September 18th, 2012
03:28 PM ET
Newly revealed Coptic fragment has Jesus making reference to 'my wife'
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - A newly revealed, centuries-old papyrus fragment suggests that some early Christians might have believed Jesus was married. The fragment, written in Coptic, a language used by Egyptian Christians, says in part, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ..."
Harvard Divinity School Professor Karen King announced the findings of the 1 1/2- by 3-inch honey-colored fragment on Tuesday in Rome at the International Association for Coptic Studies.
King has been quick to add this discovered text "does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married," she wrote in a draft of her analysis of the fragment set to appear in the January edition of Harvard Theological Review. The divinity school has posted a draft of King's article to which AnneMarie Luijendijk, an associate professor of religion at Princeton University, contributed.
"This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that (Jesus) was married, nor does it prove that he was not married. The earliest reliable historical tradition is completely silent on that. So we're in the same position we were before it was found. We don't know if he was married or not," King said in a conference call with reporters.
"What I'm really quick to say is to cut off people who would say this is proof that Jesus was married because historically speaking, it's much too late to constitute historical evidence," she continued. "I'm not saying he was, I'm not saying he wasn't. I'm saying this doesn't help us with that question," she continued.
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In the accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible, there is no mention of his marital status, while the accounts do mention Jesus' mother, father and siblings. The four Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - tell the story of Jesus' birth and early childhood then skip to his short, three-year ministry before detailing his death and resurrection.
The idea that Jesus was married is not a new one.
In other writings about the life of Jesus from antiquity suggest Jesus may have been married to Mary Magdalene, a disciple who was close to Jesus. Author Dan Brown also used the idea of Jesus being married as a jumping off point for the fictional novel "The Da Vinci Code." King dismissed that notion in her call with reporters.
“There’s no indication we have that Jesus was married,” said Darrell Bock, a senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. “One could say the text is silent on Jesus’ marital status is because there was nothing to say.”
Initial dating for the honey-colored fragment by the team of scholars puts the papyrus piece coming out of the middle of the second century.
King is referring to the fragment as the "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" or "GosJesWife" as a short hand for reference, and noting that the abbreviation does not mean this scrap has the same historical weight as the canonical Gospels.
Biblical scholars often use the term gospel to refer to a genre of ancient writings featuring dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, King notes in her paper. The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Judas are just a few of the ancient accounts about the life of Jesus that Christians do not consider canonical.
At the conference, King said another professor suggested the fragment could have come from the text of a homily, or sermon, where the writer was using this phrase as a literary device. She told reporters that while she will consider that as a possibility, the fragment is “probably a gospel. Probably from the second century and most close to the Gospels of Mary, Thomas and Philip.”
Bock agreed with the notion that the text fragment shared similarities with those gospels, called the Gnostic Gospels, which were the writings of an early outlier sect of Christians. He said the text could be referring to a "gnostic rite of marriage that is a picture of the church and Jesus, not a real wife."
But he added, "it’s a small text with very little context. We don’t know what’s wrapped around it to know what it’s saying.”
Bock said it’s likely to be a gnostic text if it proves to be authentic. “The whole text needs vetting. She’s doing the right thing to release it and let scholars take a look at,” he said, adding “it’s a little bit like trying to analyze the game in the first quarter.”
“It’s a historical curiosity but doesn’t really tell us who Jesus was,” Bock said. “It’s one small speck of a text in a mountain of texts of about Jesus.”
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The owner of the fragment has been identified by King as a private collector who has asked to stay anonymous. The owner brought the fragment to Harvard have King examine it in December 2011.
King then brought it to the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. Roger Bagnall, the institute's director and an expert on papyrus, examined it and determined it to be authentic, Bangall confirmed to CNN.
Ariel Shisha-Halevy, professor of linguistics at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, who was asked to examine the authenticity, according to the draft of the article, told King via e-mail, “I believe - on the basis of language and grammar - the text is authentic. That is to say, all its grammatical ‘noteworthy’ features, separately or conjointly, do not warrant condemning it as forgery.”
Little is known about the origin of the text. Because both sides of the fragment have writing on them, King said it could have come out of a book rather than a scroll.
"Just like most of the earliest papyri of the New Testament and other literary and documentary papyri, a fragment this damaged could have come from an ancient garbage heap," the King says building on prior research by Luijendijk.
King writes "the importance of the 'Gospel of Jesus’ Wife' lies in supplying a new voice within the diverse chorus of early Christian traditions about Jesus that documents that some Christians depicted Jesus as married."
The Smithsonian Channel also announced Monday that it will air a special on King's findings on September 30.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
Jesus constantly referred to the church as his wife. This is not groundbreaking stuff people, whether you believe in the bible or not, there is nothing here that contradicts a careful and thorough reading of the bible. By the way, I am an atheist who was raised as a christian and I graduated from bible school. Any christian is going to complete the fragmented sentence this way, "My wife is the church." None of it matters anyway, because even if it said, "Take my wife, please!", christians would say it was apocriphal and go about their lives.
BIBLE CLEARLY SAYS THE WIFE OF JESUS IS HIS OWN BLOOD WASHED, BORN AGAIN 'CHURCH'..... AND STUPID FELLOWS ARE BRINGING SOME PIECE OF PAPER AND SAYS JESUS MARRIED.... !!!!!! THERE ARE THE LAST DAYS..... BE PREPARE FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS... WHEN HE COMES BACK AND SEES YOU AS NAKED (WITHOUT GOD) YOUR PORTION WILL BE IN HELL........... SO BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU TALK... AND WHAT YOU HOLD ON....
Typing in all capital letters is considered SHOUTING on the internet. It is rude to shout at people. Have a nice day.
beeb: your god is a vindictive petty pr1ck. have a great day
See? You roused the rabble!
Joyce and southernbelle: seek help. Delusion is a mental disorder.
christians believe a lot of ridiculous things.
He was never married.
His wife was the first wife to ever say "Jesus Christ pick up your dirty socks."
Ok, so Jesus had a wife, if the story is true. And if it is true, who cares?
What if –
For some reason it is not allowing me to post things...So, before I give a response – are you wanting a response or are you simply saying things for people to read?
Jesus has already come back, as he promised,
in the beginning of this most critical Third and Last Day (=Millennium; 6/40) now!
with UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES!
All these things are trying to bring division in the world. But happy is the man that believe in the son jesus christ.
Delusion is often accompanied by a feeling of euphoria.
I thought the guy had 12 wives.
Well, This whole discussion about the Son of God having a wife is blasphemous and offensive. Whose embassy can I trash?
Hey Newfiejoe, I just want you to tell me, if some people chose to believe that Jesus was married, how would that be blasphemy? Wasn't Jesus killed for the same thing? Didn't the Romans an the Priest condemn Jesus an have him crucified because they felt that Jesus himself was speaking BLASPHEMY??? I myself believe that Jesus was married and had a child. And there is strong evidence that supports a bond/relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and it is also written by Jesus' own disciples! Now ask yourself, if Mary was nothing more then a woman following Jesus on his crusades, then why was she at his crucifixion with his mother an brother? Where was his devoted disciples? An why did Jesus chose Mary to appear to first after his resurrection? Are you married? Because I am, an when ever I need advice or someone to talk to I always go to my husband first! Didn't God say that he made Eve for Adam so they would cleave together an make ONE FLESH? So why wouldn't Jesus do the same?
Psalm 7: 14-17 says: " The wicked concieve evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a pit to trap others and then fall into it themselves. They make trouble, but it backfires on them. They plan violence for others, but it falls on their own heads. I will thank the LORD because He is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High...
Wow.....quotes from A BOOK....nosireeee, you don't get any more convincing than that
I think the real question here is 'did Jesus wear a c0ck-ring and use an anal-plug on his wife while he made her do azz-to-mouth?
These are the important questions that DEMAND answers!
You need prayer! You just said something assaulting the SON OF GOD!
I feel sorry for you.
Lord help you when you meet HIM face to face one day. You'll see what hell is all about!
southernbelle: spend a lot of time on your knees, do you?
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This fragment is hardly newsworthy. It was written hundreds of years after the gospels, at a time when heretic gnostics were cranking out all kinds of wild "new" gospels. The gospels in the bible were written by those who lived DURING the time of Christ. It seems the movement to defame and deface Christianity never stops.
"Not one of the earliest Greek manuscripts of the Gospels contains a signature or preface indicating its author. While some contemporary scholars find eye-witness material in the Gospels, few if any believe that all four docu.ments we have in our Bible came from the pens of Jesus' original followers. This means that many of the stories and sayings in our Gospels have undergone an editing process, both oral and written, as they passed from believer to believer prior to their final composition."
Ref.: Mysteries of the Bible; Reader's Digest General Books; 1988.
Really? And what gospels are you referring too exactly? Because from my understanding Mary Magdalene was from Jesus' time, So was Andrew and Peter but their gospels about the bond/relationship between Jesus an Mary are not in the bible? Why do you think that is? Because some so called "Religious Leaders" refuse to acknowledge those gospels, and there are probably more hidden away by people who think their above GOD. So for these people I say to you, release everything you have that retains to Jesus or his life or disciples, etc... an let people decide for themselves what they want to believe is true or not true instead of other people dictating on what we should believe or not believe.
About Coptic fragment. At the time there were different ways to marry. For example, the Essenes or another branch of Jesus perhaps could remain single or marry spiritually. These Essenes practiced daily immersion in God and abstinence from worldly pleasures. In some groups, the members remained unmarried and other married with or without children, or have a spiritual descendants. That said, even if Jesus was married is not a fault in itself ... But.. Nazarite vow existed (not to be confused with Nazarene where he lived), the word nazir meaning "consecrated", see Numbers 6: 1-21. What Else, the history of the kiss on the mouth : in some groups it was the symbol of " the breath of knowledge ", and not a kiss with tongue, eh? .. Having heard "Jesus was married," some persons must be rubbing their hands. :).. apparently some people want to do away Catholicism, and also all Christian confessions in this moment... Please no fast judgment about Jesus. To meditate..
It makes little difference if any of those people existed or not, except to hero worshippers and purist historians (not demeaning historians, it's just a separate discipline). If any wisdom or concepts that are attributed to them are verified to be useful – that's all we need.
You should read what Aristotle thought about how females are conceived (and many other erroneous concepts).
Alexander the Great worshipped the Greek gods.
Isaac Newton was big into the occult and thought he could make gold with the Philosopher's Stone.
Nicola Tesla thought that a pigeon was his wife.
It's the same with any practical wisdom that is attributed to Jesus. It's the valid wisdom that matters, not the man. Again, there is not a scintilla of verified evidence for the supernatural events attributed to him (or anyone else), nor that his alleged preachings about the supernatural are true.
* sorry, I did not use the "Reply" button.
What I am asking is an attempt to see how people think and if they are wanting to engage in conversation or just say something for the sake of saying it.
I think you would agree that it mattered that Hitler existed. I think you would agree that it mattered that others who acted so reprehensibly existed – it changed actual lives – it's not simply an academic matter. As for the existence of Jesus – it does matter for a number of people. If what he said is true, it matters, if what he said is not true it matters. People are affected by it. And so this is not simply a matter of academics.
But the point is valid – does a person use the same standard for "real evidence" across the board, or do they pick and choose according to their whim? Is there a standard for "real evidence"? If there is, what is it? And can someone use an external standard one to another to determine what is right and what is wrong? What gives anyone that right? Or are all things relative?
When someone is making a statement about the veracity of something, it stands to reason to ask them if they use the same standards to determine the veracity of other things that are part of history or not. IF they are being arbitrary – then there is not much use in attempting to converse.
It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't??) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.
Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!
Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.
Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.
Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god (something you know nothing about), fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.
To state that you cannot know about God is saying at least one of two things 1) God is such that he cannot reveal himself to people or 2) That God has chosen not communicate to man. So, where do you come up with this knowledge? The agnostic approach makes a truth claim about God, while claiming that you cannot know about God. This is a self-defeating argument.
Plenty of "atheist folk" have done bad things in the name of atheism. Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stallin etc. The question is not are there skeletons in ones closet? The bad things people have done in the name of a god, or God, or atheism does not say anything about whether or not those positions are true (people act hypocritical whether religious or not).
"To state that you cannot know about God " That is not what I wrote. No one has shown to date any knowledge of a god (knowledge that is worthy of serious consideration). That is not the same as "claiming that you cannot know" – so your first paragraph shows you assumed too much in reading my post.
Your second paragraph is even more lame, because trying to describe atheism by way of rulers in the past who removed religion (and did all kinds of other things to meet their objectives) is silly. Hitler was a Christian. But I don't try to use him as an example of Christianity because these few nutballs in history do not help define anything except what a ruthless ruler can become. Very lame argument on your part. On the other hand, religions have had periods throughout history where they committed murder and putting people down in all kinds of ways – and it was in the name of the religion. The various inquisitions are a good example of that. That is a much more direct attribute that one can ascribe to religions as a whole that does, in part, define who they have been.
I like your thoughts, Mama Kindless!
You said in your first post – "And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about." And, "If you find it helpful to pray to a god (something you know nothing about), fine."
And in the second, "’To state that you cannot know about God’ " That is not what I wrote. No one has shown to date any knowledge of a god (knowledge that is worthy of serious consideration). That is not the same as "claiming that you cannot know" – so your first paragraph shows you assumed too much in reading my post.”
I believe it is clear you are making a truth claim about God, and in the same breath saying you cannot know anything about God. Is this a contradiction (meaning: A is A, and not A, at the same time and in the same relationship)?
Again, simply because people do things in the name of God, does not in any way say anything as to the truth claims they are making. Just because Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Hitler, or any other person does something for a “greater purpose” says nothing to whether or not their world view is true.
If all you can do is say, “that’s lame,” I can turn and say the same thing, but that does not demonstrate anything as to the matter at hand – the truth or falsity of a world view.
You stated as well, “…religions have had periods throughout history where they committed murder and putting people down in all kinds of ways – and it was in the name of the religion. The various inquisitions are a good example of that. That is a much more direct attribute that one can ascribe to religions as a whole that does, in part, define who they have been.” My question to you is how does their evil (if you would even define their actions in that way) negate the truth claims they made about their world view.
Can you demonstrate or articulate, how it is the case that their actions negate the truth that God exists? Especially for those who took part in the inquisitions? And by the way, what is wrong with the inquisitions? (What standard do you use to say that? - I would say that there actions, as reprehensible as they were demonstrate the truth that God exists).
Now, you can say – “that’s lame,” which it could it be – if there is a standard to judge it by. But to state that, and to demonstrate it, are two different things. It’s also a way to not answer my questions or deal with the argument. By the way, what would a “non-lame” argument be to you?
OK – I think I see the confusion on the first point. What I am saying is simply that we don't have IMHO, enough evidence today of the existence of a higher being. But that I don't deny, like a high atheist might say, that will will never know. I thought you were saying that I was saying that we will never know. In other words, in the same way that I hold out hope that nature has many things to surprise us with, that we will discover from science, I reserver the possibility (but don't really count on it as much as science) that something in the way of a higher being may make itself apparent in the future. It may even be something that had nothing to do with creation. (I think both theologians and scientists are both too limiting in their thinking sometimes and don't consider more possibilities. For instance, your #1 and #2 in your initial response I think are too limiting.) I was making a distinction between your "cannot" and my "don't as of now". Another possibility is that God is here now, and has not made itself known to anyone that you or I know or have heard about in our lifetimes. There are all kinds of possibilites that get overlooked when you you try to be too logical, but IMHO, religion holds none of the answers – and I realize it is just my opinion. So on the first point, I can see how that looked like I was contradicting myself, and I'm glad you asked about it. God might be there. God might not be here yet. I'm not saying he cannot be known. I'm saying IMHO, no one has shown they know anything about knowing him, so I think no one knows yet, and I think it is possible that there might be and I think it is possible that it might never be. I'm a show-me-the-proof person and the proof has failed thus far. So I hope that clears that point up.
IMHO no one really knows exactly what was in the minds of Hitler, Mao, etc. But I'm glad you asked this again, because I think I also misunderstood some of what you wrote. I really don't think you can learn anything from "a world view" that would validate the existence of a deity. I say this because world view has most often been wrong about most things. I'm sure many who murdered on behalf of the Catholic church during the inquisitions thought they were serving their god, but that didn't validate the existence of a god except in their minds. And the inquisitions involved murder and torture. My standards born into me by mother nature says that is wrong. I believe we are born biologically with a tendency to not harm one another. Not 100% and it may not stay that way, but basically I think people are born with natural concern for their fellow human being. This is one of the problems with theologians is that they think they have the market on morals – that morals originated with religion. I know from my heart differently. But I hope this tells you more of my point of view and where there may have been some misunderstandings.
Also I should add that true – it was not helpful for me to say anything is "lame". But also I am concerned about the last part of your last post where you say:
"And by the way, what is wrong with the inquisitions? (What standard do you use to say that? – I would say that there actions, as reprehensible as they were demonstrate the truth that God exists. ."
I mean did you really mean that? Up to that point, I felt like you were being logical, but . . Well if we say it proved that God existed in their minds, then sure, OK, I would agree. But it would be lunacy to think that their actions, however popular at the time, in some way proved that God exists. I mean, most people used to think crazy things about the sun before we discovered much more about it through science, so I'm not sure why "world view" is so important to you.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.
5 There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.
This is a test response..
Having trouble? Maybe it's the word filter.
Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
ho-oters…as in sho-oters
ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
p-orn… as in p-ornography
pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).
You most certainly can meet Jesus, however you probably wont in any church.
A gracious response by you and I am thankful!
You said - "My standards born into me by mother nature says that is wrong. I believe we are born biologically with a tendency to not harm one another. Not 100% and it may not stay that way, but basically I think people are born with natural concern for their fellow human being."
Are these standards that are born into you immaterial in nature? Or are these standards produced through physical processes? It seems, and I could be wrong, but the idea of "survival of the fittest" would go against your idea that we are born with an innate desire to not want to harm others.
I must go now, but I will get to your question about what I meant by the reprehensible acts providing evidence God exists...
What is the standard for “real evidence”? Do you accept the writings attributed to Aristotle and Plato? If so, why? Do you use the same standard of “real evidence” for their existence as you do for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth? If not, why not?
Of the writings attributed to Aristotle and Plato who lived 384-322 BC, and 427-347 BC respectively – the earliest copies of manuscripts for their writings are 1100 AD, and 900 AD. Which is some 1100-1400 years after their times (and of which there are 49 copies of Aristotle and 7 copies of Plato) – so if that is reliable – according to that same standard – then so would the reliability of the copies of manuscripts of the New Testament (of which there are 5600 copies – and of those 336 of them at latest are dated at 1500-1600 years after the time of the New Testament).
Now you may say if that then is allowed as evidence – Jesus did not write anything or at least nothing of his writings are preserved and therefore he is fictional. To which I would say, by that standard, Socrates was a fictional character because he is only mentioned in the writings that are attributed to Plato.
So again, what is the standard of “real evidence”? And do you use the same standard for all writings of antiquity?
copies don't count.. it's more about how many individual witness reports there are, even better if there are story's that match from both sites of party's, enemy and allies.