The “Jesus’ Wife” Fragment: Self-Promoting Personal Attacks
If you want to see a good example of what be-devils any scholarly analysis of practically anything to do with Jesus and early Christianity, have a read of the postings of the Canadian TV self-promoter, Simcha Jacobovici here.
Jacobovici (who styles himself “the naked archaeologist” on his self-produced TV programmes, and offers no competence in anything relevant to the analysis of the fragment) notes that various scholars (particularly Coptologists and specialists in ancient Greek palaeography) have raised questions about the authenticity of the fragment (announced to the scholarly world in Prof. Karen King’s paper presented at a conference in Rome several weeks ago), and simply trashes all the scholars and queries as “sleeper agents of Christian orthodoxy”.
He claims that they give no basis for their hesitations, which is patently incorrect and misleading. The several scholarly analyses that I’ve seen all in fact present in considerable detail reasons for wondering about this fragment. I’ve seen none, not a one of the scholarly analyses in question, that raises any issue about “Christian orthodoxy”.
Moreover, Jacobovici’s own spin on the fragment goes against Prof. King’s position on it. She freely and repeatedly notes that, if as she hopes the fragment is authentic, it has no bearing on the historical question of whether Jesus of Nazareth was ever married, emphasizing instead that the fragment is perhaps only evidence that by the putative time of the fragment (4th century CE), and perhaps even earlier, some Christians may have asserted that Jesus was married.
Jacobovici’s reasons for his scurrilous mis-characterization of the scholars who have raised questions about the fragment are all too transparent: He obviously seeks to promote his own TV programmes and related commercial ventures, and his oxygen is sensationalism, largely hyped by him and for his own benefit. As someone who has only reported on the on-going analysis of the fragment, I have no dog in this fight. But I do have to condemn Jacobovici’s patently self-serving rants against my fellow scholars, of various personal stances, who have simply taken up Prof. King’s invitation to weigh the warrants of the fragment, and have offered reasons for hesitating to treat it (at least for now) as genuine.