It has been a while since the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife has been in the headlines. It was originally unveiled by Karen King at Harvard (here), but quickly exposed as a likely forgery. I have also written on the fragment (here and here).
While this document’s status as a forgery is relatively certain, what has been uncertain (until now) is the identity of the forger. Who was the person who created this document and convinced King and others to promote it?
The forger must have had some Coptic abilities. But, the abilities would have had limits–as demonstrated by the mistakes in the Coptic text.
What is remarkable is that King herself has not undertaken a rigorous investigation of the document’s origins and provenance. Who discovered this document? Who owned it? And how was it passed along? If the authenticity of a document is in doubt, this is an important avenue to pursue. But no one has wanted to pursue it.
But, now someone finally has. A journalist named Ariel Sabar has just published a splendid piece in The Atlantic documenting the history of this forgery and tracing it back to the current owner, and likely forger, a rather shady German business man, and washed-out Coptic student, named Walter Fritz.