Rumor: Harvard Theological Review Divorces “Jesus’s Wife” UPDATE: Or do they?

I was waiting for something more official, but the word is that the Harvard Theological Review has decided against publishing Karen King’s paper on the “Jesus’s Wife” fragment. It’s still just rumors, but the source of the story appears to be the NT Scholar Helmut Koester, and it’s percolated through enough sites without outright denials to suggest that it’s true. On Brian LePort’s page, Craig A. Evans says this:

After the analyses of Francis Watson, Mark Goodacre, Gesine Robinson, and others, I think forgery is virtually a certainty.

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.

More from Brian LaPort:

 Daniel Burke of Religion News Service says that Harvard Divinity School spokesperson Jonathan Beasley is more hesitant regarding the report that the Harvard Theological Journal will not publish Karen L. King’s paper on the subject, writing:

“Dr. King’s ‘marriage fragment’ paper, which Harvard Theological Review is planning to publish in its January, 2013, edition – if testing of the ink and other aspects of the fragment are completed in time – will include her responses to the vigorous and appropriate academic debate engendered by discovery of the fragment, as well as her report on the ink analysis, and further examination of the fragment.”

There’s wiggle room in there to go either way.

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Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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