Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jesus' Wife Fragment Latest: Leo Depuydt responds to Karen King

It's now almost a week since Harvard Theological Review published its issue focusing on the Jesus' Wife Fragment (The Jesus' Wife Fragment is Back).  I have enjoyed spending time reading and studying the issue over the last week and I am planning to offer some of my responses to it in due course.

Francis Watson composed an initial response last week, Jesus' Wife Attempts a Comeback: Initial Response, and I would also draw attention to Christian Askeland's helpful comments, Jesus' Wife Resurrected from the Dead, alongside his fascinating post drawing attention to an element in Leo Depuydt's article, Demotic Gospel of Thomas.

Leo Depuydt's article in HTR is entitled The Alleged Gospel of Jesus's Wife: Assessment and Evaluation of Authenticity, and it is followed by a response from Karen King.

Depuydt has now responded to Karen King's article, and I am happy to post that response here, with his permission:

Leo Depuydt

Update (Thursday, 8.50am): Jim Davila criticizes the sarcastic tone of Depuydt's response on Paleojudaica, concluding with the comment "I am still quite skeptical that the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is an ancient artifact, but King has made a real effort to keep the tone high and the skeptics should do the same."



19 comments:

Stephen Goranson said...

There once was a proof offprint known as "B.D. Sealing, 'Three Unrecognized Demotic Texts.'" It was listed in a Table of Contexts as starting on page 53:
http://www.oxbowbooks.com/pdfs/books/45296.pdf
This 12 page article proof, set in 1990 (?) and intended for Discussions in Egyptology 19 (1991), was, along with Mark Smith's contribution, replaced by an article by the editor, Alessandra Nibbi, "The So-called Plant of Upper Egypt." I think. (Thanks to UC-Berkeley and Duke interlibrary loan librarians.) More, probably, to follow.

Stephen Goranson said...

On page 158 of Harvard Theological Review (2014) Prof. Karen King wrote of the ms: "...no serious scholar considers [it] to be evidence of the historical Jesus's marital status."
On page 153 of the same article appears text (and translation from German) of "an unsigned and undated handwritten note": "Professor Fecht....is of the opinion that this could be evidence for a possible marriage."
Was Prof. Fecht not a "serious scholar" or is this note unreliable?

David Mackinder said...

Thanks for your coverage of this fascinating topic.

I found this recent blog entry on Karen King's published HTR paper very interesting, as it discusses the way blog comments are (or are not) cited and acknowledged: http://livlied.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/gjw-and-status-of-online-academic.html

Richard Budelberger said...

A little sh… This pretentious Depuydt hasn’t discovered nothing – as alleged here : « Francis Watson and I both independently discovered that WJF is but a patchwork » – because his mediocre initial report was never published, and was rewritten, using unfairly all that trained and untrained scholars have written – thinking, testing hypotheses, seeking… all together – during a month or two on the Web, in order to give EIGHTEEN months later, THE definitive report, a bullshit. As an AngloSaxon, Depuydt can’t apprehend the subtlety of our dogmas, the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, the Virginal Birth of our Saviour, the Perpetual Virginity of His Holy Mother ; Dr King – an honest and modest scholar – had to explain him – Her smug Highness – what’s the difference ! despite of that, Her Highness is still right, because his forger MUST make the same mistake as Her tremendous Majesty : « Could the forger have targeted the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the common [“Because it’s MINE” !] but mistaken belief that it pertains to the conception of Jesus by Mary? » !!!…

Dr Goodacre, I’m sure that this comment won’t be approved – before or after its publication here – exactly as my other comment here, censored twice – or there… ; all Depuydt’s fans ?… — : that means, for me, that you are no longer interested in following me on Twitter ? Am I – as in turn a Majesty Myself – right ?… I’m not a scholar – even I would be, certainly not an Academic one –, wherefore my free speech.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Stephen, for the interesting comment about the 1990? article. I look forward to more.

On the unsigned and undated handwritten note, I would like to see more. These materials are the closest we get to provenance, all the more given the anonymity of the fragment's owner, so I think it is essential that they are published.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, David. I agree -- a fascinating piece. It's definitely something I'd like to follow up on in due course.

Mark Goodacre said...

Richard -- you are always welcome to comment but please try to be more civil. The comment you made on an older post did not get posted because I have set blogger to moderate older comments before posting in order to reduce spam. Nevertheless, if I recall correctly, it was rather rude and so I could not bring myself to hit the publish button.

Richard Budelberger said...

Richard -- thinks that « Update (Friday, 8.50am) » is in fact « Update (Thursday, 8.50am East Coast time) », for this new attack – beside mine and this one, and, I hope, many other – against Leo Depuydt’s reports.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Richard. I'll correct that. Must have been wishful thinking that it was already Friday!

James Leonard said...

My money is on Depuydt/Watson, every cent of it, and the the strength of their argument is such to merit at least a little prickliness.

The real wonder is why and how all the money suddenly became available to do all this testing on a fragment that was so overwhelmingly show to be forged.

David Mackinder said...

regarding my earlier comment, in my haste and enthusiasm, I forgot to say that I first learned of Liv Ingeborg Lied's blog article via Jim Davila's PaleoJudaica. (Not sure which Tom Lehrer song is more apposite here, 'I got it from Agnes' or 'Lobachevsky'!)

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, James. It is indeed impressive to see the scope and extent of the tests and I, for one, was genuinely surprised to see so much invested in the fragment given the clear signs of forgery. The fact that the material tests did not lend any prima facie support to the forgery hypothesis appears to have given the story a new lease of life, resulting in the issue devoted to the piece alongside new interviews, an updated website and media stories.

With regard to funding, King's article says, "Funding for the carbon-14 (14C) testing was generously provided by a gift
from Tricia Nichols" (132).

Mark Goodacre said...

My guess is that the Tricia Nichols in question is this woman:

https://twitter.com/tricialnichols

Richard Budelberger said...

A better way to comment in your blog, Dr Goodacre, is in this way – with some HTML tags… – : « My guess is that the Tricia Nichols in question is this woman. »…

[I’ve ordered yesterday from Christianbook.com – with four others… – two books of a certain “Mark Goodacre”, and I’ve subscribed to The Journal for the Study of the New Testament, asking for a beginning with the “Gathercole-Goodacre issue” ; que pensez-vous de mes initiatives, Pr Dr Goofacre ?…]

Richard Budelberger said...

What are those « clear signs of forgery », Dr Goodacre ?

[In my own modest uncivil – or less civil – opinion, there is only one unclear sign of forgery… and numerous signs of possible forgery.]

Stephen Goranson said...

It would be interesting to compare the Sealing text with Walker and anonymous Editorial committee members.
Until last Thursday Brooklyn Museum's catalog listed a 12 page offprint by Sealing forthcoming in Discussions in Egyptology. In reply to an interlibrary loan request: it was not found and the record withdrawn. The WorldCat record remains.
Some "1875" title page fonts do not match Picayune Steam Job Print fonts that I have seen. Not conclusive, but maybe anachronistic.
"Arabian syllabary" may be anachronistic.
Though readers are invited to see the texts at "the offices" (no address given) upon application to the Secretary (not named), future readers may be addressed: "if only to make a lasting record..."
As I am not alone in noticing--Prof. Depuydt has interesting observations along this line--once the script was matched with the Rosetta Stone (by anonymous committee member) it was no longer "Unknown" (as in the title), even if unreadable.

Stephen Goranson said...

David Meadow's Explorator noted reports of a find of a tomb of an Egyptian scribe, with reed pens and a bronze inkwell. Dated circa 600 BC. Is that relatively early for the transition from rush brush and palette to reed pen and inkwell?
http://phys.org/news/2014-04-egypt-archaeologists-ancient-writer-tomb.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypt-archaeologists-find-ancient-writers-tomb/2014/04/19/858b5402-c7c3-11e3-b708-471bae3cb10c_story.html

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

What a fluffy interview! Where are the questions,

"Dr. King, one of the tests dated the document to the 800's, but your initial report placed it in the 300's or 400's; what does that say about the accuracy of your date-assessment methods of Coptic script?

And,

"Dr. King, one of the carbon-dating tests gave results that placed the papyrus prior to 200 B.C. Some might think that this is proof of forgery, inasmuch as it is much more likely that a forger would use ancient papyrus than that someone in the 800's would use a piece of papyrus 1,000 years old. Do you trust the results of that carbon-dating test? If not, why are we talking? If you do trust it, how is this not proof of forgery?"

And,

"About that comparison to New Testament fragments: how many of those NT fragments are, like this one you've published, in a fairly neat, fairly squared up rectangular shape? Can you name them? Or, can you name one?"

And,

"Give me three reasons why almost all of the text of this fragment is not derived from the Gospel of Thomas."

Can we have *that* interview, please, and not this marshmallow?

marquetteia said...

If Columbo were here he would straightaway be interested in (1) Professor King's activities at Berlin and (2) DNA testing being done on the hair fragments between the glass and the manuscript. Re. the former, interesting leads to go with interesting personalities will surely develop. Re. the latter, the detective would need all his persuasive powers to persuade the professor that no cigar ashes would alight upon the exposed manuscript. As for the provenance of the documentary evidence re. owners, scholars, etc. he would no doubt compare the handwriting allegedly of Fecht with persons who knew him. He would also like a rough estimate of the number and location of GTh mss at the time of GJW's writing. (After all, it's only IMPLAUSIBLE the fragment is not copied from the ms. of Gth we have.)The genius of Columbo was that he worked toward the exoneration of suspects AS he worked the circumstantial evidence. For those interested in motive from the standpoint of cultural psychology, see "Goddess Unmasked," a book that needed references if there ever was one. This, gentlemen, is an exercise but the preamble to an investigation into the enhanced, self-inflicted naivete of serminarians masquerading as 'students of religious studies' everywhere; or perhaps the naivete is our own? Thus, Columbo....