Is the fragment of the gospel of the wife of Jesus authentic?

A few days ago a “sensational” article was published on the internet. This one announced that the authenticity of the fragment of the gospel of the wife of Jesus had just been confirmed by scientists and that it "was therefore not a forgery".

and article did not fail to generate controversy, but many people did not necessarily understand what it was about. This is why it seems interesting to me to provide an update on this subject.

A few years ago, researchers discovered the existence of a Coptic fragment from a private collection. This fragment, which probably belongs to an apocryphal gospel, relates words of Jesus where he said: “My wife…”.

The first findings indicated that the fragment dated from medieval times, but some researchers have questioned this dating and considered that it was simply a forgery made in contemporary times. It should indeed be known that these embezzlements are unfortunately quite frequent, since the resale of fake antiques can bring in a lot of money.

Various scientific tests were therefore carried out to verify whether the fragment actually dated from the Middle Ages. However, it seems that these studies revealed that this was indeed the case. The result is, however, disputed by other people. who denounce the work of a clever forger.

Thus, when the article affirms that the fragment is authentic, it means that it is not a forgery made in contemporary times (19th or 20th century), but that it does date from the 7th or 8th century. On the other hand, that does not mean absolutely that its content, the text which appears on the fragment, is historical.

In fact, we know that as early as the 2nd or 3rd century certain groups fabricated false gospels to justify different doctrines they invented. These are the groups that the Fathers of the Church called the “pseudognostics”. This fragment, if it is authentic, therefore certainly belongs to one of those pseudognostic false gospels.

In conclusion, even if what is written in this article turns out to be true, it would not have the meaning that many have given it. A quick reading could indeed make believe that these scientific studies proved that Jesus would have had a wife, when in reality, it is not. Scientists have, at most, proved that this Coptic fragment which mentioned the fact that Jesus had a wife dated well from the 7th or 8th century. But this text obviously has no historical value compared to the four Gospels we have, which date from the 1st century.

To finish, I allow myself to hypothesize that the editor of the article which announced this discovery deliberately chose an ambiguous title to create “buzz”.

David Vincent

The opinions and positions of contributorsInfo Chrétienne do not commit or represent the writing or editorial line ofInfo Chrétienne. Info Chrétienne supports freedom of expression, conscience and opinion.

© Info Chrétienne - Short partial reproduction authorized followed by a link "Read more" to this page.


Info Chrétienne being an online press service recognized by the Ministry of Culture, your donation is tax deductible up to 66%.