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The Jesus' Wife Papyrus in the History of Forgery1

  • Christopher Jones (a1)

Many forgeries pass through a cycle of fabrication, acceptance, doubt and final rejection. Consideration of a number of modern forgeries, notably those of Constantinos Simonides, illustrates how forgers exploit prevailing debates, look for persons or institutions on whom to practise their deception, and are often undone by their own errors, especially when manufacturing provenance. This ‘syntax’ of forgery can be applied to the case of the Jesus' Wife papyrus, though the participation of media corporations and the existence of the internet add a new element to the process.

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I am grateful to Francis Watson for inviting me to contribute to this discussion and for his advice, and to Glen Bowersock, Peter Parsons, Joseph Reed and Christopher Stray for further advice and criticism. For my information about Constantinos Simonides I have relied heavily on J. K. Elliott, Codex Sinaiticus and the Simonides Affair: An Examination of the Nineteenth Century Claim that Codex Sinaiticus Was Not an Ancient Manuscript (Thessaloniki: Patriarchikon Idryma Paterikōn Meletōn, 1982). J. A. Farrer, Literary Forgeries (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907) ch. iii, ‘Greek Forgery: Constantine Simonides’, treats Simonides gently; R. Schäper, Die Odyssee des Fälschers: Die Abenteuerliche Geschichte des Konstantin Simonides (Siedler, Munich, 2011) is a general and journalistic account.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

I. Sevcenko , ‘The Date and Author of the So-Called Fragments of Toparcha Gothicus’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 25 (1971) 115–88

I. P. Medvedev , ‘Excellent Scholar, Excellent Forger – the Case of Karl Benedict Hase’, Manufacturing a Past for the Present (ed. J. M. Bak , P. J. Geary , G. Klaniczay ; Leiden: Brill, 2014) 144–55

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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
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