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View Full Version : King Concedes 'Gospel Of Jesus' Wife' is Forgery After Owner Exposed as Pornographer



Adrift
06-18-2016, 06:03 PM
Crazy story! Since Karen King would not give up her source, an investigative reporter for The Atlantic took it upon himself to figure out who her source was. Turns out he's a conman and pornographer (into cuckold porn with his wife, who, incidentally, talks to angels) who had studied Egyptology, and had a "bumbling" grasp in Coptic, which is how most other scholars realized that the fragment was likely a forgery (while King herself reasoned it was the work of a novice scribe). The journalist suggests that King was a mark for a "Jesus' wife" fragment because of her feminist leanings. When asked by the journalist if she was interested in the provenance of the piece, and all of the information that he had acquired on the owner, King replied that she didn't see the point in discussing it. The piece doesn't make King look too good, but it seems like she had it coming.

Here's the original piece from The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/the-unbelievable-tale-of-jesus-wife/485573/#article-comments

Here's King's reply to the piece where she admits that she was lied to, and concedes that the fragment is likely a fake, but that she still wants to see scientific proof or a confession before taking a definitive stance (:sigh:) http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/karen-king-responds-to-the-unbelievable-tale-of-jesus-wife/487484/

Here's an article from Live Science that offers up some interesting information after the fact, as well as their own findings. http://www.livescience.com/55110-gospel-of-jesus-wife-a-fake.html

I don't know how this will end for King, and it certainly doesn't make Harvard look very good. The story is juicy enough that the Smithsonian could create a new documentary refuting their previous documentary on the subject...

Cow Poke
06-18-2016, 06:06 PM
Interesting

One Bad Pig
06-18-2016, 06:11 PM
Wow. It's about time she conceded - the consensus has been that it was conclusively proven to be a fake before the documentary even aired.

rogue06
06-18-2016, 06:13 PM
Hopefully this will put an end to this but in the day of the internet I'm sure we'll see it pop up from time to time

Adrift
06-18-2016, 06:29 PM
Personally, I would like to see some sort of charges against the forger whose name is Walter Fritz. I'm not sure if any could be made, since he only loaned the forgery to King, and hadn't made plans to sell it at that time, though there are indications that he was possibly interested in doing so, or at least, selling other forgeries with the clout he got from the Jesus's Wife fragment.

One of the most interesting and telling things about Fritz' motivations is that he believes that the Gnostic texts are earlier and more reliable than the canonical texts. Fritz also apparently despises the Catholic church, accusing a priest of abusing him as a child, though no others had made similar accusations of that priest. He and his automatic writing/spiritualist wife were apparently selling other documents out of an online gallery website that experts have also identified as forgeries. They had numerous porn sites on the side, and apparently his wife was semi-popular in the fetish scene they were into. King had no clue of all this, and thought he was just a friendly family man. Turns out that Fritz also registered the domain name www.gospelofjesuswife.com a few weeks before King announced her discovery of the fragment.

For King's part, I think she should be admonished in some way for not taking more seriously her critics during the peer-review process, and for not doing a better job obtaining provenance. Perhaps ignoring provenance is an endemic issue rather than the sole fault of King though, if that's the case, hope this is a wake up call.

Adrift
06-18-2016, 06:31 PM
Hopefully this will put an end to this but in the day of the internet I'm sure we'll see it pop up from time to time

I'm almost certain that we will continue seeing it pop up now and again, but hopefully scholars will learn from this and be more careful about discoveries. I think this is the primary reason we haven't heard much from the Green Collection and their 1st century Mark fragment. Dotting all their i's and crossing all their t's, no doubt.

One Bad Pig
06-18-2016, 06:46 PM
Here's some moreinput from the scholarly blog world (http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.de/2016/06/more-on-gospel-of-jesus-wife-and-walter.html). It appears that Fritz was quickly suspected of involvement.

Adrift
06-18-2016, 06:56 PM
Here's some moreinput from the scholarly blog world (http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.de/2016/06/more-on-gospel-of-jesus-wife-and-walter.html). It appears that Fritz was quickly suspected of involvement.

Yep. I was going to mention that article, but I think it's linked to the Live Science article. I think some of the comments are particularly insightful.

Also, for those who want more of a summary on The Atlantic article, here's a short video:

http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/487343/to-catch-a-forger/

Adrift
06-18-2016, 07:08 PM
Some of the comments from folks over at Reddit's /r/AcademicBiblical are also interesting, especially in highlighting some of King's thoughts about the whole thing:

From the first The Atlantic article,

I called Karen King later that day to ask whether we could meet. I wanted her perspective on what I’d found and was curious about how much she already knew. I wondered, too, whether any of it would color her view of the papyrus’s authenticity.

But King wasn’t interested in talking. “I haven’t engaged the provenance questions at all,” she said. What she did know, she’d already reported in her 2014 Harvard Theological Review article. “It’s all out there,” she said. “I don’t see the point of a conversation.”

I told her I’d spent months reporting in Germany and the United States. Didn’t she want to know what I’d found?

“Not particularly,” she said. She would read my piece once it was published. What interested her more were the results of new ink tests being done at Columbia.

Then in the second The Atlantic article,

Thursday afternoon, however, she called me to say the story was “fascinating” and “very helpful.”

“It tips the balance towards forgery,” she said.

“I had no idea about this guy, obviously,” she said. “He lied to me.”

“Your article has helped me see that provenance can be investigated,”

King said she would need scientific proof—or a confession—to make a definitive finding of forgery. It’s theoretically possible that the papyrus itself is authentic, she said, even if its provenance story is bogus. But the preponderance of the evidence, she said, now “presses in the direction of forgery.”

As one poster put it,


I wanted to be happy to see this, but then I read the article. I am really having trouble understanding how a serious scholar can say the things King has said.

“It tips the balance towards forgery,” she said.
I look forward to her acknowledgements that the Da Vinci Code is probably just fiction, and the Book of Mormon might not be entirely historically accurate.

But hell, I could still understand her reluctance to give up on a manuscript she had invested so much hope in. It's hard to admit you've been conned.
But then she said this...

“Your article has helped me see that provenance can be investigated,” she said.
Does anybody buy that a Harvard scholar, who has spent years investigating a manuscript, has not previously considered whether provenance can be investigated?

Juvenal
06-18-2016, 09:05 PM
As one poster put it,


[...]

But then she said this...
“Your article has helped me see that provenance can be investigated,” she said.
Does anybody buy that a Harvard scholar, who has spent years investigating a manuscript, has not previously considered whether provenance can be investigated?

Actually, I do buy that. Investigative reporting is a specialty in its own right, and the fits and starts, combing through public records, engaging sources, false leads, and dead ends described by the reporter are not the natural habitat of an academic scholar.

I remember we'd discussed this before. Does anyone remember an analysis that showed the language of the fragment was taken from some other publicly available source. I can't recall anymore, and I hope I'm not confusing this with another story, but if my recollection is correct, that was the tipping point for me.



(Oh, wildly off topic, but while I'm here and it's in my mind, I wanted to thank you for your shoes recommendation. I picked up two pair of the Cole Haan, and they made a world of difference.)

Adrift
06-18-2016, 09:33 PM
Actually, I do buy that. Investigative reporting is a specialty in its own right, and the fits and starts, combing through public records, engaging sources, false leads, and dead ends described by the reporter are not the natural habitat of an academic scholar.

A primary issue that many people have is that, by her own admission, she hadn't "engaged the provenance questions at all", and that she had no interest in learning about the provenance when asked. Be honest, if this was an Evangelical scholar like Craig Evans or Daniel Wallace, those facts, and those sorts of statements wouldn't get an eyebrow raise from you?

As a poster in another forum rightly put it, investigating provenance may not be her expertise,


...but it is absolutely part of her job when she is investigating the authenticity of a manuscript. Her paper on issue covered a lot of areas that are not within her expertise in theology but were relevant to the authenticity of the manuscript.



I remember we'd discussed this before. Does anyone remember an analysis that showed the language of the fragment was taken from some other publicly available source. I can't recall anymore, and I hope I'm not confusing this with another story, but if my recollection is correct, that was the tipping point for me.

Yep, this is the same fragment. Here's Christian Askeland's timeline from OBP's link,

Sept 2012 Karen King announces the discovery of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus. Almost immediately, Francis Watson and Simon Gathercole notice a relationship between the GJW and the Gospel of Thomas.

Nov 2012 Andrew Bernhard’s Patchwork Hypothesis proves that the GJW was copied from Grondin’s interlinear.

Apr 2014 The current blog revealed that an accompanying papyrus with the same handwriting was a forgery, calling into question the authenticity of all of the accompanying documents.

Aug 2015 With the revelation of the owner’s interlinear, Bernhard’s Patchwork hypothesis becomes irrefutable.

June 2016 Walter Fritz, a former FU-Berlin Egyptology student, claims to be the owner of the GJW.

And from Mark Goodacre's blog,

The owner’s “translation” of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife displays evidence of dependence on Grondin’s Interlinear in every line with more than one word. It includes repeated English “translations” of Coptic words not even present on the papyrus fragment itself, incorrect translations of Coptic text, and distinctive translations as well – all of which can be traced back to Grondin’s Interlinear.

I think another interesting point was made by another poster on /r/AcademicBiblical,


i think in part you have to separate Dr. King the scholar and Dr. King the theologian. She (and Harvard) in a way are forging a theology, one where Christianity is much broader and more inclusive than conservative Christian theology. as a theologian, her life work is validated by this evidence. so then she is as respectable as BYU professors when it comes to Mormonism. I think her reputation as a professor is really more on developing a palatable theology for modern (or post-modern) thinkers than as an academic with papyrus work. if you seriously consider their theology (even if they don't call it a theology anymore), must of it is not grounded in ancient history, but on how theology [of] the past can be useful in today's context.



(Oh, wildly off topic, but while I'm here and it's in my mind, I wanted to thank you for your shoes recommendation. I picked up two pair of the Cole Haan, and they made a world of difference.)

Oh good! I actually have my eyes on a new pair of just for fun boots:

http://i.imgur.com/gRrBg0G.jpg?1

I doubt very much that they'll be as comfortable as your Cole Haan's, but nearly as stylish. :tongue:

psstein
06-18-2016, 11:28 PM
I'm speaking now as a scholar and not as a Christian believer (some of you know that I'm working toward a career in Early Christianity/NT).

King's lack of engagement with critical questions such as provenance is unconscionable. If she had engaged that question and then mounted an argument for a first century fragment, that's fine. She'd then have to be judged wrong on the evidence she adduced. However, her refusal to do so shows a fundamental lack of respect for scholarly methods in favor of furthering her own agenda(s). While that's not necessarily unavoidable, it moves her work from critical scholarship into a rather distasteful form of apologetics.

Edit: to my complete and total shock (read: sarcasm) she was a member of the Jesus Seminar.

Juvenal
06-18-2016, 11:33 PM
A primary issue that many people have is that, by her own admission, she hadn't "engaged the provenance questions at all", and that she had no interest in learning about the provenance when asked. Be honest, if this was an Evangelical scholar like Craig Evans or Daniel Wallace, those facts, and those sorts of statements wouldn't get an eyebrow raise from you?

I haven't done my usual diligence on this update, so please understand my comments here are off the cuff, based only on the short video from the Atlantic. In particular, I don't know what "provenance questions" had been raised, or what would be involved in engaging them.

Honestly, the perceived theology of the scholars is a non issue for me, something that would only come up if I perceived a contradiction in their assembled stories. Assuming a bias against Evangelical scholars is not helpful. You should be aware I am only familiar with "Craig" from a previous discussion of NT scholarship, and am even less familiar with Daniel Wallace.

I've always been more interested in early Israelite religion than early Christianity, and more interested in the anthropology than the theology in any case. Does the theology of the scholars make a difference?

It was clear from the beginning that, even if authentic, the fragment would never trace back to anything more than a minor splinter group less relevant to the mainstream Christianity of its time than the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses are to ours. With no hint of a wife in the canon or early church fathers, and no reason to believe the presence of a wife would create an embarrassment, the fragment itself never had a chance to move opinion on whether Jesus actually had a wife.


Yep, this is the same fragment. Here's Christian Askeland's timeline from OBP's link,

Sept 2012 Karen King announces the discovery of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus. Almost immediately, Francis Watson and Simon Gathercole notice a relationship between the GJW and the Gospel of Thomas.

Nov 2012 Andrew Bernhard’s Patchwork Hypothesis proves that the GJW was copied from Grondin’s interlinear.

Apr 2014 The current blog revealed that an accompanying papyrus with the same handwriting was a forgery, calling into question the authenticity of all of the accompanying documents.

Racking my memory here, was that a portion of John? In any case, this is where I last remember the discussion.


Aug 2015 With the revelation of the owner’s interlinear, Bernhard’s Patchwork hypothesis becomes irrefutable.

June 2016 Walter Fritz, a former FU-Berlin Egyptology student, claims to be the owner of the GJW.

I understand this is a blog, but I'm still going to object to the language here, as in the triumphal partisanship of "becomes irrefutable." It's unnecessarily and unhelpfully combative. I just want to know if the fragment is a forgery.

Compare the above with:


And from Mark Goodacre's blog,

The owner’s “translation” of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife displays evidence of dependence on Grondin’s Interlinear in every line with more than one word. It includes repeated English “translations” of Coptic words not even present on the papyrus fragment itself, incorrect translations of Coptic text, and distinctive translations as well – all of which can be traced back to Grondin’s Interlinear.

And there you have it. Powerful arguments don't require the stomping of feet into faces.


I think another interesting point was made by another poster on /r/AcademicBiblical,

This would be a good point to mention why I prefer to use the indent tags:


i think in part you have to separate Dr. King the scholar and Dr. King the theologian. She (and Harvard) in a way are forging a theology, one where Christianity is much broader and more inclusive than conservative Christian theology. as a theologian, her life work is validated by this evidence. so then she is as respectable as BYU professors when it comes to Mormonism. I think her reputation as a professor is really more on developing a palatable theology for modern (or post-modern) thinkers than as an academic with papyrus work. if you seriously consider their theology (even if they don't call it a theology anymore), must of it is not grounded in ancient history, but on how theology [of] the past can be useful in today's context.

It's because they preserve the text when using the quote button.

Directly to the post, honestly, it reads as two parts hand-waving, "in a way," to three parts conspiracy theory, "and Harvard," "even if they don't call it a theology anymore." I don't see any value in it. It doesn't address the authenticity of the papyrus in any way.

Within bounds, there's always been a good deal of diversity within any religious tradition. I assume there will always be active debate on the extent of that diversity, and further, that new finds generally will increase the scope of that debate.

Juvenal
06-18-2016, 11:44 PM
Oh good! I actually have my eyes on a new pair of just for fun boots:

http://i.imgur.com/gRrBg0G.jpg?1

I doubt very much that they'll be as comfortable as your Cole Haan's, but nearly as stylish. :tongue:

My best score was a pair of these (http://www.colehaan.com/zer%C3%B8grand-wingtip-oxford-black/701937542662.html). They're simple amazing (if Crawfish is lurking), and lighter than air, but I'll let you judge how comparatively stylish they might be.

16479

I hit the DSW soon after we chatted, and no, nothing else came close to the Cole Haan's for comfort.

Adrift
06-19-2016, 02:14 AM
I'm speaking now as a scholar and not as a Christian believer (some of you know that I'm working toward a career in Early Christianity/NT).

King's lack of engagement with critical questions such as provenance is unconscionable. If she had engaged that question and then mounted an argument for a first century fragment, that's fine. She'd then have to be judged wrong on the evidence she adduced. However, her refusal to do so shows a fundamental lack of respect for scholarly methods in favor of furthering her own agenda(s). While that's not necessarily unavoidable, it moves her work from critical scholarship into a rather distasteful form of apologetics.

Edit: to my complete and total shock (read: sarcasm) she was a member of the Jesus Seminar.

I believe she argued for 4th century, but yeah, my thoughts as well.

Adrift
06-19-2016, 02:40 AM
I haven't done my usual diligence on this update, so please understand my comments here are off the cuff, based only on the short video from the Atlantic. In particular, I don't know what "provenance questions" had been raised, or what would be involved in engaging them.

When you get some time, read the full Atlantic article. King apparently took Fritz's story at face value while doing very little to check his story, which is something I imagine most people in her position ought to do when they're publishing about a new discovery with potentially controversial overtones. Controversy that she helped along by naming it The Gospel of Jesus's Wife. Just asking for the names of those authorities who supposedly reviewed the fragment before she got her hands on it would have been something. If independent scholars were able to do some of the simpler leg work, and connect the dots on their own, it seems strange that the Harvard scholar who had the actual name of the owner couldn't be bothered to do even a bit of digging, or at the very least, show interest in those who were.


Honestly, the perceived theology of the scholars is a non issue for me, something that would only come up if I perceived a contradiction in their assembled stories. Assuming a bias against Evangelical scholars is not helpful. You should be aware I am only familiar with "Craig" from a previous discussion of NT scholarship, and am even less familiar with Daniel Wallace.

I've always been more interested in early Israelite religion than early Christianity, and more interested in the anthropology than the theology in any case. Does the theology of the scholars make a difference?

In this case I imagine it might seeing as King is the Professor of Divinity at Harvard, which is literally a professorship in theology.


It was clear from the beginning that, even if authentic, the fragment would never trace back to anything more than a minor splinter group less relevant to the mainstream Christianity of its time than the Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses are to ours. With no hint of a wife in the canon or early church fathers, and no reason to believe the presence of a wife would create an embarrassment, the fragment itself never had a chance to move opinion on whether Jesus actually had a wife.

Of course. Though, that isn't exactly the way the media punched it up to the lay reader/watcher. There were plenty of salacious headlines after the announcement about Dan Brown-style Catholic Church cover-ups and "what could this mean about female clergy" type bylines. Even the Atlantic video I posted wanders into that territory a bit.


Racking my memory here, was that a portion of John? In any case, this is where I last remember the discussion.

Correct.


I understand this is a blog, but I'm still going to object to the language here, as in the triumphal partisanship of "becomes irrefutable." It's unnecessarily and unhelpfully combative. I just want to know if the fragment is a forgery.
Compare the above with:



And there you have it. Powerful arguments don't require the stomping of feet into faces.

Huh. I have no problem with the wording. The evidence against it is, as far as I can tell, irrefutable. The details that Goodacre points out. The way the papyrus was cut. The newly identified orange dots on the GJW fragment, and one of the forged documents found on Fritz's website. The fact that John was also forged in the exact same style from the same source... I mean, it's airtight. I'm not sure I see any need to not call it like it is, and I don't see how that's unprofessional. I've heard scholars say far nastier words than "irrefutable".


This would be a good point to mention why I prefer to use the indent tags:


i think in part you have to separate Dr. King the scholar and Dr. King the theologian. She (and Harvard) in a way are forging a theology, one where Christianity is much broader and more inclusive than conservative Christian theology. as a theologian, her life work is validated by this evidence. so then she is as respectable as BYU professors when it comes to Mormonism. I think her reputation as a professor is really more on developing a palatable theology for modern (or post-modern) thinkers than as an academic with papyrus work. if you seriously consider their theology (even if they don't call it a theology anymore), must of it is not grounded in ancient history, but on how theology [of] the past can be useful in today's context.

It's because they preserve the text when using the quote button.

Directly to the post, honestly, it reads as two parts hand-waving, "in a way," to three parts conspiracy theory, "and Harvard," "even if they don't call it a theology anymore." I don't see any value in it. It doesn't address the authenticity of the papyrus in any way.

Within bounds, there's always been a good deal of diversity within any religious tradition. I assume there will always be active debate on the extent of that diversity, and further, that new finds generally will increase the scope of that debate.

:shrug: Yeah, I agree that it doesn't address the authenticity of the papyrus in any way, but I still thought it was on point.

Chrawnus
06-19-2016, 09:22 AM
This would be a good point to mention why I prefer to use the indent tags:

It's because they preserve the text when using the quote button.


Indent tags are good. Another alternative is to use the cite tags, like so:

i think in part you have to separate Dr. King the scholar and Dr. King the theologian. She (and Harvard) in a way are forging a theology, one where Christianity is much broader and more inclusive than conservative Christian theology. as a theologian, her life work is validated by this evidence. so then she is as respectable as BYU professors when it comes to Mormonism. I think her reputation as a professor is really more on developing a palatable theology for modern (or post-modern) thinkers than as an academic with papyrus work. if you seriously consider their theology (even if they don't call it a theology anymore), must of it is not grounded in ancient history, but on how theology [of] the past can be useful in today's context.

Although indent tags do make the text a bit more reader-friendly IMO. :yes:

Chrawnus
06-19-2016, 09:26 AM
They're simple amazing (if Crawfish is lurking)

It doesn't work anymore, I have become inoculated from reading too many of Leonhard's posts. :smug:

ETA: I'm just going to point out my inconsistency in using contractions before the Jerk™ can do it.

robrecht
06-19-2016, 09:48 AM
If memory serves me correctly, Mark Goodacre has also considered the mounting evidence irrefutable for some time now, I think since the line-break evidence was presented.

One Bad Pig
06-19-2016, 12:09 PM
If memory serves me correctly, Mark Goodacre has also considered the mounting evidence irrefutable for some time now, I think since the line-break evidence was presented.
That's my recollection as well.