In 2014 an academic called Karen King published what appeared to be a fragment of a seventh or eighth century Christian document which appeared to say that Jesus Christ was married (or, as she very carefully put it, that some Christians in the seventh or eighth century believed that Jesus Christ was married.)
The document was subjected to very close scrutiny by other academics, and the consensus was eventually reached that the document was a forgery. Simcha Jacobovici, who believes in a number of fringe-theories about the historical Jesus wrote the following:
“The rules of the game are that any archaeology that contradicts orthodox Christian theology is either too late, too early, not what it looks like or an outright forgery. Nothing, I repeat, nothing in archaeology can ever contradict what Pauline Christianity says is the gospel truth. So in the 1970’s when Professor Morton Smith of Columbia University – the leading New Testament scholar of his day – said he found a version of the Gospel of Mark that contradicts the present Gospel, he was called an outright forger and he went to his grave with his reputation in tatters. They were kinder to Professor King. The sleeper agents of Christian theology didn’t say that she was a forger. They simply said that Professor King was dumb enough to fall for a forgery.”
This is a classic “you only think that because...” argument: the new manuscript appears to contradict Christian orthodoxy; therefore anyone casting doubt on it’s authenticity “only thinks that because” they are orthodox Christians. Therefore all evidence that the document is a forgery can be discounted. When you have discounted the evidence that it a forgery, what you are left with is evidence that it is authentic. Hence it is authentic: QED.
It is true that were an ancient document that shed heterodox light on the historical Jesus to be discovered, someone who was highly committed to orthodox Christianity would have an ulterior motive to say that it was forged. It is equally true that if a forged document were discovered, someone highly committed to different version—someone who claimed to have discovered the tomb of Mr and Mrs Christ and a coded Gospel describing their courtship, for example—would have an ulterior motive for saying that the document was genuine. But the theological prejudices of the writers tell us nothing about whether or not the documents is authentic or forged. That involves months and years of boring linguistic, textual and palaeographic study.
If heterodox writers always believe that heterodox documents are genuine. and orthodox writers always believe that orthodox documents are genuine no discussion of religious texts can ever occur. Jacobovici's reasoning takes historical theology out of the realm of rational discourse.
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