The evidence now suggests that the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” is almost certainly a fake.
Not long ago I offered some thoughts on the alleged discovery of a previously unknown Gospel, referring to Jesus’ wife. It is a very brief fragment, but it bears similarities to already known Gnostic writing. Even if it was everything that Dr Karen King claimed it to be, it would still only have been a work from the fourth century that was arguably first written in the late second century, at a time when plenty of far-fetched gnostic writings were being produced. Not exactly earth shattering. However, quite a number of scholars at the time had serious doubts that this fragment was even as interesting as that, suspecting that it was nothing more than a much later forgery, written to look like an earlier gnostic work but in fact simply plagiarising the Gospel of Thomas.
Those suspicions have now been resoundingly confirmed: the fragment is almost certainly a fake. I say “almost certainly” because of course it’s nigh-on impossible sometimes to prove such things with 100% certainty, but we now have about as much certainty as anyone could hope for. Not only does the alleged Gospel fragment strongly resemble the Gospel of Thomas in terms of language and content (however brief), but it contains an unusual typo – the very same typo that an online version of the Gospel of Thomas contained. For more detail, see the analysis over at Mark Goodacre’s NT Blog.
What is especially interesting is that Mike Grondin, who produced the online interlinear translation of the Gospel of Thomas, chimes into the conversation himself, adding:
Having consulted my records, I am now quite sure that anyone copying the mistake at line 50.01 of the pdf version of my interlinear must have done so no earlier than 11 Nov 2002. Prior to that, my website contained a set of gif images, wherein line 50.01 was correct.
Not only can we identify that the composer of this fragment used the Gospel of Thomas, but it appears that we can actually identify exactly which copy they used – a smoking gun that would often be impossible to discover. This is looking like a very recent forgery indeed. Conveniently, it appears to have been carried out just late enough so that anyone who had allegedly known of the document previously is no longer alive. Little would have been established had the document not been a fake, let’s remember. But it very probably is.
- The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?
- I believe because it is absurd – Was Tertullian a fideist?
- Agreeing with Bertrand Russell
- The Shroud of Turin: What’s your take?
- Episode 021: Sexing up Early Church History