An ancient text in which Jesus referred to "my wife" has been accused of being forged, but a recent analysis suggests it's most likely authentic.
Researchers analyzed the paper the message was written on as well as the ink it was written with, and determined the text was consistent with its ancient origin, Harvard Magazine reported. The text also suggested that wives and mothers could have been disciples of Jesus, as opposed to only virgins.
The text was dubbed the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" (GJW).
Since the fragment of paper is so small carbon dating was difficult. Researchers from the University of Arizona determined that the paper originated several hundred years before the birth of Christ; the team was suspicious of their own results because they were not able to complete the required cleaning process.
Professor of Egyptology and ancient Western Asian studies Leo Depuydt and others hold the view that the text was forged in modern times, and the person responsible could have used lampblack (the ancient ink) even in modern times. Researchers have found no evidence of forgery when looking at the ink with infrared microspectroscopic analysis.
A second round of carbon dating by Clay professor of scientific archaeology Noreen Turossat Harvard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute dated the text to the time of between 700 and 800 A.D.
The text is written with ancient Egyptian ink and is in the Sahidic language, which is also consistent with the region and time period. The researchers suggest the writing could be a transcript of "an earlier Coptic text that was based on a Greek copy" as is much of scripture, Harvard Magazine reported.
The writing is similar in style as the "Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip," suggesting it originated during the "second half of the second century," Harvard Magazine reported.
"The most historically reliable early Christian literature is silent about Jesus's marital status, and the GJW fragment does not change that situation. It is not evidence that Jesus was married, but it does appear to support the favorable position on marriage and reproduction taken by the canonical 1 Timothy, and it stands on the side of Jesus as he refutes the statement of Peter in Gos. Thom. 114 that 'women are not worthy of life,'" Hollis professor of divinity Karen L. King, who originally revealed the ancient text, wrote, Harvard Magazine reported.