Friday 28 September 2012

What is Weird About PapDodge and the Smithsonian Blockbuster

I know I said I was not going to come back to this scrap of papyrus, but that was before I saw the "sneak preview" of the documentary film made about it which is due out the day after tomorrow. Here it is on YouTube getting the Hollywood treatment with the rousing score and the dramatic voice-overs and soundbites. The Smithsonian Channel no less. This is just pathetic.

Let me put that alongside another video. This one is Christian Askeland pointing out a few things that surely should have been considered before the interpretation was made that this object from an unnamed private collection was a genuine textual fragment from antiquity. I found the link on Mark Goodacre's  New Testament blog (Friday, September 28, 2012, 'Christian Askeland on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife: Forgery?'). Here he is talking about "Why this looks weird to somebody that does Coptic":


"I hear a lot of people on the internet saying it doesn't really matter, even if it's real, we know that the historical Jesus was not married. But the problem is it is very important whether this is a fake or not, because it comes down to the question of how we act as scholars, it comes down to the question of whether it is right to manipulate the media to create a lot of personal attention, to promote ourselves and our personal scholarship. There is a right way of doing things and a wrong way of doing things and in this case I think this has been hyped. I think that making  deals with media outlets two weeks in advance  was not the right thing to do".  It comes down to whether scholars should get mixed up with artefacts that have "surfaced" (from underground) on the antiquities market. The AIA says no, but it seems the Smithsonian (once again) has other ideas.

See also:
Radell Smith, 'Karen King needs Jesus to have a wife so her career can have a future?' The Examiner September 20, 2012

UPDATE 28.09.12

It turns out that the Smithsonian decided yesterday to postpone its documentary on the papyrus, and the Vatican has (uncharacteristically quickly) stepped into the controversy declaring it a fakes. 
The Vatican had remained quiet until L'Osservatore Romano editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian published an editorial Friday that called it a fake, reported CNN. “Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit,” he wrote. [...] The editorial also took aim at the American media, essentially stating that it blew the story out of proportion. The Smithsonian Channel planned to air a documentary on King’s findings, but have decided to shelve it for the time being. According to The Washington Post, it was supposed to air on Sunday, but has been delayed “until the text undergoes further tests,” a spokesman said.King’s analysis will be published in the January edition of Harvard Theological Review.  
It seems however that January publication is dependent on whether testing of the ink and other aspects of the fragment are completed in time, and apparently "will include her responses to the vigorous and appropriate academic debate engendered by discovery of the fragment", according to a statement released Wednesday by the Harvard Divinity School.

Daniel S Levine, 'Vatican newspaper says papyrus fragment with Jesus’s wife reference was a fake, Smithsonian delays documentary', 28th Sept 2012.

1 comment:

David Gill said...

"When I first saw this fragment, I couldn't believe it". This rather sums up the feeling.
We don't believe it.

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