Thursday, September 27, 2012

Was Mrs Jesus Pimped?

I know of no excuse for hyping a fragment whose origins and significance are so uncertain.  A reporter in Rome informed me that his media outlet had an agreement with King to interview only persons on a list.  In exchange, his publication got a jump on the story.  At least one newspaper had a similar deal, and a slew of journalists were on the scene for (it seems) two press conferences.  One colleague told me that this was the new way of doing things.

More than a week after Karen King's spectacular public unveiling of the new gospel fragment, discussion and speculation continue.  (N.B. the Harvard Theological Review will publish her article -- the only question is when.)  Generally speaking, the debate has turned to composition and readings from Thomas (Watson et al., HT: NTBlog).  My concerns still lie with the likelihood of forgery, and I would like to raise this issue one final time before I move on.

The issue of dating has essentially been ignored.  King's citation of the Schøyen Middle Egyptian Matthew, the Nag Hammadi Genesis cartonnage, and other manuscripts did more to hurt than help her fourth century date, since they bear no close resemblance to the relevant fragment.  Although a few older scholars still assign dates paleographically, the practice is broadly considered indefensible by those in the guild (e.g. Layton, Emmel, Schüssler, and many others).  Hugo Lundhaug and Alin Suciu have outlined their various concerns about the fragment's authenticity in a key post on the subject, here.  Below, my own video describes some the key peculiarities of this manuscript which potentially support the forgery hypothesis.  The video is intended for a non-specialist audience.

We know what the media does with these stories. Consider the following misinformation which has King making statements which seem to blatantly contradict her article.  Never let facts get in the way of a good story!

Other interesting posts (to be updated)

Top-notch Coptologist Judges Gospel of Jesus' Wife a Fake