Friday, September 21, 2012

a verdict is in

Mark Goodacre has published a short paper by Francis Watson, entitled "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife: How a Fake Gospel-Fragment was Composed." This will almost certainly not make the Huffington Post or the New York Times; it certainly won't be the subject of a special by the Smithsonian. So even my [*ahem*] judicious assessment that we might genuinely have "a new text that gives us a frustratingly brief glimpse of what some people in the (second? or) third century were saying about Jesus" appears to have been too naïve. All we have really have, in fact, is another forger's attempt at fame and/or riches, a scholar's frustrated attempt to publish something genuinely new and unprecedented, and a Jesus who went stag to a wedding in Cana.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity—the schedule

On The Jesus Blog Anthony Le Donne and Chris Keith have published the schedule for the up-coming Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity conference in Dayton, OH (4–5 October 2012). If you've been meaning to register for the meeting but have been putting it off (or didn't know where to do so), click here for the conference website ($70 registration; $10 lunch).

If you're coming, don't forget to purchase a copy of the volume, don't forget to purchase a copy of the book, Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity (T&T Clark International, 2012). If you can't make the conference, then buy two copies!!

The Gospel of Jesus' Wife

Two days ago the news "broke" that a fourth-century CE (300s) Coptic papyrus fragment suggests Jesus might have been married and—perhaps this is the part that's news; I can't tell—referred to her in public. Karen King (Harvard University) has provided a lovely and very helpful and interesting webpage with pictures of the text, a transcription (for those of you with Coptic skills) and translation, a Q&A, and a pre-publication version of an article on this "new Gospel." The news story here—and there is one—is that we now have, apparently a new text that gives us a frustratingly brief glimpse of what some people in the (second? or) third century were saying about Jesus. That's a big deal, but it doesn't add to or change anything we know about Jesus himself.

Those of us in this business get a bit tired of how stories like this get reported in the media. Quite honestly, who cares if Jesus was married? Where's the scandal in a first-century Galilean Jewish man taking a wife? So he's the son of God . . . where is it written that the human son of God had to be single or celibate? So the NT refers to the church as the bride of Christ . . . um, isn't that clearly a metaphor? So where's the scandal? Here it is: Our entire lives we've been told that Jesus was unmarried because no historical source with a claim to know such things mentions his wife. Moreover, those sources had no reason to hide it if he had been married! There's no embarrassment whatsoever that one of the two most well-known apostles—Simon Peter—was married (Mark 1.29–31; 1 Cor. 9.5), and had the historical Jesus had a sign on his mailbox, "Jesus and Mary Christ," I very much doubt that anyone in the earliest decades of the church would have cared. And if any of our Gospels—again, which had no reason to hide such things—suggested Jesus had a wife, then we today would live in a world where Jesus' wife would merit no more news space than Martha Washington (y'all knew George was married, right?).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coptic question

I know I'm supposed to be blogging about Jesus' wife. I'll try to get to that later today. But for now, can any of you access or guide me toward the Middle Egyptian Coptic reading of Acts 13.34? Theodore Petersen offers the following translation of vv. 33–34
. . . this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I will give thee the gentiles for they inheritance and for they possessions the ends of the earth. (And to show that) he has raised him up from the dead in such a way as never again to return to decay, that all the people may know and do penance (he has said thus) this namely is the way which is written in Isaias the prophet, I will give you the holy and everlasting covenant and sure (promises) mercies of David. (Theodore C. Petersen, "An Early Coptic Manuscript of Acts: An Unrevised Version of the Ancient So-called Western Text," CBQ 26/2 [1964], 240)

The italicized phrases represent the Coptic additions over the critical Greek text. But I'm especially interested in the italicized and bold phrase, "everlasting covenant." Any help?

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