NEW YORK — Newspapers across the country are reporting today that experts have confirmed the fragment of papyrus mentioning Jesus’ wife is more than likely an authentic ancient document and not a modern forgery.

Union Theological Seminary New Testament professor Hal Taussig has worked closely with Harvard’s Karen King for the last 18 months on this fragment, known as “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Taussig is an expert on non-canonical ancient Christian documents and author of the recent A New New Testament, which contains ten ancient “lost scriptures” that helped shape early Christian communities.

“The authentication of this fragment should help us get to the important questions of what it meant for the ancient world and what it means now,” said Taussig. “It is clear that Mary Magdalene was very important to early Christians, but Da Vinci Code fantasies of her being Jesus’ wife tend to underplay her significance as a real leader in one of the earliest Jesus movements. The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife helps reclaim the historical probability that Mary Magdalene was a disciple. It helps less in knowing who Jesus’ wife may have been.”

Cautioning against using the fragment as evidence, Taussig emphasized, “This is not simply some sort of historical proof, but rather allows people the opportunity to use this text spiritually and imaginatively to make meanings for their own lives.”

Union’s president, Serene Jones, is also available to speak about the possible impact the authenticity of this fragment could have on our modern understanding of the role of women in the Christian church.

“This fragment of papyrus opens up our imaginations and intriguing historical possibilities,” said Jones. “But we need to ask ourselves, why does it matter so much whether Jesus was married? Jesus’ race doesn’t determine how we think about civil rights, and whether he was gay doesn’t determine how we think about marriage equality. As a contemporary Christian thinking about the relationship of this fragment to our world, we need to look at the role of women in the church regardless.”

To set up an interview with Taussig or Jones, please contact Jeff Bridges on his cell phone at 303-358-5551, or via email at jbridges@uts.columbia.edu.