Sunday, April 13, 2014

People Who Doubt The Authenticity Of The Gospel Of Jesus' Wife Seem To Be Grasping At Straws

(Before I begin here, let me try to be as clear as possible: "authenticity" means that the famous postcard-sized piece of papyrus containing the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife is ancient, that is: more than 1000 years old, and perhaps over 1600 years old, and not a 19th-or 20th-century forgery. No serious academics are saying that this text records the actual words of Jesus, talking about his wife. None of them are saying this proves that Jesus was married. What Prof King has said all along, consistently, is that this document may perhaps show that one group of early Christians thought of Jesus as having been married. It's a real shame that so many people are somehow managing not to hear her.)

Professor Karen L King, who came under heavy criticism in 2012 when she presented the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife to the public in 2012, when critics said it was a modern forgery, and not a 4th-century Coptic translation of a 2nd-century Greek text, seems to have been at least partially vindicated.

But some experts are still skeptical:

"Brown University Egyptology professor Leo Depuydt [...] points to grammatical mistakes that he says a native Coptic writer would not make"

If Depuydt is right about that: so what? King says this is a 4th-century translation of a 2nd-century Greek text. There's no reason why a native speaker of Greek in the 4th century couldn't have translated something into Coptic, making mistakes no native Coptic speaker would have made. Ideally translations are made by native speakers of the language being translated into. Ideally, but certainly not always, as countless people of many different natives languages have discovered when they've had great difficulty trying to decipher texts in their own native languages in owner's manuals for appliances.

Depuydt says, "the text … is a patchwork of words and phrases from the [...] Coptic Gospel of Thomas."

And again I say: if Depuydt is right, so what? A 4th-century translator could've been familiar with the Gospel of Thomas, which was not officially condemned by the Orthodox authorities until the 4th century. If his or her native language was Greek, it would be only natural for him or her to depend on words and phrases which he or she knew from a Coptic text, such as, for example, the Gospel of Thomas.

Depuydt is not convincing me at all that the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is a modern forgery. If this is the best that the skeptics have, then I say, forget 'em, and consider the artifact to be authentic. (And forgive me for being a broken record, but please be sure you understand what is meant here by "authentic," as explained in italics and bold print at the beginning of this blog post.)

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