That’s the verdict of Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano (the newspaper of the Vatican) and an expert on patristic philology, on the “Jesus’s Wife” frament. Coptic Scholar Alberto Camplani seconded the opinion. The statements appeared in a pair of stories in today’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano, which of course means the headlines tomorrow will be “Vatican declares Jesus was single.”
Camplani singled out something that bothered me as well: the full-court media press that accompanied the presentation of the scholarly paper. While King’s paper follows academic standards, her quotes in the media and for the Smithsonian documentary are unprofessional in the extreme. Here’s Camplani:
The news was quickly reported. In the course of the conference the scholar presented a fragment of a papyrus which bears phrases, translated from Coptic, of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples about a woman, Mary, whom he describes as “his wife” (ta-hime / ta-shime, which in Coptic corresponds to what we call “woman” or “wife”). There is nothing unusual about this for a scientific congress. However, in this case, the excessively direct link between research and journalism – that makes short shrift of the long periods required by more serious scientific discussion – had already occurred before the conference, given that the very premature news in the American press on Tuesday depended on an an interview that the Harvard academic had already given before leaving for Italy.
More: Go to Brian LePort’s page for a video presentation on the forgery by Christian Askeland and more updates. He’s been following the story very closely and has good updates.