Dan Wallace has reported that the Harvard Theological Review will not run Dr. Karen King’s article on the Coptic fragment that is being referred to as the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”. It appears that a number of Coptic scholars have found the authenticity of the fragment to be highly questionable. I’ve withheld comment on this issue so far, choosing to sit back and watch the sensationalism play out. Since we’re on the issue, though, I’ll say that even if the fragment were judged authentic, it would give us absolutely no credible evidence about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. First, it’s a fragment of papyrus containing only fragments of sentences. And without complete sentences, we have no way of knowing just what is being said. The infamous sentence fragment could have said anything, even something like: “Jesus said, ‘My wife is the one who does the will of my Father,” which wouldn’t be all that surprising. Second, the document is alleged to be from about the fourth century, which means that even if we did know how its sentences were finished, it is far enough removed from the time of Jesus that whatever it did say wouldn’t weigh heavily in a historical reconstruction of Jesus’ life. And none of that matters if it is indeed a forgery, which appears to be the case.
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