Harvard professor who made 'The Gospel of Jesus's Wife' famous now thinks it's likely a fake [ADN]

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by World Press, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. World Press

    World Press Active Member

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    Harvard professor who made 'The Gospel of Jesus's Wife' famous now thinks it's likely a fake

    Author: Ben Guarino, The Washington Post | Published June 24, 2016.

    The front of the papyrus fragment known as “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife.” (Karen L. King, Harvard, 2012)

    "Jesus said to them, My wife . . ."

    Written in an ancient script on a 1,300-year-old papyrus scrap, those six words have attracted huge amounts of attention. If true, those words could shatter one of the long-held tenets of Christianity. The announcement alone of the scrap's discovery at the International Congress of Coptic Studies in 2012, prior to peer-reviewed publication, came as a shock – though what was initially greeted with applause quickly turned to skepticism.

    Professor Karen L. King, of Harvard University's Divinity School, made headlines when she revealed what would become known as "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife." In a paper published later in the Harvard Theological Review, King wrote: "On the basis of the age of the papyrus, the placement and absorption of the ink on the page, the type of the handwriting, and the Coptic grammar and spelling, it was concluded that it is highly probable that the fragment is an ancient text."

    She unveiled the papyrus in Rome, not far from the Vatican. If her goal was to construct a theological lightning rod, King succeeded. After the announcement, but prior to the paper's publication, journalist Ariel Sabar asked Harvard Theological Review editor Kevin J. Madigan if the questions hounding the text would be an impediment.

    "Everything is now on hold until we are able, with Professor King's help and by scientific dating, to establish the authenticity of the text," he replied, in an email interview published by Smithsonian Magazine. The journal awaited "further verification from Coptological papyrologists and grammarians."

    It took two years, but the editors, it seems, were satisfied. King's paper was ultimately published in 2014, writing that the scrap likely originated in the sixth or ninth century – if not earlier.

    But King's report was not the only discussion of the papyrus in the 2014 issue of the Harvard Theological Review. In a blistering critique, Brown University's Leo Depuydt compared the bold Coptic lettering on the "my" in "my wife" to a "Monty Python sketch."

    As The Washington Post reported, Depuydt wrote: "If the forger had used italics in addition, one might be in danger of losing one's composure."

    In addition to the scrap's academic doubters, one avenue remained curiously unexplored: where the scrap came from in the first place. That no one had pursued the provenance of the scrap struck some observers as strange.

    Importantly, it struck Sabar as strange. Sabar was one of the first journalists to break the story with his Smithsonian coverage. He had never quite let the mystery go. As he recently wrote in a detailed feature in the Atlantic, there was too much uncertainty – all of the people said to have had the scrap before King had died. King argued, therefore, that despite the unfortunate "lack of information," uncovering its origin was "impossible."

    "But was there a lack of information?" Sabar wrote. "Or just a lack of investigation?"

    Sabar took it upon himself to investigate, and the resulting saga swerved from Harvard to East Germany to Florida and, finally, landing on a well-educated German man named Walter Fritz. Though he steadfastly denied fabricating the scrap, Fritz appeared to have the necessary grasp of Coptic and the ability to source ancient papyrus. (Which, according to the Atlantic, takes little more than an eBay account.) It was Fritz who gave the scrap to King, and Sabar found historical inaccuracies — from the 1980s — in Fritz's documents accompanying the text. Already hammered by academics like Depuydt, "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife" was dealt an all but mortal blow by Sabar's Atlantic investigation.

    For her part, King is no longer convinced the text is ancient.

    "If you ask me today which direction am I leaning more toward – ancient text or a modern forgery – based on this new evidence, I'm leaning toward modern forgery," King told The Associated Press on Monday.

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  2. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Unhinged SC Anglican
    Why don't these people bother some other religion with their fabrications
    Adegbuyi Emmanuel and Madeline like this.
  3. Adegbuyi Emmanuel

    Adegbuyi Emmanuel New Member

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    It is part of what we are to experience as christians
    Aidan and Spherelink like this.
  4. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    N Ireland
    Traditional RomanCatholic
    Welcome on board my young African brother, may you be a harbinger of things to come
  5. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    I would imagine that these people focus on the Christian faith because our God is real, our God is unchanging despite societal "progress," and these people just cannot stand it.

    I'm curious to see if King will divest herself of any earnings from this "work" of hers and will strike this publication from her list of writing credits. Also, how would she handle a situation involving a student whose work was based on the same level of "proof" she operated with?
    Andy likes this.