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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Christian Askeland, "Jesus had an ugly sister-in-law"

On the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog

See also Alin Suciu

And this email from Leo Depuydt

There has been a new development today in the affaire of the Wife of Jesus Fragment. I refer for the relevant facts to Christian Askeland's blog at:
I now contact myself all those who have contacted me. Please feel to share this with any and all. All I say and write is quotable.
Professor King has changed her story so often that I feel that she should be allowed one more change: A change to a total and unconditional (and, if sincere, tearful) recantation.
What has just happened? I summarize for a wider audience.
One reason that so many people have been fooled by the Wife of Jesus Fragment is that it was offered for sale along with a papyrus fragment containing excerpts from the Gospel of John. Now, the Gospel of John is the best preserved ancient Coptic text by far. Its presence lent WJF an aura of credibility. But no one ever looked at the John fragment because it was not accessible. It has now become accessible in the past two weeks and some people had a look. It has now just recently been established (for detailed credits, see Christian's blog) that it is 100% certain that this fragment is a fake. No doubt about it. Why so?
The Coptic fragment of John is in the Subakhmimic dialect of Coptic. Most preserved ancient Coptic is in the Sahidic dialect of Coptic. It so happens that a reasonably well preserved papyrus codex containing the Gospel of John was published by Sir Herbert Thompson in 1924. I am looking at it. There are nice pictures of all the pages located strategically facing page by facing page next to the modern transcription. It is 100% certain that the Coptic fragment of John offered for sale along with WJF is copied from the Thompson codex. All the line beginnings are the same, except that the forger made two lines into one or the like. I too checked it. This cannot be coincidence. Earlier, Dr. Choat and Dr. Schwendner had established that the fragment of John and WJF are apparently written by the same person, by the same pen, and by the same ink. Dr. Askeland then established the critical link to Thompson's John. This afternoon, Alin Suciu writes me and others to the effect that Subakhmimic _abal_ "out of" has been replaced by Sahidic _ebol_ "out of". This is, once again, a grammatical blunder. For a detailed statement of credits, I refer again to Christian's site. I do not want to misrepresent anyone's contributions.
If the fragment from John (which seems so very much more believable than WJF) is now 100% certainly a fake, then how could WJF, written by the very same person, possibly not be?
To me, all this is just a confirmation of what I thought two minutes after I first saw WJF when a bright and cheerful Brown student referred me to the link (I really have to tell my professor about this) in September 2012 and when I immediately wrote back to her : "It stinks!"
When is this papyrological pantomime, this Keystone Coptic, this academic farce, this philological burlesque finally going to stop? Is this academic misconduct or is this not academic misconduct?
The design of my report was to keep this out of HTR so that none of this would ever see the light of day and I could not make it work. I was in fact appointed to Harvard at the time to work with graduate students. My own efforts were reciprocated more recently by an effort on the part of K.K. to delay my report (and, I suspect, find another pretext to keep it out). Happily, that did not work either.
The Wikipedia site does not give a peep about opinions challenging the authenticity of WJF. Perhaps this means that the identities of all the people to whom I now write and others in addition involved will be wiped off the face of the earth. Brace yourselves. You may be tainted.
If you have still questions or for background, please feel to contact Christian or others mentioned on Christian's blog and related blogs or also myself.
Yesterday, there was also the development pertaining to the identity of H.-U. Lauman, a presumed owner of WJF (see report by Own Jarus at www.livescience.com).
Thanks for your attention and best wishes.
Leo Depuydt

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