Saturday, September 22, 2012

Francis Watson, Addendum: The End of the Line?

Prof. Francis Watson has written another piece on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife which I am happy to post here:

Francis Watson

There are therefore three articles in total, which I will gather here for the reader's convenience.  The first is for the non-specialist and the other two include discussion of the language:

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a fake Gospel-Fragment was composed
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
Francis Watson

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: How a fake Gospel-Fragment was composed
Francis Watson

Addendum: The End of the Line?
Francis Watson

Update (Monday): Francis Watson has now written a fourth piece over at Bible and Interpretation, with thanks to both Francis and to Jim West for sending me the link:

Inventing Jesus' Wife
Francis Watson

The essay summarizes the case for non-specialists and goes on to answer several key questions that arise from the analysis.

3 comments:

Richard Bauckham said...

Good argument, Francis. There's a somewhat analogous problem with the Gabriel Revelation, i.e. it doesn't seem to me the gaps are big enough to explain the text we have. (Of course, it's very different from the new fragment in that there's much more text.) This was a major reason I initially thought it was probably a forgery. However, everyone else seems to think it's authentic and has other good reasons for thinking so, so I've switched to the idea that it's an abbreviated version of a longer document. But that would certainly not be a plausible explanation of the 'Jesus' wife' fragment.

Unknown said...

I wonder if it's too late to have the Discovery Channel do a special or National Geographic put out a multi-page exposé.

~Dan

Mike Grondin said...

Watson's Addendum, though suitably circumspect, doesn't take account of what might be called the 'Bagnall Conjecture'. According to this conjecture, the fragment might be a portion of a page torn into pieces to increase value. If that is so, the most reasonable scenario seems to be that the page would have been torn down the middle. But if so, then the original page would have been about 38 letters per line, not the 31 that Watson considers maximal. In fact, one of Watson's samples (Codex II, p.99) has a median of 26 letters per line only because the length of the inscribed lines on that page (about 11 cm) is shorter than the conjectured line-length of 12cm (6cm being the breadth of the fragment). The density of lettering (about 18-19 letters per 6cm) is very similar, so that if one assumes that the fragment is about half a page, the inscription area would be about 12 cm and would contain about 38 letters per line. This is not to say, of course, that there aren't other problems with the fragment. There are. But Watson's thinking falls a mite short, by not considering that the Bagnall conjecture implies an inscribed line of about 38 letters, not the 25-31 that he considers.