Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The story of the GJW

JOEL BADEN AND CANDIDA MOSS: The Curious Case of Jesus’s Wife. Lab tests have suggested that a papyrus scrap mentioning Jesus's wife is authentic. Why do most scholars believe it's fake? (The Atlantic). An excellent, thoughtful account of the whole affair from its beginning to the present. Yours truly is quoted, along with many other bibliobloggers who contributed to the debate. The article concludes:
Indeed, in the scholarly world of ancient history and ancient texts, little is truly unimaginable—because so little, in the end, is truly known. Despite the piles of evidence suggesting that the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife is a forgery, there remains the possibility, however slim, that it is authentic. So the question becomes this: How much historical reconstruction are scholars willing to stake on such narrow grounds? Or, alternatively: Even if the fragment were proved beyond a doubt to be authentic, could one small piece of papyrus really be so important as to fundamentally change our understanding of the past? The problem with reconstructing the distant past is that with so little evidence available, the discovery of even the tiniest pieces can lead to outsize ramifications. It’s a situation ripe for abuse. The more sensationally these sorts of discoveries are reported, the more such abuse we can expect.
Incidentally, quite a few specialists now think that the Secret Gospel of Mark may be an authentic ancient text (see, e.g., here, here, and links), even though not so many years ago the case for it being a forgery seemed just about closed. So you never know.

Background on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is here, with links going back to the announcement of its discovery.