No one really knows where it came from. The fragment of papyrus is no bigger than a business card. First surfacing in 1997, the wispy section of fiber contains portions of sentences scrawled in Coptic professing, quite clearly, that Jesus had a wife and that it is OK for her to be one of his disciples.
Papyrologists struggle with empirical evidence of those who state the document is authentic. The type of material, the ink used, the language, the wording, the style of lettering, the apparent emboldening of the word TA for “my” preceding wife, and much more. Is it a forgery just to throw folks who say his singleness and celibacy are relevant to his divinity, message, and lifestyle?
It is certainly possible for this to be authentic in date. However, the question arises as to the author and the purpose of the writing. Gnostic gospels and writings have for millennium been known for their errant descriptions and fictitious nature, almost revisionist in pursuit of something completely different than the historic Jesus.
Would it matter to any of us? Does it change how we perceive and/or Jesus?Does it change his message? What if it were true that Jesus were married? What if the gospel writers, Paul, Peter, and even James and Jude, both half-brothers of Jesus kept that information from us in their letters? Much less that it potentially was Mary Magdalene, a woman of questionable career choice early in life?
Or is this just a red-herring to whip folks into a frenzy? A ruse to mess with the Catholic Church tradition of single clerics?
Here are some links detailed articles on the matter:
Our own very own, Denver Post
NT Blog - “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” blog post
Concordia Theology Blog – “An Ancient Manuscript and Jesus’ Wife?“
From the Boston Globe “Harvard professor identifies scrap of papyrus suggesting some early Christians believed Jesus was married”
Francis Watson, Durham University, U.K. - “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a fake Gospel-Fragment was composed.”
Thank you Denver Seminary for your ongoing scholarly work on matters like this. You force me and others to think theologically, spiritually, and worshipfully.