Thursday, September 20, 2012

The "dodgy" papyrus: the Fecht connection

I am wondering about the authenticity of the supporting evidence for PDodg. It seems that the Harvard Gazette tells us "The collector provided King with a letter from the early 1980s indicating that Professor Gerhard Fecht from the faculty of Egyptology at the Free University in Berlin believed it to be evidence for a possible marriage of Jesus." (B. D. Colen, "Suggestion of a married Jesus", September 18, 2012). Harvard Divinity School has issued this comment: "The earliest documentation about the fragment is a letter from the early 1980s indicating that Professor Gerhard Fecht from the faculty of Egyptology at the Free University in Berlin believed it to be evidence for a possible marriage of Jesus."

However, the New York Times reported: "It came with a handwritten note in German that names a professor of Egyptology in Berlin, now deceased, and cited him calling the fragment “the sole example” of a text in which Jesus claims a wife."

In contrast, the Smithsonian magazine noted:
Among the papers the collector had sent King was a typed letter to Laukamp from July 1982 from Peter Munro. Munro was a prominent Egyptologist at the Free University Berlin and a longtime director of the Kestner Museum, in Hannover, for which he had acquired a spectacular, 3,000-year-old bust of Akhenaten. Laukamp had apparently consulted Munro about his papyri, and Munro wrote back that a colleague at the Free University, Gerhard Fecht, an expert on Egyptian languages and texts, had identified one of the Coptic papyri as a second-to fourth-century A.D. fragment of the Gospel of John.
Munro, like Fecht, is no longer alive. Laukamp was a dealer in Berlin.

The Smithsonian also notes a second piece of correspondence:
The collector also left King an unsigned and undated handwritten note that appears to belong to the same 1982 correspondence—this one concerning a different gospel. “Professor Fecht believes that the small fragment, approximately 8 cm in size, is the sole example of a text in which Jesus uses direct speech with reference to having a wife. Fecht is of the opinion that this could be evidence for a possible marriage.”
Has anybody authenticated these two more modern letters? A typed letter could be forged. Whose handwriting appears in the second note? When was it written? Is it contemporary with the (purported) 1982 typewritten letter? Or could it be an afterthought added to the dossier when sold to the present proprietor?

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1 comment:

Stephen Goranson said...

The unsigned and undated letter purporting to give the views of now-deceased Prof. Fecht may be notable for, reportedly, having the opinion that this ms could be evidence for a possible marriage. Unlike Prof. King, and many others, who acknowledge that this ms does not provide evidence for first-century history, would it be typical of Prof. Fecht to make such a claim? Or might this be spin to increase sales price?

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