(Photo: Smithsonian Channel)
A Vatican City newspaper has claimed that a controversial ancient document that alludes to Jesus possibly being married is a fabrication.
L'Osservatore Romano ran an article by Alberto Camplani, a leading scholar on Coptic documents, who said that the Coptic papyrus recently unveiled as saying Jesus was married is a fake.
"In spite of the drift in the media marked by tones which are quick to shock, unlike so many other items presented at the conference, the papyrus was not discovered in the process of excavation but came from an antiquarian market," wrote Camplani.
"Such an object demands that numerous precautions be taken to establish its reliability and exclude the possibility of forgery."
Camplani and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor at L'Osservatore who wrote an accompanying editorial column, both cited scholars who doubted the authenticity of the papyrus document.
"At any rate, a fake," wrote Vian, who in addition to being editor also has expertise in early Christian history.
Last week, Karen King, a professor of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, presented a fourth century Coptic papyrus document before an international body that focuses on Coptic studies.
King stated that the document, likely a Coptic translation of an earlier 2nd century document, had Jesus refer to a woman named Mary as "my wife."
As the document is being analyzed for authenticity, King herself admitted that the document would not prove that Jesus was married, but at most would only show that some early Christians assumed him to be.
In his article, Camplani argued that even if the document were true, the statement of Jesus referring to "my wife" could also mean his bride the Church, a common symbolic parallel, rather than a literal spouse.
Other Christian scholars and leaders have also expressed skepticism about the Coptic papyrus document in regards to the claim of Jesus being married as well as its authenticity.
"One British newspaper notes that the claims about a married Jesus seem more worthy of fans of Dan Brown's fictional work, The Da Vinci Code, than 'real-life Harvard professors,'" said R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a commentary.
"If the fragment is authenticated, the existence of this little document will be of interest to historians of the era, but it is insanity to make the claims now running through the media."
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Sean McDonough, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, described it as "simply the latest in a seemingly endless parade of sensationalist headlines obscuring sober historical thinking about the Bible."