Friday, September 21, 2012

Hurtado: more thoughts on the “wife” fragment:

That the fragment may derive from a larger text is a reasonable possibility, but an inference, not a datum. That this larger text might have been some sort of “Jesus book” (my term, which I really do commend over “gospel”, which is used so widely that it has no generic content other than a book about Jesus, so why not “Jesus book”?) is also plausible, though again an inference, and not the only plausible one. (It could derive, e.g., from a sermon, a treatise of some sort, or something else.)

Whatever that larger text, it’s unlikely that it was wholly given over to Jesus’ marital status. So, it’s a bit misleading to refer to a supposed “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”. It’s just not helpful. It plays to the news media, but it’s close to being chaff.

As part of this blogpost, he also links to this interview with Simon Gathercole, who analyzes the text a bit and comes to this conclusion:

Harvard Professor Karen King, who is the person who has been entrusted with the text, has rightly warned us that this does not say anything about the historical Jesus. She is correct that “its possible date of composition in the second half of the second century, argues against its value as evidence for the life of the historical Jesus”. But she is also right that this is a fascinating discovery which offers us a window into debates about sex and marriage in the early church, and the way Jesus could be adapted to play a part in a particular debate, but only if it is genuine.

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