Harvard Professor Duped by “Jesus' Wife" Manuscript Fraud
'Jesus said to them, My wife ... she is able to be my disciple.' At a splashy roll-out a stone's throw from the Vatican in 2012, King presented a paper to more than 300 scholars from 27 countries, where she announced the discovery of an ancient scrap of papyrus in which Jesus refers to his 'wife,' whom King said is probably Mary Magdalene. ... The Harvard Theological Review published an entire journal edition on the 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife,' and the Smithsonian Channel produced a major documentary on the topic. National Geographic confidently announced, 'No Forgery Evidence Seen in Gospel of Jesus's Wife Papyrus' in its issue from April 11, 2014. The problem was, the document is a fake. Dr. King had actually received the papyrus from a pornographer named Walter Fritz, who invented a story of how he had come into possession of the fragment. ... King was so excited with the possibilities of the find, however, that she never bothered to check up on Fritz's credentials or the numerous inconsistencies in his story. ... The journalist who uncovered the 'whopping fraud' was Ariel Sabar, who pursued the origins of the fragment, leading him to the home of Walter Fritz on Florida's southern Gulf Coast. Despite Dr. King's unwillingness to reveal the name of the person who had furnished her with the papyrus, after painstaking sleuthing, Sabar found him anyway. ... In his later piece, Sabar noted that King was particularly interested in Gnostic texts that assign Mary Magdalene a prominent role as Jesus's confidante and disciple, since proof that some early Christians also saw Mary Magdalene as Jesus's wife 'would be a rebuke to Church patriarchs.' Her ideological agenda, in other words, disposed her to believe Fritz's account of the papyrus."
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