Live Science has been doing some digging in connection with the story associated with the Jesus Wife Fragment and this interesting article was published today:
'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text
By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor
I'm impressed that Live Science has followed leads actually to investigate the back story to the alleged discovery. Given the owner's apparent insistence on anonymity, and given Harvard's apparent reluctance (so far at least) to publish the documents that are associated with the fragment, one of the only avenues available in tracing the fragment's back story is to investigate the names associated with it. The Live Science article centres on the most mysterious of the three, Hans-Ulrich Laukamp. This is the crucial passage in the article, but it's all worth reading:
Our findings indicate that Laukamp was a co-owner of the now-defunct ACMB-American Corporation for Milling and Boreworks in Venice, Fla. Documents filed in Sarasota County, Fla., show that Laukamp was based in Germany at the time of his death in 2002 and that a man named René Ernest was named as the representative of his estate in Sarasota County.
In an exchange of emails in German, Ernest said that Laukamp did not collect antiquities, did not own this papyrus and, in fact, was living in West Berlin in 1963, so he couldn't have crossed the Berlin Wall into Potsdam. Laukamp, he said, was a toolmaker and had no interest in old things. In fact, Ernest was astonished to hear that Laukamp's name had been linked to this papyrus . . . .Read the whole article here.
Update (10.18pm): Alin Suciu makes the good point that Laukamp would not have had trouble, if he had West German papers, in travelling to East Germany, so it may be that this aspect of the story requires revision.
Update (Wednesday, 12.56pm): Commenter lizw notes:
"West Berliners were treated differently from other West Germans by the East German authorities. In 1963/64, the only period when an ordinary West Berliner would have been able to cross to the East was over the Christmas period, from 17 December 1963 to 5 January 1964. (Detailed chronology in the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Berlin#Traffic_between_East_and_West_Berlin). So while it is not impossible that Laukamp obtained the papyrus in Potsdam that year, it seems unlikely for someone with no prior interest in such material."Moreover, Owen Jarus, author of the above article in Live Science writes:
This link discusses pass agreements between west-east Berlin.
Border crossing only started December 17, 1963 and the crosser had toSo it appears that indeed it is the case that a 1963 purchase of the fragment by Hans-Ulrich Laukamp in Potsdam is problematic.
have a pass, a relative in Berlin and the pass appears to be valid
only for Berlin only. Things improved in 1972 with the passing of the