Monday, September 24, 2012

So-Called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" A Forgery?

According to Francis Watson, biblical scholar at Durham University, the recently disclosed Coptic fragment, now called "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife," is in all likelihood a modern forgery, based on its correspondences with The Gospel of Thomas. See Watson's essay here.

This is, of course, not making quite so many headlines.

On Mark Goodacre's blog some comments from Richard Bauckham (formerly of St. Andrews) are of note. He finds Watson's argument "very convincing":

It is of course quite possible that an ancient writer could have produced the text by this process of compilation from the Gospel of Thomas.... But what Watson's argument shows is how easy it would have been for a modern forger to produce this text. In my mind that combines with the other reasons for thinking this papyrus text is very suspicious, viz., the "Zeitgeist" and "too good to be true".... It is just too good to be true that this tiny fragment happens to preserve the words in which Jesus says "my wife" and thereby feeds into all the popular feeling about Jesus and Mary Magdalene that has been swirling around since at least the Da Vinci Code. The massive coverage of this new fragment in the press and on the internet is itself evidence for the "Zeitgeist" and "too good to be true" criteria for inauthenticity. Of course, we're only dealing in improbabilities. History being what it is, extraordinarily improbable coincidences do happen.
Bauckham also makes an observation of note about the dating of the text:

It occurs to me we've missed something that Watson's argument really does demonstrate: that the text of this fragment (whether ancient or modern) was composed in Coptic, not translated from Greek. The Nag Hammadi Gospels and related texts were translated from Greek. So this is at best a late, not an early 'Gnostic" text, dependent on the Coptic version of Thomas. Not, therefore late 2nd century, as Karen King suggests. 

No comments:

Post a Comment