Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gospel of Jesus' Wife - Smithsonian documentary in French

Back in September 2012, Smithsonian Channel were planning to air a documentary on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife. Once it became clear that there were several in the academic community who were uncertain about the authenticity of the piece, Smithsonian postponed the documentary and to this day it has not been broadcast in the USA.

However, it seems that it was in fact broadcast in France under the title Révélations sur la femme de Jésus and the film has found its way onto Youtube here:

The film has French commentary rather than subtitles, so you will need competent French to be able to follow it.  I must admit to enjoying watching the documentary.  It is beautifully produced, it largely avoids sensationalism, and gives lots of screen time to the three key players in the story, Karen King, Roger Bagnall and AnneMarie Luijendijk.  Luijendijk is even flown to Cairo for the documentary and discusses the Gospel of Philip there.  She also visits Nag Hammadi and gives the story of the find (genie and all) over against a new dramatization of the find in a one-person version.

The only other academics who appear in the piece are Dom. Henry Wansbrough, in Ampleforth, Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the Temple in London, and Alberto Camplani, who speaks to the issue of the authenticity of the fragment.

It looks like the documentary added in some footage after scholars began to question the authenticity of the piece, and Francis Watson's piece even gets a screenshot:

Francis Watson's essay appears on-screen in Révélations sur la femme de Jésus
This is around the 32 minute mark.  The only scholar brought on to discuss the authenticity of the piece is Camplani, and there are several shots of this article:

Alberto Camplani's article appears on-screen in Révélations sur la femme de Jésus
The documentary goes to King and Bagnall after the authenticity issues are raised, but the footage of them appears to be drawn from the same filming some time before September 2012.

It will be interesting to see if the documentary does eventually appear on screen elsewhere, and it will be interesting to see also if the articles about the fragment appear in the Harvard Theological Review this year.

Thanks to Andre Gagne for the link to the Youtube version of the film.


Richie Dagger said...

I wonder what their thinking was in releasing it just in France?

Maybe they feared that English speaking audiences would be more critical about controversial finds, especially before all of the evidence is in?

Obviously some money was put into the production of the documentary. Guess it makes sense that they'd try to squeeze some airtime out of it someplace.

Unknown said...

Translation in French of the fragment (at 02:09, 10:07 & 11:03) :
(1) « Ma mère m’a donné la vie »
(2) « Les disciples ont dit à Jésus »
(3) « Renonce. Marie est digne »
(4) « Jésus leur dit : “Ma femme…” »
(5) « Elle est capable d’être l’une de mes disciples »
(6) « Laissons croupir les malfaisants »
(7) « Je suis uni à elle »

We hear also these interesting informations :
— 06:12 : « Le terme d’épouse est également mentionné en deux lettres. » (that is “TA”…) ;
09:15 : « À la lumière infrarouge, des lettres indéchiffrables apparaissent sur la partie droite. » ;
22:38 : « Même saint Paul qui a connu Jésus pouvait ne pas savoir si Jésus était marié ou non. ».