IntroductionA second fragment containing the gospel of John traveled with the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife fragment (GJW), and this Gospel of John fragment (GJohn) is clearly a forgery. Because both fragments share the same writing, the GJW must also be a forgery. I am grateful for the input that Alin Suciu, Mark Goodacre and many others have offered concerning the newly available Gospel of John fragment. I will use the present page to post photographs, a comparative transcription and relevant links. Please note, this will be a dynamic page, and I will no doubt update the transcriptions and main points. Over the course of the next week, I will write an article for the June 2014 Tyndale Bulletin discussing the paleography and text of this fragment.
PhotographsMark Goodacre has identified clearer photographs which I share, here (Jn 5:26-30 and 6:11-14, respectively). The dimensions are ca. 11 × 8 cm (versus ca. 7.5 × 4 cm for GJW.)
Qau comparedThe following transcription represents in green the extant text of the forgery. Mark Goodacre offers an eloquent discussion of how this inauthenticates both this fragment and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife fragment which were created through the same scribal event (font).
- Notably, seventeen of seventeen line breaks are the same. This defies coincidence.
- Alin Suciu first announced the relevance of Sahidic ⲉⲃⲟⲗ for Lycopolitan ⲁⲃⲁⲗ. The Sahidic spelling is not possible given the extant dialectal orthography which, for example, otherwise consistently has the Lycopolitan Alpha in lieu of the distinctly Sahidic Omicron.
- I note here that the omitted ⲕⲣⲓⲛⲉ results in total nonsense.
- Likewise, the one instance where the forger has not copied every second line (verso, ll. 7–8), is an instance in which the intermediary text is a secure stock phrase “they were saying that”. The presence of additional text here is impossible. The forger erred when he turned from page eight of Thompson’s PDF to page nine, having also passed plate 25/26.
- Naturally, the fact that we are seeing Lycopolitan in a fragment radiometrically dated to the seventh to ninth centuries is a huge problem. The minor dialects (Achmimic, Lycopolitan and Middle Egyptian) are not present in the extensive documentary tradition from the sixth to eighth centuries.
Radiometric datingThe fragment under discussion was carbon-dated twice by labs in Arizona and Massachusetts. The resultant rounded, callibrated two sigma dates are, respectively, 680–880 and 640–800 CE (fract.mod. results: 0.85680±0.0033 and 0.85030±0.00410). Along with the results for the GJW wife fragment, I have graphed the results using OxCal, here:
|Codex Qau, Jn 16:33–17:19|
|Brunton, Qau, vol.3, xlii|
Peter Munro’s typed noteIn her primary GJW article (p. 154, fn. 107), Karen King has provided the following information:
The second document is a photocopy of a typed and signed letter addressed to H. U. Laukamp dated July 15, 1982, from Prof. Dr. Peter Munro (Freie Universität, Ägyptologisches Seminar, Berlin), stating that a colleague, Professor Fecht, has identified one of Mr. Laukamp’s papyri as having nine lines of writing, measuring approximately 110 by 80 mm, and containing text from the Gospel of John. Fecht is said to have suggested a probable date from the 2nd to 5th cents. c.e. Munro declines to give Laukamp an appraisal of its value but advises that this fragment be preserved between glass plates in order to protect it from further damage. The letter makes no mention of the GJW fragment. The collection of the GJW’s owner does contain a fragment of the Gospel of John fitting this description, which was subsequently received on loan by Harvard University for examination and publication (November 13, 2012).
ConclusionUnless compelling counter-arguments arise, both this fragment and the Gospel of Jesus Wife fragment should now be considered forgeries beyond any doubt. Furthermore, the inauthenticity of the present fragment draws into question the broader group of documentation surrounding the Gospel of Jesus Wife which the owner provided to Karen King (contract of sale, typed note from Munro, handwritten note). This was already problematic, as the bill of sale is dated to 1999, three years before Grondin’s GThomas PDF was available online.
Links (suggestions by email welcome)
- Codex Qau online PDF
- Harvard spectroscopy results with images
- Goodacre’s summary
- Suciu’s final summary
- Depuydt’s summary
- Conan O’Brian’s evidence
- Summary by Carrie Schroeder
- May 5 Smithsonian documentary
- Livescience article
- Wall Street Journal opinion article
- Hagen on scribal habits
- Goranson’s Chronology
- New York Times article
- PBS NewsHour video clip
- Washington Post article
- Mashable article
- ABC News article (Spanish)
- Slate article
- CNN video clip
- Harvard Crimson article