Earlier this week, I mentioned that the news of the fragment known as Gospel of Jesus’s Wife will end “quite possibly with the revelation that the fragment was a forgery in the first place.”
My rationale for this suspicion was and is insufficient to advance any sort of argument. I am no expert in Coptic paleography. However, when assisting with research at a Bible museum, I have studied third- and fourth-century fragments in Greek. And, while writing Misquoting Truth, I spent months poring over high-resolution scans of ancient fragments and codices.
Compared to these many papyri, the ink on Gospel of Jesus’s Wife strikes me as having an odd, washed-out quality and breadth that I have never seen in any authentic fragment or codex. The scholar presenting Gospel of Jesus’s Wife attributed this pattern to a scribe with a dull quill. Yet it seems there ought to be other manuscripts and fragments that exhibit this phenomenon—and perhaps there are some that I simply haven’t seen, and maybe this has more to do with the photographs of Gospel of Jesus’s Wife than with the fragment itself. Still, it didn’t look right to me, and it still doesn’t—but this oddity is far from sufficient to question the fragment’s authenticity.
Most significant in this paper is that the line “cannot be my disciple” in Gospel of Jesus’s Wife begins halfway through a word in precisely the same place that the same word is broken in the single surviving manuscript of Gospel of Thomas. This pattern strongly suggests that a forger was been working from a modern printing of the extant text of Gospel of Thomas.
Read Watson’s paper here.