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Re: [GTh] Bernhard's New Essay on GJW

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  • sarban
    Hi Ian Just to clarify my position. If the handwriting on the note closely resembles the known handwriting of say Professor Munro then I agree I was being too
    Message 1 of 13 , Nov 11, 2012
      
      Hi Ian
       
      Just to clarify my position.
       
      If the handwriting on the note closely resembles the known handwriting of say Professor Munro then I agree I was being too dismissive.
      However I don't think King's article claims this.
      Nor do the other documents mention such a note.
      The mere presence of such a note among a collection of other documents dating back to the 1980's is not sufficient to establish that this note itself dates from the 1980's
       
      Andrew Criddle.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Ian Brown
      Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 9:28 PM
      Subject: Re: [GTh] Bernhard's New Essay on GJW

       


      Andrew, I'm afraid dismissing evidence without addressing it is not a good way to form an argument. So the note was unsigned. The fact that it is part of a larger collection, which includes a signed note, seems to suggest it is part of the same review. Additionally, if we want to argue for GJW's dependence on Mike's interlinear, then we must posit not only a forged ancient Coptic text, but also a forged 1980s German text. This seems to me to be EXTREMELY special pleading given that the ONLY REASON anyone would argue that a note that seems for all intents and purposes to belong to a set of notes on a papyri collection first reviewed in the 80s was forged, is that they are already assuming that papyri is a forgery. Kinda circular reasoning, I think.

      Ian Brown
       
    • Mike Grondin
      ... Almost certainly? Nah. What s interesting to me that this is the very position that I took back on Sept 26th, before the two pieces of evidence of
      Message 2 of 13 , Nov 11, 2012
        
        [Ian]:
        > What I sought to illuminate was that GJW was almost certainly NOT composed
        > based on Mike's interlinear since there is evidence of it existing in the 80s, well
        > before Mike made his site.
        "Almost certainly?" Nah. What's interesting to me that this is the very position
        that I took back on Sept 26th, before the two pieces of evidence of possible
        borrowing from my interlinear became known. The collector's note constitutes
        prima facie counter-evidence, to be sure, but its authenticity and dating have so
        far been only presumed (King's word), so it seems a bit odd that you would put
        so much weight on it. But what is your position? That it might have been a forgery
        from the 80's? OK, then we need to weigh the likelihood that the forger accidentally
        dropped a letter from two different lines, against the likelihood that he/she thought
        that the spelling was correct, because that's what was in the source being used.
         
        Mike Grondin
      • Ian Brown
        Quoting Mike But what is your position? That it might have been a forgery from the 80 s? OK, then we need to weigh the likelihood that the forger accidentally
        Message 3 of 13 , Nov 12, 2012
          Quoting Mike "But what is your position? That it might have been a forgery
          from the 80's? OK, then we need to weigh the likelihood that the forger accidentally
          dropped a letter from two different lines, against the likelihood that he/she thought
          that the spelling was correct, because that's what was in the source being used."

          Fair question, Mike. No, I don't think it was a forgery from the 80s (although I understand how my last post might have led you to think that, that's my fault for being unclear). My position is as follows, and takes into consideration the following evidence available to us all.

          1. We have a text that seems to have known parts of (or traditions that influenced) the Gospel of Thomas (except where is doesn't) on a credit card sized fragment.

          2. Karen King, who initially thought this text a fraud, worked with it for several months before determining it likely dates, both papyri and ink, to the 4th century CE.

          3. King did not simply come to this conclusion on her own, however, and enlisted the help of several papyrologists, including Roger Bagnall, one of the most well respected papyrologists in the world.

          4. Bagnall concluded that the handwriting found in the fragment is consistent with the handwriting of 4th century Coptic scribes. Additionally the papyri itself is carbon dated to the 4th century.

          5. Following this King introduced the fragment to the world at a scholarly conference for Coptic Studies, NOT via National Geographic, or CNN, or some other sensation forum.

          6. Neither Bagnall nor King have anything to gain from supporting a fake document, King especially. In a world where biblical scholars aren't exactly the most famous people in the world, King is one of the most well known outside of the academy and gains nothing from being part of a sensation.

          What I find most troublesome about the arguments for GJW being a modern document (as I mentioned early, although perhaps less clearly) is that these arguments are not engaging with the most significant points FOR this fragments 4th century dating, namely Bagnall's handwriting analysis and the 4th century date of the papyri. Is it still possible it is a modern production? Sure, but we are now dealing with a modern scribe who, far from bumbling his/her way through Coptic, has enough training to perfectly mimic the handwriting of a 4th century Coptic scribe, thus fooling one of the world's foremost experts on ancient handwriting. Is this really the simplest solution? No, it is not.

          It seems to me that what we have here is a 4th century text which used, or knew Thomas, or shared traditions about Thomas, especially re: female disciples.

          ian brown
        • Mike Grondin
          Hi Ian, I agree that there has been little engagement with the evidence on either side. The essays of Peppard and Paananen are outdated, since they were
          Message 4 of 13 , Nov 12, 2012
            Hi Ian,
             
            I agree that there has been little engagement with the evidence on either
            side. The essays of Peppard and Paananen are outdated, since they were
            responses to the first version of Watson's essay. The revised version
            of Watson's paper is also outdated, but there hasn't been any response
            even to that. Andrew B's latest essay is now the one to look at, and I
            must say that your characterization of it doesn't do it justice. The linkages
            to CGT are much more precise than your wording suggests. But turning
            to the other side of the coin, Stephen Carlson has made a good start by
            suggesting that the supposed Munro note about the fragment be carefully
            checked for authenticity (though the date of it will still remain in question.)
            Here's some other points of contact:
             
            1. It is evident that the papyrologists who initially examined the fragment
            were not well-versed in CGT. They spotted some similarities, but were
            unaware of the extent of agreement. It was only when this became obvious
            that the HTR article was delayed, and additional tests called for. Had the
            Harvard people not thought that the forgery case was strong, I doubt if
            this would have happened.
             
            2. The dating of the papyrus is irrelevant. As you no doubt know, old
            pieces of blank papyrus (or with faded writing) can be obtained. Even
            ink consistent with antiquity can be produced. (What happened to that
            scheduled ink-test, BTW?)
             
            3. "consistent with the handwriting of 4th century Coptic scribes":
            Well, in the first place, there were a variety of styles. Secondly, it
            doesn't strike me as particularly difficult to copy one of those styles.
            What you don't mention is that the writing instrument used was not a
            common one, nor is the blunt lettering very common either. Christian
            Askeland has also drawn attention to the unusual shaping of the omega.
            Which is not to say that it's impossible for the inscription to have been
            done in antiquity, but that the evidence isn't as strong as one might think.
            It would be good if Bagnall and/or HDS/HTR would make analogous
            exemplars available, but to my knowledge they haven't. Indeed, the
            silence of Bagnall and the whole King team since the initial publicity
            has been curious.
             
            Such are the first thoughts that come to me, anyway, in response
            to your comments.
             
            Mike Grondin
          • Mark Goodacre
            ... Yes, it s clear from King s HTR article that she and the others had not realized the full extent of the borrowing from Coptic Thomas. This is not criticism
            Message 5 of 13 , Nov 12, 2012
              On 12 November 2012 15:28, Mike Grondin <mwgrondin@...> wrote:

              > 1. It is evident that the papyrologists who initially examined the
              > fragment
              > were not well-versed in CGT. They spotted some similarities, but were
              > unaware of the extent of agreement. It was only when this became obvious
              > that the HTR article was delayed, and additional tests called for. Had the
              > Harvard people not thought that the forgery case was strong, I doubt if
              > this would have happened.

              Yes, it's clear from King's HTR article that she and the others had
              not realized the full extent of the borrowing from Coptic Thomas.
              This is not criticism of King or others -- I didn't spot it at first
              either; it was only after prolonged staring at it that it became
              clear. This is just the natural progress of scholarship -- sometimes
              it takes time and many pairs of eyes to see things that in the end are
              pretty clear.

              The breakthrough in Watson's piece was in realizing that the links
              were not simply those of the natural relationship of literary works to
              one another (as, e.g. intra-Synoptically or Thomas-Synoptics) but
              specifically in Coptic Thomas from Codex II and the Jesus' Wife
              Fragment.

              > 2. The dating of the papyrus is irrelevant. As you no doubt know, old
              > pieces of blank papyrus (or with faded writing) can be obtained. Even
              > ink consistent with antiquity can be produced. (What happened to that
              > scheduled ink-test, BTW?)

              Ian may be right that there has been carbon dating of the papyrus, but
              I have not seen reference to this. The ink test is still pending. The
              most recent statement I have seen on this is the recent Boston Globe
              article (which I'll blog shortly).

              Best wishes
              Mark
              --
              Mark Goodacre
              Duke University
              Department of Religion
              Gray Building / Box 90964
              Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
              Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530

              http://www.markgoodacre.org
            • Tom Hickcox
              A well written article from the Boston Globe on Karen King.
              Message 6 of 13 , Nov 15, 2012
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