Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gospel of Jesus' Wife – Final Death Throes?

The authenticity of the Coptic "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" fragment, announced by Karen L. King during the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome, and submitted for publication in Harvard Theological Review, has been severely doubted from the beginning  by a number of scholars, including co-authors of this blog for a number of reasons relating to palaeography and textual content.

Francis Watson and others have demonstrated that the new "Gospel" is in effect a collage of words and phrases from The Gospel of Thomas. Now, some very telling signs are turning up successively that the papyrus text has been copied from Mike Grondin's on-line interlinear translation of the same. The possibility was pointed out first by Andrew Bernhard because of the awkward translation of line 6. From what I hear, Bernhard will present more compelling evidence on his website devoted to The Gospel of Jesus' Wife very soon. Stay tuned!

UpdateVoila (Andrew Bernhard)!

The straw that breaks the camel's back: "Line 1 of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife fragment copies a typo from a website interlinear of Coptic Thomas" (see Mark Goodacre's post)

 Our previous posts in chronological order:

Gospel of Jesus' Wife (Askeland's "live report" from the Coptic Congress in Rome where the fragment was announced by Karen King)

Yet Another Question about the So-Called Gospel of Jesus' Wife

A New Twist in the So-Called Gospel of Jesus' Wife Saga

Top-notch Coptologists Judges GJW to Be a Fake 

Was Mrs Jesus Pimped? 

More questions on Jesus' Wife Fragment


Stephen Goranson said...

tentative chronology (corrections welcome):
2nd century claimed date of Greek "gospel"
2nd-4th c. claimed date of a Coptic Gospel of John ms
4th century claimed date of ms
1960s claimed date Laukamp purchased in East Germany
1961 G. Fecht in Orientalia suggests Gospel of Truth was composed in Coptic not Greek
1982 July 15 letter from Munro to Laukamp
1982-1983 K. King at Free Uni, Berlin
1983 Egyptian antiquities law
1987 Fecht FS
1997 claimed purchase from German-American collector
1997ff copyright dates of Mike Grondin online Coptic Thomas
2001 Hans-Ulrich Laukamp death
2006 Gerhard Fecht death
2008 Peter Munro death
2010 July 9 email, collector to K. King
2011 Dec. ms to K. King

Mark Goodacre said...

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

This appears to be excellent work by Francis Watson, Alin Suciu, Andrew Bernhard, et al.

I have no hesitation about calling this fragment a forgery. Perhaps now the same media that called it "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" will find a more appropriate name for it.

Any word from Bagnell and Luyendijk [sic]?

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Peter M. Head said...

I tend to think that the cumulative argument of Bernhard - that all the grammatical oddities in GJW can be explained as arising from incompetent compositional practices - is stronger than the argument from the agreement in lacking a single letter.

Peter M. Head said...

If Bernhard is right then it basically requires a more recent forgery, and hence that the apparatus around the manuscript and indeed the whole German connection, is part of the fakery.

Peter M. Head said...

I would say that without some more argument or evidence in support of its antiquity then GJW is dead in the water.

That could still come in either the ink analysis or the letters claimed to have been purchased with the manuscript.

Or someone could attempt a response/rebuttal of either the compositional arguments (Watson, Goodacre, Bernhard), the scribal arguments (Askeland, Suciu) or the palaeographical/papyrological arguments (Head?).

But so far the Tendenz of the internet discussions is becoming clear - whatever aspect of this you investigate closely, the more you look the more questions arise.

P.J. Williams said...

The gun is indeed smoking, but we can't yet see who was holding it when it went off.

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...


About ink-analysis: isn't it possible to create artificially old ink by using genuinely old ingredients?

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Christian Askeland said...

The ink analysis will not say anything about the age. It will describe the ink's ingredients. So, yes, the ink analysis will not tell us much, unless the forger was so dumb as to have used a marker. Actually, I would not be surprised from the character formation if this were the case.

Peter M. Head said...

I don't know what sort of analysis of the ink they are doing. If it turns out that the ink uses ingredients typical of antiquity then that would have to be taken into account. That would be surprising to me. I'm with Christian - I suspect a marker pen of some sort.

Bain Wellington said...

To supplement (and, in small degree, correct) Stephen Goranson's chronology:-
The film, the Da Vinci Code, was released world-wide between 17 and 26 May 2006
Fecht died on 13 December 2006, http://www.fitzmuseum