Coptic scholars are in a strange position compared to most other researchers of arcane and obscure corners of history: their field occasionally makes world-wide news headlines, especially when there is some text claiming something about a certain carpenter from Nazareth. Last week newspapers across the world announced that someone writing in  coptic on a piece of papyrus some time possibly in the 4th century had insinuated that the carpenter might have had a wife. Sensational, but well: it turns out the papyrus fragment is most likely not authentic. Read more about the arguments in this excellent post by Hugo Lundhaug and Alin Suciu. (For the record – this is the first time I reblog anything, so bear with me).

Alin Suciu

First of all, it should be clearly stated that, although in the following lines we shall express our doubts concerning the authenticity of the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, our suggestions remain hypothetical until the ink of the document has been properly tested. Secondly, our analysis does not refer either to the figure of the historical Jesus, or to his marital status, which are beyond our field of expertise, but only to a literary fragment written in Coptic, whose identity is suspicious.

During the 10th International Congress of Coptic Studies, which took place September 17-22, 2012 in Rome, the Harvard Professor Karen L. King introduced to us a previously unknown Coptic papyrus fragment.

(SOURCE OF THE PHOTOGRAPH)

Her paper was delivered on Tuesday, September 18, from 7.00 o’clock P.M., in one of the rooms of the Patristic Institute ‘Augustinianum.’  We estimate that about…

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Terror in the Mind of Who? A response to Mark Juergensmeyer on Breivik’s Christianity (and much besides)

The question of whether or not, or in what sense, the 22/7 Oslo terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is a “Christian”, and to what extent his Christianity had anything to do with his motivations to kill, has stirred up some debate. In my first post on Breivik I referred to sociologist of religion Massimo Introvigne’s refutation of the “Christian Fundamentalist” label, a label that really makes very little sense. More recently, however, other scholars of religion have insisted on emphasising Breivik’s Christianity, although refraining from categorizing it as Fundamentalism. At the University of Chicago the well-known American historian of religion Martin E. Marty writes about Breivik the Protestant. Meanwhile, another American scholar of note, Mark Juergensmeyer, insists that we see Breivik as a “Christian terrorist”.

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What’s “heterodoxy”, anyway?

It’s been a slow day at work. I might as well finish it off (and inaugurate the weekend) with sharing some simple reflections that are relevant for this blog: What the heck does “heterodox” mean, anyway?

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