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Harvard Divinity Professor Karen King – who caused a worldwide controversy in 2012 when she unveiled a 4th Century papyrus fragment that implies Jesus was married – has now come out saying the parchment is legit, that it has stood up to tests to ensure it’s not a forgery.

Newser reports:

” … extensive testing by professors from Columbia, Harvard, and MIT in the fields of electrical engineering, chemistry, and biology has found no indications that it is a modern forgery, per an article by King published today in the Harvard Theological Review. The Boston Globe says it most likely dates to eighth-century Egypt, and the chemical composition of its ink is in line with the carbon-based inks the people of that country used at the time. But the Globe cautions that a master forger could have accessed the proper materials.”

King, in previous statements on the fragment as well as in the Harvard Theological Review, is careful to hedge her comments by saying no one knows for sure whether Jesus was really married. Although she has argued that her controversial evidence, in which Jesus supposedly refers to his “wife,” proves that the debate is far from over – despite the Vatican and other scholarly experts’ rejection of the papyrus scroll and its text as a fake and forgery.

The 1.5-by-3 inch, honey-colored scrap of papyrus paper hails from Egypt. It states in Coptic: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . . I dwell with her…’ ”

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A young boy brought a batch of candy canes to school, hoping to pass them out as gifts to his classmates, each bearing  a short religious message. That is, until his teacher stepped in, snatched them, ripped the messages off, and threw them in the trash.

Eric Owens reports for The Daily Caller:

A first-grade teacher at a public elementary school in Southern California allegedly snatched a bunch of candy canes bearing a brief religious message from a first-grade boy. She told the poor kid “Jesus is not allowed in school” and then — right in front of his little six-year-old eyes — ripped the religious messages from each candy cane and dumped them in a trashcan.

The boy’s name is Isaiah Martinez. He attends Merced Elementary School in the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina.

The first-grade teacher accused of religious bullying is Valerie Lu. One of the candy canes was for her. The rest were for Martinez’s classmates…

Attorney Robert H. Tyler, speaking on young Isaiah’s behalf, said “The pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that public schools are becoming a place of hostility toward Christian and other religiously-based worldviews.”

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The university that made national headlines in the spring after one of its lecturers asked students to write the name JESUS on paper and step on it has told a local news station that professors are allowed to assign the exercise in class.

Citing academic freedom, WPTV News Channel 5 in Florida interviewed campus officials and learned that educators at Florida Atlantic University can ask students to take part in the notorious exercise that deeply offended at least one student’s religious convictions.

Technically the ‘Jesus Stomp’ exercise is allowed back in the classroom, but that doesn’t mean faculty will use it.

“People will think twice about using that particular exercise in that setting, although there have been faculty who say they want to use it just to make a point,” said professor Tim Lenz.

In a letter to the State University System, FAU’s provost outlined extensive training for faculty come fall. It will focus on how to deal with controversy while respecting academic freedom.

The news report contradicts a statement the university put out shortly after word of the incident broke that stated: “This exercise will not be used again. The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

So much for respecting all religions. A professor would never ask students to step on Mohammad, but it’s OK to step on Jesus. He’s used to it, after all.

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Harvard Divinity Professor Karen King – who caused a worldwide controversy last fall when she unveiled a 4th Century papyrus fragment that implies Jesus was married – told a roomful of Michigan students Wednesday night that Christ could very well have been someone’s husband.

While King was careful to hedge her comments by saying no one knows for sure, she argued that her controversial evidence, in which Jesus supposedly refers to his “wife,” proves that the debate is far from over – despite the Vatican and other scholarly experts’ rejection of the papyrus scroll and its text as a fake and forgery.

“My first reaction was modern forgery; it would be two years when I finally began to change my opinion,” King said during her speech at Kalamazoo College, a private liberal arts institution in southern Michigan.

“We are still not quite sure what it is … (and) we have come no closer to answering the question of if Jesus was married or not,” she said, insinuating there indeed is a possibility that Jesus was, in fact, married.

King commented that, as a scholar, there is more at issue for her than Christ’s possible marriage. She questioned how Jesus’ celibate status came to be accepted, astonished few have previously challenged this issue.

“We should be asking how we have largely come to believe that Jesus was not married,” she said.  “It is worth questioning something that has come to shape gendered law and normative institutions.  Much is at stake in constructing this history of a usable past.”

King prompted international headlines in September when she unveiled the 1.5-by-3 inch, honey-colored scrap of papyrus paper that hails from Egypt and that she dubbed “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

It states in Coptic: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . . I dwell with her…’ ”

It has since been roundly criticized by scholars across the globe, and the fragment is now undergoing more scientific testing.

King said in her speech that she still awaits the results of the carbon “C-14” testing.  In the meantime, she said she grapples with questions.

“We are still waiting for the results of the C-14 testing, but surely it’s later than the fourth century, but even if it’s translated from a second century text, it is still not evidence of the marital status of Jesus,” King said.

In this context, King further explored the phrase written in Coptic saying, ‘I dwell with her,’ stating: “This can have a sexual meaning, but it is not the normal Coptic meaning.”

An alternative explanation King offered is that this fragment speaks of placing discipleship to Jesus before family members.

Even if this text does not prove to King that Jesus was married, she cites other information that perhaps he was.

King relies upon the Gospel of Philip, one of the non-canonical gospels written well into the third-century, containing theological observations written from a Gnostic perspective.

She quotes the Gospel of Philip 59:6-11, which reads, “There are three who always walk with the Lord: Mary and his mother and her sister and Magdalene, who is called his koinônos.  For Mary is his sister and his mother and the one he is joined with,” koinônos meaning “to be joined with.”

King affirmed: “At least for me, this pushes the question of marriage” – indicating that she does not accept the canonical teaching that Jesus never married.

Near the end of her speech, she admits, “Much remains tantalizingly open.”

King has yet to truly deny Christ was married.

Fix contributor Jenna Neumann is a student at Kalamazoo College.

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IMAGE: Harvard University website

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Via WORLD on Campus:

Three days after Easter, a faculty advisor and two students took down a portrait of Jesus that has been hanging in a southern Ohio school since 1947.

Superintendent Phil Howard said he requested the portrait’s removal in order to avoid an expensive and unaffordable lawsuit. “At the end of the day, we just couldn’t roll the dice with taxpayer money,” he said.

Last January, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Jackson City Schools complaining about the portrait. Shortly after, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio sued the district on behalf of a student and two parents, calling the portrait an unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school.

At first, the school refused to remove the portrait, pledging to protect students’ right to free speech. Administrators said the portrait technically belonged to the Hi-Y Christian student club and that it was part of a public forum for student organizations.

But their resolve crumbled when the district’s insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses.

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Inside Higher Ed on Monday published an interview with Deandre Poole, the Florida Atlantic University professor at the heart of a nationwide controversy prompted after the educator asked students to write the word “JESUS” on paper then step on it.

Poole has since been placed on paid administrative leave because of death threats, according to news reports. As for his side of the story, Inside Higher Ed notes:

First off, Poole wants people to know that he never told anyone to “stomp on Jesus,” to quote the headline widely used in articles criticizing him. He said he asked people to step on the piece of paper.

… Much of the critical commentary about Poole has suggested that he is anti-Christian. In fact, he said, he has been connected to churches all of his life, has served as a Sunday school teacher, and understands the power of the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper because he cares deeply about Jesus.

“I am very religious,” he said. “I see how the name Jesus is symbolic. For people like myself, Jesus is my lord and savior. It’s how I identify myself as a Christian.”

He noted that the idea behind the exercise isn’t that students will actually step on Jesus, but that most will pause and that their discomfort sets off the discussion. He said he saw at least one student who did step on the paper, and talked about not feeling much of a connection to Jesus. But he said most didn’t, and that was fine with him. No students, he said, were forced to do anything.

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