Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Daniel Burke writes :

There’s a rumor circulating the Internets about Harvard Theological Review rejecting Karen King’s research paper on the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”

Not so, says Harvard Divinity School spokesman Jonathan Beasley.

In an email this morning, Beasley told me:

“Dr. King’s ‘marriage fragment’ paper, which Harvard Theological Review is planning to publish in its January, 2013, edition—-if testing of the ink and other aspects of the fragment are completed in time—-will include her responses to the vigorous and appropriate academic debate engendered by discovery of the fragment, as well as her report on the ink analysis, and further examination of the fragment.”

In my prior post reporting the rumor, I mentioned the tension in journalism between getting it first and getting it right, and of course here we are. Note, however, that Beasley’s quote suggests publication depends on testing (somehow) the age of the ink. In my mind, that should have been done before the paper was submitted and the media contacted, and if not by carbon dating, at least through spectrometry, as King suggested she might have done at some point. If the paper is published at all, it will also require serious revision to include King’s responses to “the vigorous and appropriate academic debate engendered by discovery of the fragment.”

That debate has been carried out largely on the internet. Again, we can and should ask all sorts of productive questions about scholarship in an internet and media age. I’m glad major scholars have been able to use the internet to respond to the initial claims made through major media like the New York Times , but again, the process feels rushed to me, on both King’s side and on that of those responding to her work. Much of this would have been avoided in any event if the age of the ink had been tested in some way.

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles