographic filmmaker who cast his wife as a blue movie star.
Professor King, who believed he was a wealthy family man, admitted to The Atlantic : “”I had no idea about this guy, obviously. He lied to me.”
Mr Fritz has not yet commented on the story.