A fragment of papyrus that refers to Jesus's wife—that was immediately shot down as a fake by the Vatican in 2012—has been tested by scientists at Columbia University, Harvard University and MIT, who all conclude that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient and not a modern a forgery.
Named the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" by Dr. Karen L. King, a historian at Harvard Divinity School, the piece of papyrus has caused a lot of controversy because it contains the phrases:
Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'
[S]he will be able to be my disciple.
That second clause brings into question the age-old dictate in the Catholic church that women are not allowed to be priests, which is perhaps why the Vatican denounced the papyrus as a forgery right out of the gate.
However, while it has not been proven that Jesus actually had a wife or female disciples, scientific tests prove that the papyrus and the ink are authentically ancient.
The "Jesus's Wife" papyrus was analyzed at Columbia University using micro-Raman spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of the ink. James T. Yardley, a professor of electrical engineering, said in an interview that the carbon black ink on this fragment was "perfectly consistent with another 35 or 40 manuscripts that we've looked at," that date from 400 B.C. to A.D. 700 or 800.
At M.I.T.'s Center for Materials Science and Engineering, Timothy M. Swager, a chemistry professor, and two students used infrared spectroscopy to determine whether the ink showed any variations or inconsistencies.
They concluded that it "would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible" for someone to have doctored it up.
Despite the scientific evidence supporting its authenticity, there are still naysayers, like Dr. Leo Depuydt, a professor of Egyptology at Brown University, who insists the fragment is so fake it "seems ripe for a Monty Python sketch."
For her part, Dr. King says it's "a big disappointment" that people are so focused on forgery and not on history.