Monday, August 24, 2020

"Tahime . . . She's true and not fake!"

Over the last eight years or so of blogging about the Gospel of Jesus's Wife, I have occasionally thought about posting a piece of fun speculation. Every time I think about it, I think "Shall I post this?" and then I think, "Nah; it's stupid. Move on." To be fair, I often think that about a lot of things. 

I probably would have forgotten all about it if it were not for one of the journalists covering the Jesus's Wife story seriously wondering if there might be something in it when I told her about it for a laugh. Even so, they wisely did not publish on something so speculative. Andrew Bernhard and I have talked about this occasionally, and after chatting about it this morning, I have decided there is nothing to lose at this point in airing my fun speculation.

So I preface this with the comment: this speculation is probably ridiculous! 

But here's the thing. The Urban Dictionary allows people to go in and create words and definitions of the kind of everyday slang that would never find its way into proper dictionaries. Back in September 2012, I was wondering how easy it would be for a forger to find the Coptic phrase tahime ("my wife") on the internet given that it would not have been possible for the forger to find it in Coptic Thomas. So I googled the transliterated tahime and found very little except this, in Urban Dictionary:


She is a girl that is very unique, cool ,calm, and a little bit loud. She has a temper. She is so pretty and very beautiful. She always has little self-confidence because she doesn't feel accepted or pretty. She thinks nobody likes her. That isnt [sic] true. She is loved by everyone! She is a sensitive girl and tries to make everyone happy. She doesn't bitch at people. SHE IS SOOO FUNNY!!! She is true and not fake. She will be your best friend till forever. She sometimes may act a little cocky and nerdy. She is so random at times but it will make you laugh. She loves friends.

"Hey that girl is so Tahime." "You mean she's unique?" "HELL YEAH BRO! "

I wouldn't have given it a second look but for a couple of things. "She is true and not fake" made me wonder, and then there is the author / date stamp:

 by goo goo gaa gaa 456 December 07, 2011

Karen King's article gave the date of the owner's visit to Harvard, to hand over the fragment, as "December 2011", the same month that this entry was added to Urban Dictionary by "goo goo gaa gaa 456". Sabar dates the visit to December 14, 2011, within a week of the entry appearing.

There is no evidence that I can find anywhere that Tahime has any such meaning. Absolutely nobody uses it that way. And in so far as Tahime crops up, it is as a male name (e.g. the character "Tahime Sanders" in Life of a King), and not a female slang term.

It is, of course, highly likely to be a coincidence. This is just some random entry by who-knows-who? about who-knows-who? in what is probably an in-joke that will never be known to others.

Yet one of the things that made me dismiss the possibility of a link every time I considered it was that I couldn't imagine the forger of the fragment being so playful, and imitating, in a rather irritating way, how he imagines young people speak. I was working on the assumption that his motivation was financial given all the talk about selling the manuscripts in King's article. But now, having read Sabar's Veritas, I can't help wondering again if Fritz might just have done this in another attempt at humour. There are so many playful elements that Sabar reveals, including Fritz's love of Monty Python, and his use of "abdicate" in his interlinear, that I am now wondering if it is really quite as ridiculous as I had first thought that this too could be a playful addition by the forger himself.

This blog post will self-destruct as soon as someone points out the flaw in the comments below!

* "The current owner contacted Karen L. King via email requesting that she look at the fragment to determine its content. The owner then delivered the papyrus by hand to Harvard Divinity School in December, 2011, and generously gave permission to publish" (Karen King, "Jesus said to them . . . " draft, September 17 2012, p. 3).


Richard Bauckham said...

The definition reads like the description of a real person. There is no way that a single word could actually mean all that. The author is describing someone they know and, for a joke, promoting her name as a slang term. The name may be Japanese. In any case, there are so many very unusual names around and even invented names that only one person bears that it doesn't surprise me that the use of this one as a female name does not appear on the internet. The use of the word "fake" accords exactly with the definition of this word in the Urban Dictionary. It fits the context exactly. So I see nothing but coincidence here!

Richard Bauckham said...

I now see that the example of usage "You mean she's unique" is the clue to the joke. If she's really unique, there cannot be anyone else like her. So "Tahime" can actually describe only this one person.

Richard Bauckham said...

Mark, you might also like to know that, if you google Images for goo goo gas gas 456, your Tahime mug is there!!

Stephen Goranson said...

Not WF. His wife--duh. (not)

Mark Goodacre said...

Many thanks, Richard. I have wondered the same ever since I first saw this, hence my reluctance to post what is only speculation. But I'm not convinced that that is the answer. The description of the person is all over the place. She has "little self-confidence" yet she is also "cocky"; she is "cool ,calm" (sic) but she has a temper. It looks like a stream of consciousness imitating (imagined) teenage language.

Thanks, Stephen. I wondered that too!

Richard Bauckham said...

Here is one example of Tahime as a female name