Friday, April 25, 2014

GJW: conclusively a forgery?

CHRISTIAN ASKELAND (ETC BLOG): Jesus had an ugly sister-in-law.

The too-clever title of this blog post misled me yesterday into thinking it was a joke or satire, and I was busy so I didn't read it until this morning. It is actually a very important contribution to the debate about the authenticity of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife. It seems that Harvard website has more information on the ink tests, which included the elusive fragment of the Gospel of John which came along with the GJW. A photo of the Gospel of John fragment is included. And Coptologists Askeland and Alin Suciu conclude that it is an obvious fake. The Harvard fragment is based on a modern edition of a Coptic manuscript of John, down to the same line divisions, and the dialect of the fragment is too early for the date of the papyrus it is written on. And it is written in the same handwriting, in the same ink, and using the same writing instrument as the GJW. The two were written by the same person.

This is very big. Unless the claims of the Coptologists can be shown to be wrong, the evidence is conclusive. The Gospel of Jesus' Wife is a fake.

See also further comments by Mark Goodacre.

Endless background on the GJW going right back to the first announcement is here and follow the links.

UPDATE: Leo Depuydt weighs in by e-mail over at What's New in Papyrology.

UPDATE: Hot off the press (virtually speaking), this article by Charlotte Allen in the Weekly Standard Magazine has already been overtaken by events. But it's a good overview of the story up to yesterday: The Wife of Jesus Tale. An investigation into the origins of a scrap of papyrus raises more questions than it resolves.

UPDATE: Bible History Daily (BAS) links, in an e-mailing received just a few minutes ago, to a summary by Noah Wiener of the state of the question as of 23 April, two days ago. Wiener surveys the story commendably thoroughly with lots of links to recent blog posts: The “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus Revisited. Harvard Divinity School declares the papyrus ancient, but the debate rages on. But again the story has moved on significantly in the last two days and the piece needs an update.