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Material Criteria and their Clues for Dating*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2015

Myriam Krutzsch
Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 6, 10117, Berlin, Germany. Email:
Ira Rabin
Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, FB 4.5, Unter den Eichen 44–46, 12203, Berlin, Germany. Email:


This article is concerned with material aspects of the ‘Jesus’ Wife' fragment. Following an analysis of the papyrus which confirms that it is indeed of ancient manufacture, the scientific tests carried out on both the papyrus and the ink are critically assessed and shown to be of little or no value in determining the date of the writing.

Assessing the “Jesus' Wife” Papyrus
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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We take this opportunity to thank Emanuel Kindzorra, who performed the measurements. Our thanks also go to Stephen Emmel for fruitful discussions and Stephen Goranson for his critical reading of the manuscript.


1 Krutzsch, M., ‘Das Papyrusmaterial im Wandel der antiken Welt’, APF 58 (2012) 101–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; ‘Einzelblatt und Rolle’, Gedenkschrift für Erika Endesfelder (ed. F. Feder, M. Fitzenreiter, G. Sperveslage; forthcoming).

2 Type ii corresponds to a three-layer sheet join. See Krutzsch, M., ‘Das Papyrusmaterial im Wandel der antiken Welt’, APF 58 (2012) 101–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Similarly, in Codex Berolinensis Gnosticus 8502 the right sheet overlays the left one in all the preserved sheet joins. See Krutzsch, M., ‘Beobachtungen zur Herstellungstechnik früher gnostischer Kodizes’, Zugänge zur Gnosis, Akten zur Tagung der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft vom 2.-5.1.2011 in Berlin-Spandau (Leuven 2013) 285–93Google Scholar.

4 See M. Krutzsch, ‘Criteria of Dating Papyrus Material’, Workshop on Dating Early Papyri and Manuscripts, Oklahoma 27 th–29 thMarch 2014 (forthcoming).

5 A comparison with the Nag Hammadi Codices and the Codex Berolinensis (Berlin P 8502) shows clear differences.

6 Azzarelli, J. M., Goods, J. B., Swager, T. M., ‘Study of Two Papyrus Fragments with Fourier Transform Infrared Microspectroscopy’, HTR 107 (2014) 165CrossRefGoogle Scholar (supplement report).

7 Yardley, J. T. and Hagadorn, A., ‘Characterization of the Chemical Nature of the Black Ink in the Manuscript of the Gospel of Jesus's Wife through Micro-Raman Spectroscopy’, HTR 107 (2014) 162–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar (supplement report).

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11 Walton, M., ‘The Pitfalls of Using Science to Authenticate Archaeological Artifacts’, SAS Bulletin 37 (2014) 14Google Scholar.

12 Tomasini, E. P., Halac, E. B., Reinoso, M., Lisciab, E. J. Di, Maiera, M. S., ‘Micro-Raman Spectroscopy of Carbon-Based Black Pigments’, Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 43 (2012) 1671–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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14 I. Rabin, ‘Analysis of the Inks from a Roman Inkwell’, Gleanings From the Caves: Dead Sea Scrolls and Artefacts of the Schoyen Collection (ed. T. Elgvin; forthcoming).

15 C. Askeland, ‘The Forgery of the Lycopolitan Gospel of John’,, 27 April 2014.

16 S. Emmel, ‘The Codicology of the New Coptic (Lycopolitan) Gospel of John Fragment (and its Relevance for Assessing the Genuineness of the Recently Published Coptic “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Fragment)',, 22 June 2014; slightly revised 2nd version: (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Institut für Ägyptologie und Koptologie), 6 August 2014.

17 G. W. Schwendner, ‘The “Gospel of Jesus[’] Wife” as a Questioned Document: What Would Simulated Ancient Writing Look Like?',, 24 April 2014.

18 Askeland, ‘The Forgery of the Lycopolitan Gospel of John’.