The Owner of the "Gospel of Jesus’ Wife" Unveiled

"The Atlantic has an incredible story uncovering the formerly anonymous owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus. . . . Fritz denies forging the papyrus, but the reporter of the story seems unconvinced. And for good reason." Evangelical Textual Criticism

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Darrell Post's picture

And part two of the article was posted a few days later:

http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2016/06/more-on-gospel-o...

It is amazing that a Harvard prof was so easily duped, apparently led astray by her bias (against Christianity) and so she pushed this papyrus fragment forward as legit.

Had this been our side trying to use something concocted to defend conservative faith, they would be loudly calling us out for the forgery and falsehoods.

But as it is, their damage was done...no doubt there will be people out there who now think that Jesus had a wife because they heard a story about this papyrus fragment, but never heard later that it was a forgery that fooled a Harvard prof.

Darrell Post's picture

from the Atlantic article:

"Particularly flawed was the Church’s claim that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were truer accounts of Jesus’s life than the Gnostic Gospels.

He pointed to the fact that almost no papyri bearing the canonical Gospels have been carbon-dated, because such testing would cause physical damage to the New Testament’s seminal manuscripts—damage that institutions like the Vatican Library would never countenance."

So many flaws in his thinking here. First of all, the Vatican Library has a large cache of NT manuscripts, but relatively few papyri. Other than P75, most papyri is in the UK, Egypt, and various places scattered around the USA. Second, the best dating method is simply comparing hand-writing styles to dated manuscripts of the same style. And third, the discoveries within the last 100 years have shown the canonical gospels to be ancient. P52 (gospel of John) for instance is dated to about 125 AD. There is also rumor of a forthcoming publication of a Mark fragment that pushes toward the 1st century.

Bert Perry's picture

Darrell, it strikes me that given the egregious errors in the language and such, it becomes much harder to argue that she was just "tricked", in my opinion.  I am ordinarily strongly opposed to assuming that people's disagreement with us is due to malice, but when you've got basic grammatical errors in the Coptic language, it's akin to someone trying to sell a purported love note from George Washington to his mistress that contains jive or Yiddish--the "nonsense detectors" ought to be pegged at that point.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Darrell Post's picture

Bert, I said it was amazing she was so easily duped...trying to be charitable, but I did intend a sniff of sarcasm in my words too. The point being, you don't get to be a Harvard prof and be that easily duped. You are on the mark regarding the grammatical anachronisms. Like Dan Rather's faked document that used typeface characters and spacing that didn't exist at the time the document was purported to have been written.

Ron Bean's picture

Would I be correct in assuming that there may have also been more than one person named Jesus at the time of this fragment?

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

Would I be correct in assuming that there may have also been more than one person named Jesus at the time of this fragment?

Variants of "Joshua" or "Yehoshua' " have been common in Hebrew culture for something like four millenia, yes.  And of course, the name has also caught on among Gentiles.  You would have to infer who they would be talking about from the context that one might not be able to infer from a few lines of Coptic script. 

Darrell, time to pour some more sarcasm on this obviously Ivy League level work, don't you think?  Maybe this time I'll catch it.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Darrell Post's picture

Ron, The text displayed on the fragment used nomina sacra abbreviations IC (with a line over the letters) which without a doubt identifies the Jesus mentioned as one and the same with the Jesus of the New Testament.

Darrell Post's picture

Here is an image of the fragment:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Jesus%27_Wife#/media/File:Gospel...

You can see the reference to IC (Jesus) with the super-scripted line, indicating the sacred abbreviation, both near the end of the 2nd line as well as near the middle of the fourth line. So there is no question that, as written, this is referring to Jesus Christ. The only question was whether or not its a forgery, and that question has now been sufficiently answered. The only thing left to be resolved is the extent of the embarrassment and loss of reputation for Prof. King.

Larry Nelson's picture

 

"For four years, Karen L. King, a Harvard historian of Christianity, has defended the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” against scholars who argued it was a forgery. But Thursday, for the first time, King said the papyrus—which she introduced to the world in 2012—is a probable fake.

She reached this conclusion, she said, after reading The Atlantic’s investigation into the papyrus’s origins, which appears in the magazine’s July/August issue and was posted to its website Wednesday night.

“It tips the balance towards forgery,” she said."

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/karen-king-responds-...

 

Darrell Post's picture

“It tips the balance towards forgery,” she said."

Tips the balance? The guy lied to Prof. King, lied to the reporter multiple times, had training in Egyptology and a knowledge of Coptic, had a drawing room in his house, hated the church, wished to see gnostic gospels gain acceptance over canonical gospels, and couldn't resist blowing his own cover because he would be the subject of the Atlantic article, even though it was going to be negative about him. And to top it off, he ended his interview with the Atlantic reporter by trying to con him into a partnership to write made up The Da Vinci Code style book to make money.

Yeah, Prof. King, this more than tips the balance.

 

Jim's picture

Harvard Theological Review won’t retract ‘Jesus’s Wife’ paper

Ariel Sabar: In my Nov. 2012 @SmithsonianMag piece, HTR editor said King's article wouldn't be pub'd until scrap authenticated.

2012 Smithsonian article After flying back from Italy, I e-mailed Kevin J. Madigan, co-editor of the Harvard Theological Review and an associate dean at the divinity school. “Everything is now on hold until we are able, with Professor King’s help and by scientific dating, to establish the authenticity of the text,” he replied, saying the journal also was interested in “further verification from Coptological papyrologists and grammarians.”

Darrell Post's picture

David N. Hempton, dean of the Harvard Divinity School, said in a statement on the school’s website that the school’s mission is to “pursue truth through scholarship, investigation, and vigorous debate.”

And yet when truth smacks them upside the head with a 2 x 4, they instead dig in and say this:

“HDS is therefore grateful,” he said, “to the many scholars, scientists, technicians, and journalists who have devoted their expertise to understanding the background and meaning of the papyrus fragment. HDS welcomes these contributions and will continue to treat the questions raised by them with all the seriousness they deserve.”

It's surreal. The thing is a fake, and they press on as though they have done research on something genuine. These same folks would howl with delighted scorn if conservatives were caught fabricating something that defended the faith...and then responded by digging in.

Furthermore, Harvard Prof. King had NO INTEREST in attempting to establish the provenance of this fragment. Her only interest was to push this fragment forward because of its content. The Atlantic reporter did some investigative research, but if you read the article paying attention to what he actually did, anyone could have done some of that with a few google searches, phone calls, etc. Why wasn't Harvard interested more in the provenance of this fragment? They were too busy salivating over the content.

Darrell Post's picture

Furthermore, the Atlantic reporter's more challenging task was to figure out with certainty who owned the fragment and gave it to Prof. King. That was the hard part....the research was easy after that. But Prof. King knew it was Walter Fritz. Had she wanted to know more about him and what he was up to, she easily could have asked a few grad assistants to do some research on Fritz and expose most of what the Atlantic reporter easily found.

Bert Perry's picture

Seems that Hahvid is rocking the same vibe that CBS did when Dan Rather published the fake papers from "Word" about President Bush, and that Katie Couric was recently caught doing regarding the firearms issue.  I expect that academia will close ranks around "Professor" King (quotes to indicate lack of academic integrity) and not punish her by sending her Ph.D.s to Podunk U. instead of first tier academic slots.

Sorry to be cynical, but the amount of sheer....nonsense (trying to be polite here)...that I see out of the top schools just boggles the mind.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

accreditition.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Bert Perry's picture

Rob Fall wrote:

And folks want to push accreditition.

,,,I've got to admit that accreditation is only as good as the people doing it.  That goes for college accreditation, ISO, and the specific topic here; peer review.  To beat a drum that's showing wear and tear already from me, this is why the culture of an organization (university, church, whatever) is SO important.  Rules mean squat if the culture is against you.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

accreditation.  I am saying there are some (though not on SI) who look down on schools which are either not accredited or are independent of a particular denomination.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Bert Perry's picture

i don't know that I will say that I particularly "look down" on schools without accreditation, but I will confess to telling my kids that it does matter whether people in the secular world care about the degrees they've gotten.  I've seen too many Bible college grads fail to get in the door in their field of study because of lack of accreditation.  It matters.

But you are correct to point out that it will matter a lot less if professors like this are tolerated, and increasingly they are.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.