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Carbon 14 dating papyrus fragments

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The studies, published Thursday in the Harvard Theological Review, represent the latest chapter in the years-long saga surrounding what Harvard theologian Karen King has dubbed the Gospel of Jesus' Wife.King brought the text into the global spotlight in September 2012, at a symposium in Rome, but the publication of her analysis was held up for more than a year when questions were raised about the text's authenticity.

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In the sixteenth century the Greek New Testament was published for the first time in printed form.Just when the debate regarding the authenticity of the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” reached a fevered pitch, it was silenced.The announced that the fragment would undergo testing, though the lack of specific information frustrated interested scholars and journalists.Most of them were discovered by local Bedouin people who know these caves better than anyone else and are fully aware of the value of these old fragments on the antiquities market.But this time, Israeli authorities heard that a new papyrus was for sale and launched an operation that led the confiscation of this precious item.This is not a first for the IAA: they have been fiercely fighting against the trade in antiquities, sometimes to the point of wrongly accusing scientists of collaborating with counterfeiters in what has looked like a witch-hunt.

Only three lines of Hebrew script have been preserved on the papyrus strip, which measures 10.9cm × 3.2cm.

As soon as the papyrus was announced, the story spread like wildfire in the popular media, and myriad scholarly responses swiftly followed soon after.

While King had consulted a small cohort of eminent scholars who defended the fragment’s authenticity, others were quick to declare it a forgery.

"I do hope that the very good work that scientists have done on this will help turn the conversation away from the issue of forgery, and toward the papyrus itself," King told NBC News.

The fragmentary text, written in an Egyptian Coptic language, is controversial not only because Jesus appears to refer to his wife, but also because it discusses the worthiness of a woman named Mary for what might have been a leadership role.

The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is back in the April 2014 issue of gives the papyrus fragment considerable treatment beyond Karen L. Toth Associates, and processed by William Christens-Barry, Imaging Scientist, Equipoise Imaging, LLC, supported by Ken Boydston, via the Harvard Divinity School.