By Craig A. Evans
[Note from Brian LePort: I received an email from Craig A. Evans saying that the Harvard Theological Review (HTR) has decided against publishing Karen King’s paper on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. He wrote, “After the analyses of Francis Watson, Mark Goodacre, Gesine Robinson, and others, I think forgery is virtually a certainty.” I responded asking if it is becoming a consensus that it is a “modern” forgery and the below post (which he said I could share) is his response. Also, I should add that he did not provide his source, so I’ve sent him a follow-up email asking where he heard the news regarding HTR’s decision. Update: The source appears to be an email from Gesine Robinson whose source is Helmut Koester. ]
Is the Coptic papyrus, in which Jesus speaks of his “wife,” a fake? Probably. We are far from a “consensus,” but one scholar after another and one Coptologist after another has weighed in pointing out serious problems with the paleography, the syntax, and the very troubling fact that almost all of the text has been extracted from the Gospel of Thomas (principally from logia 30, 101, and 114). I suspect the papyrus itself is probably quite old, perhaps fourth or fifth century, but the oddly written (or painted) letters on the recto side are probably modern and probably reflect recent interest in Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The decision of the editors of Harvard Theological Review not to publish Karen King’s paper is very wise. Perhaps we will eventually learn more about who actually produced this text.