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Special Feature: Dr. Dewey on "Gospel of Jesus' Wife"

By Taylor Fulkerson
On September 30, 2012

This week a new artifact called the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" stirred controversy in international headlines. Professor Karen King of Harvard Divinity School unveiled a passage in Coptic that dates to the fourth century in which Jesus refers to his wife. Arthur Dewey, professor of theology at Xavier University, had the opportunity to review Dr. King's findings prior to the public announcement in Rome on Sept. 18. The authenticity of the document has been highly debated, especially since King's source for the artifact has remained confidential. Furthermore, though the papyrus has been dated as accurate to the era, the script has been questioned, especially since Dr. King chose not to radiocarbon date the text to preserve its
fragile entirety. Dr. Dewey has given the content a rigorous analysis, too. Dr. Dewey stated in email correspondence that he is "in general agreement with [Dr. King's] findings," as well as with the dating processes used. "The key is that the material says more about second century communities than the first," Dewey said. Dr. Dewey also extended his analysis to a press release that was picked up by local media, including WKRC Cincinnati and the Catholic Telegraph; the monthly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The fragment is currently up for debate after Dr. King's initial analysis, which will be published in Harvard Theological Review's January 2013 publishing. The findings are expected to have ramifications for both the Jesus Seminar, of which both King and Dewey are fellows, and Christian interpretations of early Church history in general.  

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