Harvard Theological Review Passes On Silly 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' Fragment
The rumor is that Harvard Theological Review is now declining to publish Karen King’s paper available here as a draft pdf on the Coptic fragment she calls the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” It’s a rumor that appears to be true, as New Testament scholar Craig Evans writes:
Is the Coptic papyrus, in which Jesus speaks of his “wife,” a fake? Probably. We are far from a “consensus,” but one scholar after another and one Coptologist after another has weighed in pointing out serious problems with the paleography, the syntax, and the very troubling fact that almost all of the text has been extracted from the Gospel of Thomas principally from logia 30, 101, and 114. I suspect the papyrus itself is probably quite old, perhaps fourth or fifth century, but the oddly written or painted letters on the recto side are probably modern and probably reflect recent interest in Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The decision of the editors of Harvard Theological Review not to publish Karen King’s paper is very wise. Perhaps we will eventually learn more about who actually produced this text.
The ultimate source is apparently the great Harvard scholar Helmut Koester.
The academic world is quickly becoming skeptical about the ancient provenance of this fragment. Perhaps more interesting and of more enduring significance than the fragment itself is the role the internet has played in the debate. We have had a draft of King’s paper, photos of the fragment itself, and serious and measured responses from leading scholars all made available to the public, along with the typical professional hysteria in the media and amateur hysteria in the blogosphere.
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