Publication of the ‘Jesus’ Wife Fragment’ Is Delayed Again…

Probably, as Bob Cargill so elegantly put it, because ‘it’s still a forgery’.

Harvard’s divinity school says research purportedly showing some early Christians believed Jesus was married likely won’t be published by its scholarly journal next month, as originally announced. A spokesman says that tests aren’t completed to authenticate a papyrus fragment contain Coptic text, in which Jesus is quoted using the words ‘‘my wife.’’ The spokesman said Monday he didn’t know when the tests would be done. In September, Harvard said Professor Karen King’s research would be published in January’s Harvard Theological Review, the divinity school’s quarterly, peer-reviewed journal. But the journal’s co-editors later said they’d committed to January publication only pending further verification of the fragment, including scientific dating. King announced the research in Rome in September. But several scholars immediately expressed doubts. The Smithsonian Channel later delayed broadcasting a documentary on the fragment, pending the further testing.

My guess is that slowly but surely Harvard will let the story die of its own accord.  Given the attention spans of most, I’d say it already would have if they would stop attempting to excuse the ever-future publication date with tales of incomplete tests.

The thing will never be proven authentic for one simple reason: it isn’t.  Or, again, in Cargill’s phrase, ‘It’s still a forgery’.  No tests can change that.  Even the Smithsonian Channel has doubts and it will air anything about the bible and archaeology and early Christianity no matter how ridiculous or bogus.

And Now The Motive For the Announcement of the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Fragment May Be Coming to Light

The AP reports

Ancient papyrus fragments have been frequently cut up by unscrupulous dealers seeking to make more money.  An anonymous collector brought King the fragment in December 2011, seeking her help in translating and understanding it. In March, she brought it to two papyrologists who determined it was very likely authentic.  On Tuesday, Harvard Divinity School announced the finding to great fanfare and said King’s paper would be published in January’s Harvard Theological Review. Harvard said the fragment most likely came from Egypt, and that its earliest documentation is from the early 1980s indicating that a now-deceased professor in Germany thought it evidence of a possible marriage of Jesus.

More importantly

Some archaeologists were quick to question Harvard’s ethics, noting that the fragment has no known provenance, or history of where it’s been, and that its owner may have a financial interest in the publicity being generated about it.

Exactly what I’ve maintained since the start.

King has said the owner wants to sell his collection to Harvard.

AhHA!  There it is.

“There are all sorts of really dodgy things about this,” said David Gill, professor of archaeological heritage at University Campus Suffolk and author of the Looting Matters blog, which closely follows the illicit trade in antiquities. “This looks to me as if any sensible, responsible academic would keep their distance from it.”  He cited the ongoing debate in academia over publishing articles about possibly dubiously obtained antiquities, thus potentially fueling the illicit market. He questioned, for example, whether the letter from the German Egyptologist was authentic, and whether Harvard should have contacted Egyptian authorities about the find.

I don’t know Prof. Gill but he’s clearly a man of sense.