[For updated information, cf. The forgery of the Lycopolitan Gospel of John]
|recto, Jn 5:26-30|
|verso, Jn 6:11-14|
Actually, if you are a Coptic nerd, there apparently is a bigger shocker... The text is in Lycopolitan and apparently is a(n exact?) reproduction from the famous Cambridge Qau codex, edited by Herbert Thompson. What is so shocking about that? Essentially all specialists believe that Lycopolitan and the other minor dialects died out during or before the sixth century. Indeed, the forger tried to offer two manuscripts both in Lycopolitan, but made two crucial mistakes. First, the NHC gospel of Thomas is not a pure Lycopolitan text, but the Qau codex is. That is we have two clearly different subdialects of Lycopolitan, which agree exactly with published texts. Second, this GJohn fragment has been 14C dated to the seventh to ninth centuries, a period from which Lycopolitan is totally unknown.
These are my initial thoughts, and I will update this blog within the next hours. My first assessment is that this a major blow to those arguing for the authenticity of GJW.
For the reader who has not closely followed the story so far, I would underscore the importance of this discovery. The inauthenticity claims against the Gospel of Jesus Wife fragment have been primarily based upon the fact that the GJW is clearly reconstructed from Grondin’s 2002 PDF of the Sahidic (with Lycopolitan influence) Gospel of Thomas, and secondarily based upon the bizarre appearance of the manuscript. All of us assumed that the Coptic John anchored the GJW with a real group of fragments with a known history, although this history was based upon photocopies of older documents possessed by a mysterious anonymous figure. These arguments find a perfect parallel with this second fragment.
My prior theory that the GJW was a forgery inserted into an otherwise authentic group of papyri has been shattered. We must now question whether the anonymous owner is nothing more than a prankster. I would not be surprised, if said owner vanishes into the aether. If the owner is not a prankster, he should come forward with the information necessary to reveal the forger (or vindicate the GJW). I am tempted to think that the forgery has roots in Germany, still, since there is an apparently idiomatically-composed handwritten note in German describing the Gospel of Jesus Wife. I hope that this will be released by Karen King or the owner.
Mark Goodacre’s synopsis post with better images
Mark Goodacre visually illustrates GJW-GJohn forgery
Leo Depuydt responds