When Karen L. King presented the small fragment of a nearly 2000 year old text on a yellowed papyrus to the public in Rome in 2012, it caused an outcry all over the world. It was part of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene which she had already published in 2003. This special piece of papyrus contained a text passage in which Mary Magdalene is called ‘the wife of Jesus’. Quickly, critical voices called this discovery a forgery.
In her book ‘The Gospel of Mary of Magdala’ the theologist had summed up all her years of research and translation of a Coptic writing which was developed in early Christian times. The texts point out that Mary Magdalene was active as a female apostle at Jesus’ side. She might have even been his favourite disciple. (I will publish extracts in this blog series).
Coming back to the papyrus discovery which should allegedly prove that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a close relationship, or might even have been husband and wife. As one might expect, the authenticity of the finding was severely questioned by the church.
Karen L. King was able to contradict the supporters of the forgery theory with good arguments, as radio carbon tests proved that the papyrus was really a historical document. But the scientist probably could not withstand the pressure of powerful religious leaders. In 2016 she gave in, and, all of a sudden did not want to confirm the authenticity of the fragments any longer.
This begs the question, what did she know, and what should have been left unsaid for the sake of her safety. For the truth of new knowledge is not always pleasant for the discoverer, especially if this involves questioning 2000 year old theses and religious doctrines.