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In 2012, the discovery of a tattered papyrus fragment rocked the biblical studies community after some alleged its text proved that Jesus was married.
Now tests show the fragment is not only likely legit — it’s also superold.
The controversial fragment known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” dates to between the sixth and ninth centuries, and could possibly date back as early as the second to fourth centuries, according to a newly published study in the Harvard Theological Review.
The fragment, which contains the words, “Jesus said to them, my wife,” first came to light several years ago. Harvard University Divinity Professor Karen L. King, who announced the fragment’s existence at a conference in 2012, was quick to point out that the fragment does not prove that Jesus had a wife.
“The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus — a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued,” King said in a statement.
The document first came to King’s attention in 2011. She had it examined by Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. Bagnall’s initial findings were that the fragment was ancient, which lead to more testing.
From Harvard University:
Over the past two years, extensive testing of the papyrus and the carbon ink, as well as analysis of the handwriting and grammar, all indicate that the existing material fragment dates to between the sixth and ninth centuries CE. None of the testing has produced any evidence that the fragment is a modern fabrication or forgery.
Not everyone agrees that the document is legitimate. Brown University professor Leo Depuydt wrote a rebuttal to the findings in which he calls out “gross grammatical errors.” He said the fragment is so clearly a phony that it “seems ripe for a Monty Python sketch.”
In an interview with the Boston Globe, King said, “I’m basically hoping that we can move past the issue of forgery to questions about the significance of this fragment for the history of Christianity, for thinking about questions like, ‘Why does Jesus being married, or not, even matter? Why is it that people had such an incredible reaction to this?’ ”
The fragment measures 1.5 by 3 inches. Its author is unknown.
One of the world’s biggest social good foundations is contributing to one of society’s biggest ills — the private prison industry. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust has invested more than $2 million in GEO Group, one of the largest and most abusive private prison corporations in the United States.
GEO makes a business of jailing those with the fewest resources, profiting from their labor, stripping them of their dignity, and leaching precious human capital from already-distressed communities.
GEO Group and other private prison companies have a perverse profit motive to drive criminal justice and immigration policy towards more incarceration of citizens and immigrants in prisons, jails, and immigrant detention centers. They spend millions of dollars — dollars provided in part by investors like the Gates Foundation Trust — lobbying local, state, and federal governments to institute longer sentences, to incarcerate more people for mi nor crimes, and to terrorize immigrant communities.
If that weren’t bad enough, GEO’s prisons are notorious for their awful treatment of prisoners. Accounts of sexual assault, physical abuse, medical neglect, rotten and inadequate food, forced signing of immigration papers, and death have been well-documented at GEO facilities. A federal judge called the inhumane conditions at GEO’s now-closed Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, “a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.”
In light of this evidence, it is shocking that the Gates Foundation Trust would maintain its investment in the GEO group. The Gates Foundation prides itself on the good it does in the world. But this investment fundamentally contradicts the Foundation’s stated mission: to “ensure that all people — especially those with the fewest resources — have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”
If enough of us speak out now, we’ll be able to create a powerful media narrative that exposes this contradiction and shames the Gates Foundation Trust to withdraw its investment.
Join Presente, Enlace, and 25 other organizations in calling on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust to immediately withdraw its investment in the GEO Group.