BBC: Ms (Karen) King said the document, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, is the first known scripture in which Jesus is reported to cite his wife.
She said the 4th-Century text was a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the 2nd Century.
She said initially she was sceptical about the yellowish brown papyrus, and started from the notion that it was a forgery - but that she quickly decided it was genuine.
Several other experts agreed, she said, but the "final judgment on the fragment depends on further examination by colleagues and further testing, especially of the chemical composition of the ink".
Ms King said the script was not proof of Jesus's marital status.
"It is not evidence, for us, historically, that Jesus had a wife," she said.
"It's quite clear evidence, in fact, that some Christians, probably in the second half of the 2nd Century, thought that Jesus had a wife."
Ms King said it revealed the concerns of early Christians with regards to family and marriage matters.
"From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry, but it was over a century after Jesus's death before they began appealing to Jesus's marital status to support their positions.
"What this shows is that there were early Christians for whom sexual union in marriage could be an imitation of God's creativity and generativity and it could be spiritually proper and appropriate."
Anybody who has spent any time reading about the life of Jesus has run across the theory that he probably was married, and if you read "The DaVinci Code" you were entertained with the notion that not only did Jesus marry Mary Magdalen, but that he also fathered children and the Catholic church took great pains to cover it up in order to protect their "No Girls Allowed" clubhouse.
Personally I was struck by the dismissive attitude reflected in my headline by some theologians, and their attempt to immediately call into question even the possibility that this piece of papyrus might hold evidence that their view of Christianity might not be completely accurate:
Jim West, a professor and Baptist pastor in Tennessee, said: "A statement on a papyrus fragment isn't proof of anything. It's nothing more than a statement 'in thin air', without substantial context."
Wolf-Peter Funk, a noted Coptic linguist attending the same conference as Ms King, said there were "thousands of scraps of papyrus where you find crazy things," and many questions remained about the fragment.
I find the statement identifying the papyrus as "nothing more than a statement 'in thin air'" to be very interesting in that it could also be used to describe the ENTIRE Old and New Testament of the Bible, which really only has the most rudimentary support from any scientific research to support many of its historic claims.
Besides the idea of Mary having been one of the disciples of Jesus is not a new idea at all, as it is documented in the Gospel of Mary.
Personally I have always had serious doubts that there was an actual historical Jesus, though I have read several books putting forth evidence to support that claim. But if there WAS it certainly would have made him more interesting and accessible to learn that he had a wife.
Just imagine the kind of positive impact that could have had on the Catholic Church, and Christianity in general.