I’m excited that next week I’ll be heading to the University of Agder in Norway to visit the research project, “The Lying Pen of Scribes: Manuscript Forgeries and Counterfeiting Scripture in the Twenty-First Century,” best known for its incisive investigations into the so-called “post-2002 Dead-Sea-Scrolls-like fragments,” such as the detailed review of the Museum of the Bible’s Scrolls fragments by Årstein Justnes.
After the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” affair, there has been a marked interest in forgeries and fakes among scholars of antiquity. Macquarie University is home to the Australian Research Council Discovery project, “Forging Antiquity: Authenticity, Forgery and Fake Papyri.” And the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research is sponsoring a project on fake ancient inscriptions: “False testimonianze. Copie, contraffazioni, manipolazioni e abusi del documento epigrafico antico.”
My week at the University of Agder begins on Monday, October 22, with a one-day symposium, “God’s Library, Gabriel’s Stone, and Forgers’ Bookshelves: On Dating, Faking, and Trafficking” (full program available here).
I’ll be making a couple contributions. First, I’ll talk about some recently discovered archival material relating to the acquisition and dating of P.Ryl. 3.457, better know to most as the New Testament manuscript P52, the Rylands Library fragment of the Gospel according to John. In the evening, I’ll be speaking more generally about how we determine the dates of early Christian manuscripts.
Later in the week I’ll be discussing ancient libraries and talking a bit about my recent book, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by!