16 November 2012


Camplani and Suciu

Prof Dr Alberto Camplani
Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza"

Alin Suciu
Université Laval, Québec

Coptic Manuscripts in Pieces:
Jesus' Wife Gospel, and more

On September 18, 2012, during the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies (organized in Ro-me by three members of the teaching staff of Sapienza University of Rome and Istitutum Patristicum Augustinianum, Paola Buzi, Alberto Camplani, and Tito Orlandi), Professor Karen King delivered a paper concerning a papyrus fragment featuring a portion from a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. The fragment contains the words: “Jesus said to them: ‘My wife…” (Coptic: ta-hime), which probably refer to Mary Magdalene. Some days before the Congress, Karen King presented her disco-very to the media, and, soon after, the draft of her article appeared on the website of the Divinity School of Harvard University. In this article the author addressed some of the fundamental issues po-sed by the papyrus fragment.
A lively debate took place both during the congress and for some weeks after its conclusion con-cerning the authenticity of the fragment (is it a forgery or an authentic ancient fragment of text?) as well as its significance (if authentic, how have we to interpret Jesus’ words?). The two speakers, Alberto Camplani and Alin Suciu, have participated in this debate from different points of view. Here our intention is to give the listeners an idea of the complexity of the issues involved in this debate and an evaluation of the arguments that have been proposed, to add some new perspectives for what con-cerns the language, the codicology and the historico-religious significance of the fragment, and to contextualize it within the broader scope of the study of Coptic literary fragments. The latter part of our speech will include a brief description of the modern methods used by the Corpus dei Manoscritti Copti Letterari (CMCL) project, which is currently developed in Rome and Hamburg.