(CNN)In 2012 Karen King, a prestigious scholar at Harvard Divinity School, announced the academic discovery of a lifetime: a scrap of papyrus, purportedly from the early days of Christianity, in which Jesus refers to a woman as "my wife."
How a mysterious man fooled a Harvard scholar into believing the 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife' was real
The text also includes the words "Mary" and "she is able to be my disciple."
It seemed, at first, like a blockbuster finding for feminist scholars and an existential threat to the Catholic Church's all-male priesthood.
King, who unveiled her find just steps from the Vatican, thought the fragment could validate her life's work: claiming a place for women in the early days of Christianity.
But instead of overturning years of religious scholarship, King's "discovery" capsized her career.
The "Gospel of Jesus' Wife," as King called it, was exposed by scholars as fake, and the prestigious professor's name has become a watchword for academics hoodwinked by con men.
In 2016, after journalist Ariel Sabar published an article in The Atlantic uncovering the ownership history of the "Jesus' Wife" fragment, King herself publicly acknowledged the papyrus is likely a forgery.
Four years later Sabar is back with the fascinating full story in his new book, "Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus' Wife."
Sabar painstakingly unspools the threads that lead to King's demise, seeking to explain why she would stake her reputation on promises from a mysterious Florida man.
You can see evidence of the fragment's fakeness on Sabar's website.
CNN recently spoke to Sabar about the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, whether anyone still believes it's real and what might have motivated the forger. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What's the thinking now on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife? Are we 95% sure it's fake? Higher than that?
It's safe to say that there is no scholar that I know of anywhere who is defending the Gospel of Jesus' Wife as authentic, not even Karen King. She was the