Thursday, September 20, 2012

More reason to doubt "the Jesus's Wife" fragment

Larry Hurtado has provided a link to this blog post by Dirk Jongkind which suggests that "the Gospel of Jesus's Wife" fragment has indeed been tampered with:

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that the fragment is genuine. And let's assume that originally it was written somewhere in Egypt before the eighth century. Then we are still faced with a massive issue. Why does the fragment look so neatly rectangular?

The answer given by Roger Bagnall in the NYT is the following:

"The piece is torn into a rough rectangle, so that the document is missing its adjoining text on the left, right, top and bottom — most likely the work of a dealer who divided up a larger piece to maximize his profit, Dr. Bagnall said."...

So clearly, Bagnall thinks that current shape of the fragment is modern, and that it was deliberately forced into its current shape 'to maximize profit'.

Is it too far-fetched to suggest that the lamentable loss of the words immediately following the famed words 'My wife' might not have been accidental, but perhaps made in order 'to maximize profit'?...

Here we have a fragment which has been deliberately altered, 'most likely' by a modern dealer seeking to maximize profit, who gets rid of 'something'. And this 'something' might well be in the same league as the oil refinery – it might be a spoiler that affected the value of this fragment negatively. The fragment may have been torn in the shape it is now in order to coax the reader into a certain interpretation.

Whatever the reason, that even supporters of authenticity of the fragment such as Bagnall believe that there has been modern interference with this manuscript, should give some reason to pause and think again.

Hurtado says "This is just the sort of testing of scholarly claims that characterizes good scholarly discussion.... Dirk does raise an interesting point about the curious shape and dimensions of the fragment, and that all agree that it has this shape and size likely because someone (in the current scene) shaped it."

No comments:

Post a Comment