'Gospel of Jesus' Wife' Controversy: Ken Ham Insists Jesus' Bride Is the Church, Not Earthly Woman

This image shows the front of the papyrus known as 'The Gospel of Jesus's Wife' and written in ancient Coptic script.
This image shows the front of the papyrus known as "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife" and written in ancient Coptic script. | (Photo: Karen L. King/Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel)

Answers in Genesis CEO and President Ken Ham has spoken out on the controversy surrounding a small piece of papyrus dubbed the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," which now appears to be a fabrication, by stating that Jesus' bride is the Church, and not a woman who lived on Earth.

"Skeptics of the Bible used this tiny fragment of text to try to prove that the Gospels contained an inaccurate or fragmentary account of Jesus' life. But of course, the Bible was right all along," Ham, a Young Earth Creationist, wrote in an AiG blog on Monday.

"Now, nowhere does Scripture state, 'Jesus was not married.' But none of the Gospel writers — among whom were eyewitnesses and a historian who interviewed eyewitnesses — mention a wife and neither do any of the other New Testament writers. And besides, Jesus' bride is the Church (Ephesians 5:23–32), not a woman here on Earth," he added.

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Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King said last month that the materials given to her by the owner of the papyrus fragment "were all fabrications."

King's statements follow an investigative report by The Atlantic which presented documents showing a fake Greek manuscript used by Ernest Fritz, the owner of the fragment, showing a a blog in which his wife "talks of restoring a second century Christian gospel, a project that apparently left part of the manuscript in fragments."

The papyrus in question presents lines of words written in the Coptic language that make reference to Jesus having a wife, possibly Mary Magdalene, who is said to be "worthy" of discipleship. Scholars have made note of grammatical errors in the text, however, and said that the lines appear to be from the Gospel of Thomas, a book that is not in the canon of Scripture.

The Harvard Theological Review, which posted King's article announcing the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" back in 2014, has refused to retract the original essay, however, arguing that just because it passed its review process at the time does not mean it agrees with the claims of the paper.

Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament studies professor Darrell Bock told The Christian Post in an interview in June that the Atlantic article "gives more reason why so many were so skeptical about the claims for this text from the beginning. It points to the fact that when a largely unvetted sensational discovery is announced, time should be given for the dust to settle around those claims."

Bock added, "in this case, it looks like this 'ancient' papyrus is worth little more than that settled dust."

AiG, which had criticized King's findings on a number of occasions, says that the latest evidence shows the papyrus isn't authentic at all, but a "modern forgery."

"Whenever a new find emerges that skeptics claim contradicts the Bible or disproves something in it, we need to trust God's Word. Eventually time will show that God's Word was right all along. As Romans 3:4 says, 'Let God be true but every man a liar.' We can always trust God's Word, from the very beginning," Ham added.

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