An ancient papyrus fragment which a Harvard scholar says contains the first recorded mention that Jesus may have had a wife is a fake, the Vatican said on Friday.
"Substantial reasons would lead one to conclude that the papyrus is indeed a clumsy forgery," the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial by its editor, Gian Maria Vian. "In any case, it's a fake."
Joining a highly charged academic debate over the authenticity of the text, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, the newspaper published a lengthy analysis by expert Alberto Camplani of Rome's La Sapienza university, outlining doubts about the manuscript and urging extreme caution.
The fragment, which reads "Jesus said to them, my wife" was unveiled by Harvard Professor Karen King as a text from the 4th century at a congress of Coptic Studies in Rome last week.
Her study divided the academic community, with some hailing it as a landmark discovery while others rapidly expressed their doubts .
"It's really pretty unlikely that it's authentic," University of Durham Professor Francis Watson told Reuters after he published a paper arguing the words on the fragment were a rearrangement of phrases from a well known Coptic text.
I would have to say that absolutely the Vatican has extensive scholarship in artifacts from the time period. They also have an absolute confirmation bias here to find this fragment to be a forgery under any circumstances, so frankly I'd like to see a bit more study of the fragment. Since the very existence of the piece immediately threatens the established dogma of the Catholic Church, what did you expect them to say?
Not exactly an objective observer here.