20 Sep 2012

Ancient fragment referring to 'Jesus's wife' discovered

10:35 pm on 20 September 2012

A Harvard scholar has unveiled a fragment of a 1700-year-old papyrus she says quotes Jesus referring to "my wife".

Karen King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, says it is the first clear recorded statement of a claim that Jesus was married.

However, she says it still provides no definitive answer to the question of whether he had a spouse.

The fragment was loaned to Professor King by a private owner for study, and is believed to have been written in the 4th century in a dialect of the Coptic language used in northern Egypt, Reuters reports.

In the papyrus, a scribe writes: "Jesus said to them, my wife ...".

Another section contains the phrase "she will be able to be my disciple".

Christian tradition holds that Jesus was not married and the Catholic Church says women cannot become priests because Christ chose only men as disciples.