The Coptic conference in Rome is off to a fast start! Among the many interesting communications today at the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, two concerned fascinating and unpublished apocryphal texts (fragments, unfortunately), digital images of which have graciously been made available online before their print publication, allowing scholars and the interested public to study them immediately. Professor Karen King of Harvard presented a tiny, poorly-written portion of a manuscript page, owned by a private collector, which features a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples in which he mentions “my wife.” King, working with Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk of Princeton, has made a draft of their editio princeps, English translation, and study of this “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”, forthcoming in Harvard Theological Review, available for download:
They suggest that the text was written in the second century, citing denials that Jesus was married by Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian of Carthage, as well as parallels with other apocryphal texts usually dated to this era; this is certainly a plausible hypothesis. But regardless of the original date of composition, it seems to me that Jesus’s marital status would have been an even more poignant topic for debate among Christians in Late Antiquity, after the rise of the ascetic/monastic movement, with controversies about the relative value of celibacy and marriage occupying center stage. King and Luijendijk tentatively date the manuscript to precisely this period (the fourth century), although dating based on handwriting is very uncertain, and it may be later. In addition, there is some question as to whether the text is a forgery, especially given the peculiar hand. According to the draft of their article, possible explanations for the clumsy style of writing have been suggested by the eminent papyrologist Roger Bagnall, Director of NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. In any case, this is a document that will repay further study!
In addition, digital images of further fragments from Codex Tchachos, most famous for containing the Gospel of Judas, are now available on the website of Professor Gregor Wurst of the University of Augsburg, who is producing a critical edition of them:
I will discuss online resources for Codex Tchachos at greater length in another post.