Annually around Easter, something surfaces (or resurfaces) in popular culture that claims to undermine the historicity of the Gospel. This year, a document suggesting that Jesus had a wife has made the rounds (which you can learn about here). Should we panic, especially since a few scholars are claiming that this is no forgery?
While we can respond to this in many ways, one immediately obvious factor that should be key in our evaluation is the date. In the Huffington Post article, it is acknowledged that this “fragment dates back to at least the sixth to ninth centuries.” While this dating estimate is written as though it helps the case, the date actually undermines the weight of the document. When we have strong evidence that the Bible was composed in the first century, and many of our New Testament manuscript fragments date back to the second century (and possibly even the late first), this new document is no threat whatsoever.
**Update (as of May 5, 2014): This is now generally considered to be a forgery. Another attack bites the dust. http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/gospel-jesuss-wife-looks-more-more-fake-n97281