The Jesus' Wife Fragment 2014: Charges of Sexism

Christian Askeland's Lapses in Judgment Lead to an Ugly War of Words

Apr 24: Christian Askeland posts Jesus had an ugly sister-in-law about the John fragment
(The title was belatedly changed two weeks later, but criticism of it has been preserved)
Apr 24: Mark Goodacre posts Jesus' Wife and her Ugly Sister
Apr 26: Askeland's response to Eva Mroczek's comment about his title angers Mroczek
(Askeland will say on May 20th that his response was "poorly worded and unnecessarily aggressive",
but on the same day that he responds to Mroczek, he deletes three comments he calls "unhelpful",
which leads to another bone of contention then and now - the two sides characterizing the deleted
comments differently - a dispute unresolvable due to the absence of a full and exact copy thereof.)

Apr 30: Goodacre changes the title of his post to "The Forgery of the Associated Fragment"

May 6: Mroczek charges sexism on USC Religion Dispatches, angering Charlotte Allen
May 7: Askeland drops the word 'ugly' from his blogpost title
May 8: Jim West posts "Some Feminists..."
May 9: April DeConick posts Sexism and the Gospel of Jesus' Wife
May 16: Allen posts contra Mroczek in Opinion L.A., angering Mroczek supporters

Commentary: This byway of the fragment debates wasn't its finest hour. The two
major opinion pieces by Mroczek and Allen are badly flawed, in my estimation.
While reporter Allen's is the worst on several criteria (including misrepresentation
of quoted parties and a blatantly false title and premise that feminist scholars were
opposed to any questioning of the authenticy of the JW fragment), scholar Mroczek
introduced an ugly ad hominem and guilt-by-association element by taking Askeland's
religion (religionism?) and his connection to the Green collection to be relevant.
Furthermore, though Mroczek's piece was hailed by many, it has flaws in evidence
and reasoning. The Smithsonian's (hence Ariel Sabar's) description of Karen King's
physical appearance is cited as an instance of sexism, for example, but in fact Sabar
routinely describes his interviewees' appearance, both male and female.
(See here my remarks in the comment areas of DeConick's and Mroczek's blogposts)

Sadly, the defects of both pieces have been ignored by their advocates in an eagerness
to score ideological points against their perceived enemies - another war of distortions
between zealots left and right where, as usual, neither is able to see, or willing to admit,
their own shortcomings. It is to be hoped that if there is any further discussion of this
subject, it will be more balanced and cool-headed than thus far seen. Emotions have
ruled too often in this unseemly episode; they need to be held in check, because they
prevent us from seeing the whole truth. Finally, on a personal note, my correspondence
with Askeland subsequent to the lapses in judgment that led to this sad chapter indicated
that he was trying to do the right thing (if not quickly enough) to rectify the situation.
- M.W.Grondin

This page initially made publicly available 22 May 2014. Last revised 4 April 2017.
Corrections and suggestions for improvement are welcome.