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Is the Gospel of Jesus's Wife a forgery?


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It sure looks that way.

How the 'Jesus' Wife' Hoax Fell Apart
The media loved the 2012 tale from Harvard Divinity School.

Jerry Pattengale
May 1, 2014 7:17 p.m. ET

"Two factors immediately indicated that this was a forgery," Mr. Askeland tells me. "First, the fragment shared the same line breaks as the 1924 publication. Second, the fragment contained a peculiar dialect of Coptic called Lycopolitan, which fell out of use during or before the sixth century." Ms. King had done two radiometric tests, he noted, and "concluded that the papyrus plants used for this fragment had been harvested in the seventh to ninth centuries." In other words, the fragment that came from the same material as the "Jesus' wife" fragment was written in a dialect that didn't exist when the papyrus it appears on was made.


Lycopolitan (also known as Subakhmimic and Assiutic) is a closely related dialect to Akhmimic in terms of when and where it was attested, though manuscripts written in it tend to be from the area of Asyut. The main differences between the two dialects seem to be only graphic in nature, though Lycopolitan was used extensively for translations of gnostic and Manichaean works, including the Nag Hammadi library texts.

The forgery of the Lycopolitan gospel of John

by Christian Askeland

seventeen of seventeen line breaks are the same. This defies coincidence.

Alin Suciu first announced the relevance of Sahidic for Lycopolitan. The Sahidic spelling is not possible given the extant dialectal orthography which, for example, otherwise consistently has the Lycopolitan Alpha in lieu of the distinctly Sahidic Omicron.

I note here that the omitted results in total nonsense.

Likewise, the one instance where the forger has not copied every second line (verso, ll. 7–8), is an instance in which the intermediary text is a secure stock phrase "they were saying that". The presence of additional text here is impossible.

The forger erred when he turned from page eight of Thompson's PDF to page nine, having also passed plate 25/26.

Naturally, the fact that we are seeing Lycopolitan in a fragment radiometrically dated to the seventh to ninth centuries is a huge problem.

The minor dialects (Achmimic, Lycopolitan and Middle Egyptian) are not present in the extensive documentary tradition from the sixth to eighth centuries.



Unless compelling counter-arguments arise, both this fragment and the Gospel of Jesus Wife fragment should now be considered forgeries beyond any doubt. Furthermore, the inauthenticity of the present fragment draws into question the broader group of documentation surrounding the Gospel of Jesus Wife which the owner provided to Karen King (contract of sale, typed note from Munro, handwritten note). This was already problematic, as the bill of sale is dated to 1999, three years before Grondin's GThomas PDF was available online.


New clues cast doubt on 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife'

Opinion by Joel S. Baden and Candida R. Moss, special to CNN

The text of the Jesus’ wife fragment is remarkably close to published editions, available online, of another Coptic Christian text, called the “Gospel of Thomas.”

So close, in fact, that one of the typographical errors in an online edition of the “Gospel of Thomas” is replicated, uniquely, in the Jesus’ wife fragment.

What are the chances of that?

Yet some would say that the fact that there is considerable overlap with the wording of the “Gospel of Thomas” isn’t a problem: Christian authors regularly copied word-for-word from other texts.

The canonical Gospels of Matthew and Luke, for example, reproduce much of the Gospel of Mark, with only slight alterations. And the vocabulary used in the papyrus is remarkably common.


Former Tyndale House resident Christian Askeland finds the 'smoking gun' in the Case of the Coptic Fragment.

Askeland: Professor King's recent seven-article resuscitation attempt has certainly been accompanied by something of a frenzy, both within the scholarly world and in the media. However, the radiometric dating actually falsified King's paleographic dating. The Raman spectroscopy told us what we already knew, that the ink used was soot ink, an ink which is rather easy to make and use today; and the palaeographic analysis could find no clear parallel for the scribal hand.


How to Make Black Ink From Ancient Times

By Patti Perry, eHow Contributor

"The pigment in iron gall ink does not completely form until it is exposed to air and the ink is transparent until it is put on parchment or paper. It then darkens and becomes permanent," states a PBS Nova program about pigments and plant-based dyes. Ink has three primary ingredients: the pigment, the binder and the carrier. These ingredients manipulate the color and durability of the ink. Soot is sometimes added to darken ink and make it more visible. Too much acidity from tannic acid may cause ink to become corrosive and damage parchment or paper.



Is it possible to burn a piece of another fragment from the same papyrus and use the soot ink then just dilute it with water to the ink to make it look light and faded then design and use a brush or reed pen that is likely to be used in the past?


“Jesus’ Wife” Articles in HTR: Initial Thoughts


Choat also notes the curious nature of the hand and the way the ink was applied to the item. He judges the hand to be that of a copyist of very limited abilities (noting, e.g., the irregularities in letter-formation), and that the writer seems to have used a brush (anomalous for the putative period in question) or (as Bagnall suggested) a poorly trimmed reed-pen. As King now grants, the nature of the hand (and other factors) make it unlikely that the fragment comes from a codex and unlikely that the text functioned as a “gospel” liturgically. Instead, as she notes, it may be some kind of school exercise or perhaps even some kind of amulet-type item. So, can we all please desist from references to a “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”? There is no reason to suppose that the fragment comes from any such text. We have a “Jesus’ Wife” fragment. Let’s stay with what we have/know.



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