Just in case you hadn’t seen it, this past Friday Mark Goodacre allowed a guest post (and a Saturday recap) by Andrew Bernhard over at the NT Blog. Bernhard’s posts are dedicated to demonstrating, quite convincingly in my opinion, that the poorly-named Gospel of Jesus’ Wife is a “patchwork forgery” drawn from an earlier version of Mike Grondin’s widely used, online interlinear translation of the Gospel of Thomas. If there was doubt before about whether GJW could be authentic, I think all doubt will be removed after you have read Bernhard’s evidence.
Here’s a video of Simon Gathercole that’s been making the rounds on the interwebs today. Here Simon discusses the enigmatic text that was released to the public to great fanfare back in 2012. The consensus position among scholars still seems to be that this is a modern forgery on an ancient piece of papyrus. This video is apparently circulating in support of the most recent fascicle of New Testament Studies, which is devoted solely to discussing the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Mark Goodacre, who has been one of the major players in the web-based discussion about the authenticity of this fragment, provides an overview of the recent NTS here.
Both the New York Times and the Boston Globe are reporting that the Coptic papyrus fragment deemed, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is more likely to be ancient than a modern forgery. This decision is based upon recent tests conducted on the fragment. When the fragment was initially unveiled in September 2012, there was a firestorm of controversy over whether it was ancient or represented a modern attempt at forgery. Among the more prominent scholars to weigh in and suggest the document was a forgery were Francis Watson (see here and here) and Mark Goodacre (see here).
I think it’s important to note that, even if the document is ancient, it likely hails from the 8th century CE and has very little relevance for discussions of the historical Jesus (though it may tell us something about the controversies and conversations taking place within Christian circles during that period). It’s also important to point out that even though the fragment has been deemed *ancient*, it may still be an ancient forgery.
Last night Mark Goodacre posted further comments about material from the Gospel of Thomas that exists in the newly disseminated fragment known as The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. This topic has been explored in great detail over the past few week. When the fragment was first made public, several of us noticed that portions of Gos. Thom. 101 and 114 seemed to be present. Then Francis Watson wrote an essay in which he suggested that the fragment is a patchwork of material taken from different portions of the Gospel of Thomas. In this most recent post, Mark notices that one line of the fragment is taken from Gos. Thom. 30. This is a characteristically good find by Mark (is anyone surprised?). Mark concludes:
I would like to suggest, then, that Francis Watson is bang on the money in finding the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife to be a patchwork of pieces from the Gospel of Thomas, and to offer this suggestion as extending and so confirming his excellent case.
Based upon all I have read to this point, I think Goodacre and Watson have made the most compelling argument about the origin of the document.