|NASHVILLE (BP) -- Professor Karen King has hit another snag in her efforts to publicize a papyrus fragment on which she says Jesus refers to a "wife," as the Harvard Theological Review has postponed publication of her anticipated article, awaiting the results of further testing.
The Review was to publish in January a major article aimed at answering questions raised about the authenticity of the fragment, after King announced last September its discovery at an international conference of biblical scholars in Rome.
But King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, said the article is postponed because testing on the fragment is not complete, according to news reports. The postponement is believed to further discredit the fragment's authenticity, which academics and theologians have questioned.
Harvard Divinity School spokesperson Kathryn Dodgson said the undisclosed owner of the fragment is making arrangements for further testing on its origin and authenticity, including "testing by independent laboratories with the resources and specific expertise necessary to produce and interpret reliable results," CNN reported.
The Review has posted a provisional draft of King's article on its website and plans to publish a finalized version after testing is complete, CNN reported.
"Until testing is complete, there is nothing more to say at this point," Dodgson said in the CNN story.
Last October, the Smithsonian Channel delayed release of a film about the fragment, awaiting further testing.
The fragment, as translated, only includes portions of sentences, one of which is interpreted as "...' Jesus said to them, 'My wife...,' " the Review reports.
Jesus, God incarnate, lived on earth in the first century A.D. as a single, celibate teacher for approximately 33 years before His crucifixion on the cross and His resurrection, Christianity teaches.
King, who dubbed the text of the fragment "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife," has never presented the fragment as proof of any claim that Jesus was married. On the Review's website King writes the "fragment does not provide evidence that Jesus was married."
The fragment's fourth-century dating "argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus," King writes, but also posits there is no "reliable historical evidence to support the claim that (Jesus) was not married...."
The papyrus fragment, smaller than a business card, includes eight lines of handwritten text in the Coptic language. Derived from the Greek alphabet, Coptic is essentially the Egyptian language represented with an alphabet rather than hieroglyphics. Some who have commented about the fragment note a strong resemblance to the non-canonical Gnostic manuscript known as the Gospel of Thomas. Continued...