Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More doubts surface on the Jesus Wife Fragment

Live Science has been doing some digging in connection with the story associated with the Jesus Wife Fragment and this interesting article was published today:

'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text
By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

I'm impressed that Live Science has followed leads actually to investigate the back story to the alleged discovery.  Given the owner's apparent insistence on anonymity, and given Harvard's apparent reluctance (so far at least) to publish the documents that are associated with the  fragment, one of the only avenues available in tracing the fragment's back story is to investigate the names associated with it.  The Live Science article centres on the most mysterious of the three, Hans-Ulrich Laukamp.  This is the crucial passage in the article, but it's all worth reading:
Our findings indicate that Laukamp was a co-owner of the now-defunct ACMB-American Corporation for Milling and Boreworks in Venice, Fla. Documents filed in Sarasota County, Fla., show that Laukamp was based in Germany at the time of his death in 2002 and that a man named RenĂ© Ernest was named as the representative of his estate in Sarasota County. 
In an exchange of emails in German, Ernest said that Laukamp did not collect antiquities, did not own this papyrus and, in fact, was living in West Berlin in 1963, so he couldn't have crossed the Berlin Wall into Potsdam. Laukamp, he said, was a toolmaker and had no interest in old things. In fact, Ernest was astonished to hear that Laukamp's name had been linked to this papyrus . . . .
Read the whole article here.

Update (10.18pm): Alin Suciu makes the good point that Laukamp would not have had trouble, if he had West German papers, in travelling to East Germany, so it may be that this aspect of the story requires revision.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Karen King is interviewed about the Jesus Wife Fragment

As far as I am aware, Prof. Karen King has not been interviewed about the Jesus Wife Fragment in public since the story first broke in September 2012.  But now WGBH has interviewed Prof. King about the fragment (broadcast yesterday).  I am delighted that Prof. King is now discussing this in public, something that will definitely contribute to the broader discussion about the fragment:

The interview is typical of the grace and clarity with which Prof. King approaches this subject as well as all her scholarship.  Although I am inclined to disagree with her on the subject matter, I, for one, am delighted that the dialogue genuinely appears to have opened up.

HT: Mike Grondin on the Gospel of Thomas e-list.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jesus' Wife Fragment Latest: Leo Depuydt responds to Karen King

It's now almost a week since Harvard Theological Review published its issue focusing on the Jesus' Wife Fragment (The Jesus' Wife Fragment is Back).  I have enjoyed spending time reading and studying the issue over the last week and I am planning to offer some of my responses to it in due course.

Francis Watson composed an initial response last week, Jesus' Wife Attempts a Comeback: Initial Response, and I would also draw attention to Christian Askeland's helpful comments, Jesus' Wife Resurrected from the Dead, alongside his fascinating post drawing attention to an element in Leo Depuydt's article, Demotic Gospel of Thomas.

Leo Depuydt's article in HTR is entitled The Alleged Gospel of Jesus's Wife: Assessment and Evaluation of Authenticity, and it is followed by a response from Karen King.

Depuydt has now responded to Karen King's article, and I am happy to post that response here, with his permission:

Leo Depuydt

Update (Thursday, 8.50am): Jim Davila criticizes the sarcastic tone of Depuydt's response on Paleojudaica, concluding with the comment "I am still quite skeptical that the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is an ancient artifact, but King has made a real effort to keep the tone high and the skeptics should do the same."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Jesus Mysteries, National Geographic Channel

Mary Magdalene (Alice Marshall), The Jesus Mysteries
(Juniper TV; National Geographic)
This weekend, National Geographic Channel are showing a two hour documentary entitled The Jesus Mysteries.  It is written and directed by David Caldwell Evans for Juniper TV and it is being shown internationally, including Australia (Friday 18th), the UK (Easter Day, 20th; Radio Times), Sub-Saharan Africa (Easter Day, 20th), and the USA (Saturday, 19th).  Here's the series blurb:

Jesus Christ is one of the most famous names in the history of mankind. But Gospel writers left out crucial details about pivotal events in Christ's life - historical moments that have been adapted, embellished and rewritten over the course of hundreds of years. This special re-examines elements of Christ's life and ministry, such as the nativity, the miracles and the crucifixion - questioning basic modern assumptions to reveal some surprising and often shocking details.

There are a couple of clips available.  The first focuses on "Rabble Rousing" and discusses the temple incident and features Bart Ehrman, Helen Bond, Larry Hurtado and me:

The second discusses Mary Magdalene, "Prostitute or Disciple", and features Kate Cooper and Helen Bond, alongside Alice Marshall as Mary Magdalene:

I was interviewed for this in July in St Andrews, Scotland, just before Helen Bond was interviewed too.  Although I have not seen it yet, I like the look of the mix of drama and CGI reconstructions with scholars' interviews.  And the handsome Jesus figure is played by Nick Simmons, son of Gene Simmons from the legendary rock band Kiss.  Here he is in the boat with Joseph of Arimathea:

Nick Simmons as Jesus in The Jesus Mysteries, National Geographic

This and other photographs suggest that there will be some idiosyncratic elements covered, including legends like Jesus in England.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jesus' Wife Attempts a Comeback: Initial Response, Francis Watson

I am grateful to Prof. Francis Watson, Research Chair of Biblical Interpretation, Durham University, for permission to post here his initial response to the recent re-emergence of discussion on the Jesus' Wife Fragment (see The Jesus' Wife Fragment is Back):

Jesus' Wife Attempts a Comeback: Initial Response
Francis Watson

Earlier pieces by Prof. Watson on the fragment are gathered here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Jesus' Wife Fragment is Back

Regular readers of the NT Blog will know of my interest in the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife and after several months without news, a whole raft of news, features, interviews and -- most importantly -- articles in the Harvard Theological Review, all emerged today.  The media reaction to the news is often predictably over-simplified and over-stated, but the key resources for study are the following:

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife 2014 Update

Here, Harvard Divinity School provide a major update and revision of their earlier (September 2012) website on the fragment, with a new press release, an introduction, a revised Q & A, new digital photographs and scientific reports. Much of this is new material and repays careful reading.

The Harvard Magazine also has an article today:

The Jesus Wife Fragment: The Scientific Evidence

Most important, though, is the latest edition of HTR, which is dominated by materials on the fragment:

Harvard Theological Review

There are several articles on the fragment, including a massively revised version of Karen King's “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . .'”: A New Coptic Papyrus Fragment, several scientific analyses of the papyrus and ink, a paleographical discussion by Malcolm Choat, an article arguing for forgery by Leo Depuydt, and a brief rejoinder from Karen King.

Media coverage has included pieces in the Boston Globe and the New York Times.

There has already been some strong discussion of the latest news in the blogs.  I would particularly recommend the pieces by Jim Davila, Larry Hurtado, Christopher Rollston and Bob Cargill, as well as the typically helpful round-up from James McGrath.

I have been in meetings all day, and at an enjoyable dinner for a retiring colleague this evening, so I have not had time to analyze the fresh evidence with the kind of care necessary to blog about it today, so I will wait until I have a moment to make some observations.  I have now had the chance to read almost everything, but I need to take some time to digest everything properly before adding my own additional comments.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Latest Journal for the Study of the New Testament - all about Gathercole and Goodacre

The latest Journal for the Study of the New Testament is now out and it's a special edition focused on Simon Gathercole's The Composition of the Gospel of Thomas and my Thomas and the Gospels. It's an absolute privilege to be involved in a journal issue like this, and I'd like to thank JSNT and its editor Catrin Williams for this honour.

Journal for the Study of the New Testament: 36/3 (March 2014)

"A New Synoptic Problem: Mark Goodacre and Simon Gathercole on Thomas" (199-239)
 John S. Kloppenborg

"A New Gnosticism: Why Simon Gathercole and Mark Goodacre on the Gospel of Thomas Change the Field" (240-50)
Nicola Denzey Lewis

"Twice More? Thomas and the Synoptics: A Reply to Simon Gathercole, The Composition of the Gospel of Thomas, and Mark Goodacre, Thomas and the Gospels" (251-61)
Stephen J. Patterson

"Thomas Revisited: A Rejoinder to Denzey Lewis, Kloppenborg and Patterson"
Simon Gathercole (262-81)

"Did Thomas Know the Synoptic Gospels? A Response to Denzey Lewis, Kloppenborg and Patterson" (282-92)
Mark Goodacre