Religion Magazine

Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Jesus' Wife?

By Goodacre
Whatever happened to the Gospel of Jesus' Wife?Larry Hurtado ("Jesus Wife" Fragment: A Continuing Puzzle) has been raising questions about the Jesus' Wife Fragment, which was  announced with a great fanfare in September 2012 but which has now largely gone to ground.
The key issue here is that several scholars raised serious questions about the authenticity of the fragment, after which Karen King, Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Theological Review all appeared to go quiet.  Nor has there been any public comment from the two other prominent scholars who originally supported the authenticity of the fragment, Roger Bagnall and AnneMarie  Luijendijk.
I won't repeat what Prof. Hurtado says in his blog post except to agree with his comments and to add some additional reflections of my own, born in part from continuing to think about this over the last year and more.
One of the issues here is that Harvard used the internet in a savvy way to publicize the claims, with excellent hi-def pictures published, a draft article, Q&As, video clips and so on. So we are not talking here about contrasting media.  This is not a case of blog-responses to published work. We are talking about responses within the same medium, responses, moreover, that were carefully considered, fair, detailed and rhetorically sensitive. If there are good answers to the critiques of Francis Watson, Andrew Bernhard, Leo Depuydt, Christian Askeland, Alin Suciu and others, then they need to be heard (see further: NT Blog: Gospel of Jesus' Wife).
As readers of those posts will know, I think the case for forgery is overwhelming.  But this does not mean that there is any shame in the early advocates of its authenticity explaining now that the case may not be as strong as they had originally thought. The internet brings something new and really valuable to scholarship, the availability of many eyes to look at something together in collaborative scholarship of a kind that was not available when, for example, Coleman Norton published his Jesus agraphon hoax.  (See further The Jesus' Wife Fragment and the Transformation of Peer Review?)
One concern that I would like to raise, though, is the following.  Where is the fragment now?  Is it still in the possession of Harvard Divinity School or not?  The report that I find troubling dates to January this year.  It is the most recent public comment about which I am aware:
"The owner of the fragment has been making arrangements for further testing and analysis of the fragment, including testing by independent laboratories with the resources and specific expertise necessary to produce and interpret reliable results. This testing is still underway," Kathyrn Dodgson, director of communications for the Harvard Divinity School, said in a email to CNN." (Still no news on the Jesus' Wife Fragment; emphasis added).
If the anonymous owner of the fragment is the one "making arrangements", is there any guarantee that we will ever see the results of these tests?  My question, therefore, is simple: where is the fragment now?

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