Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Jesus' Wife Fragment is Back

Regular readers of the NT Blog will know of my interest in the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife and after several months without news, a whole raft of news, features, interviews and -- most importantly -- articles in the Harvard Theological Review, all emerged today.  The media reaction to the news is often predictably over-simplified and over-stated, but the key resources for study are the following:

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife 2014 Update

Here, Harvard Divinity School provide a major update and revision of their earlier (September 2012) website on the fragment, with a new press release, an introduction, a revised Q & A, new digital photographs and scientific reports. Much of this is new material and repays careful reading.

The Harvard Magazine also has an article today:

The Jesus Wife Fragment: The Scientific Evidence

Most important, though, is the latest edition of HTR, which is dominated by materials on the fragment:

Harvard Theological Review

There are several articles on the fragment, including a massively revised version of Karen King's “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . .'”: A New Coptic Papyrus Fragment, several scientific analyses of the papyrus and ink, a paleographical discussion by Malcolm Choat, an article arguing for forgery by Leo Depuydt, and a brief rejoinder from Karen King.

Media coverage has included pieces in the Boston Globe and the New York Times.

There has already been some strong discussion of the latest news in the blogs.  I would particularly recommend the pieces by Jim Davila, Larry Hurtado, Christopher Rollston and Bob Cargill, as well as the typically helpful round-up from James McGrath.

I have been in meetings all day, and at an enjoyable dinner for a retiring colleague this evening, so I have not had time to analyze the fresh evidence with the kind of care necessary to blog about it today, so I will wait until I have a moment to make some observations.  I have now had the chance to read almost everything, but I need to take some time to digest everything properly before adding my own additional comments.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Depuydt is right. Without a doubt the text is a crude forgery which was carried out on a fragment of ancient papyrus and with ink made from the same ancient components; something very easy to play, because there is a lot of information posted on the components of carbon inks used from the early centuries of Christianity up to the Byzantine times. But the paleographic and grammatical analysis shows, beyond any reasonable doubt possible, that it is a forgery and the more grotesque.

Here’s the first palaeographic report just a few days since the news came out to the media in 2012:

Kind regards,

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Georgeos. I hadn't read your report until now. You make some strong observations.

Jason Pratt said...


You might enjoy my popular overview of Dr. King's tempest in a teacup (linked back to your article for reference among other places), over at the Cadre Journal:

While trying to catch up on the situation for writing the article, I noticed there seemed to be no current discussion about the suspicious reported detail of the GJW's first text lines matching up with damaged text from a GosThom page. Did that get solidly refuted and I missed it? -- despite my sometimes snippy attitude I don't want to be unfairly critical of the text (so far as it goes. Which isn't at all far. {lopsided g})

I haven't read all your collected article links yet, though, so it might be mentioned in one of them...? Dr. Depuydt didn't mention it in his attempt at a forgery argument, which seemed very peculiar to me. (Perhaps needless to say, Dr. King didn't mention it either in her rebuttal, though she might have had good reason not to.)


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Goodacre... I just wish that my paleographic analysis of the fake Coptic text about the supposed wife of Jesus, may be useful, in some great scholars like you.

My sincere thanks and a very cordial greeting for you...

Unknown said...

Dr Goodacre, read primarily – as I did – the Spanish version of Georgeos Díaz-Montexano’s paper, a 18 months old excellent paper.

Anonymous said...

Estimado Sr. Budelberger. ¡Muchísimas gracias! por tan buena opinión sobre mi análisis preliminar paleográfico.

Un cordial saludo,

Unknown said...

You deserve this kudos, Estimado Sr Díaz-Montexano, for your paper, written so quickly after Dr King’s presentation, even if I’m not qualified for appreciating technical arguments (but I’m aware that some well-known scholars appreciated your work.)

And you were kind enough to provide an English translation, but alas ! partial. (Don’t you know that French is the Universal language ?…)

Unknown said...

What does Jason Pratt mean, writing « the suspicious reported detail of the GJW’s first text lines matching up with damaged text from a GosThom page » ? are you talking about the “Missing M” in #GJW line 1 ? Leo Depuydt was unable to write something about it, because the first version of his paper was written before its discovery (published on October 9, 2012 2:37 a.m.) ; and he was not interested in a serious revised version of his “draft” for publication in April 2014 ; so, Dr King was happy not to have to refute this argument…

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends...

The small sign or seal discovered at the lower end of the papyrus, has been cut. They can compare the original photo and an extension on my paleographical report of October 2012 (fig. 10) with recent photo published on the analysis of the ink. Surely say that this piece was cut for analysis were 14C. It would be interesting to see if this is what they cut. In any case, it turns out that piece, coincidentally itself could contain ancient ink as I have always believed that this is an ancient sign Coptic or Greek.

My dear sir Budelberger once again sincerely thank you for your kind and honest recognition of my contributions.

Very cordial regards,

The original in Spanish:

Unknown said...

Have a look there [27],
Estimado Sr Díaz-Montexano

[May I cite here who are the esteemed scholars who appreciate your work, Sr Díaz-Montexano ?]