An Unnecessary Weakness in Watson's Case

The case presented by Francis Watson and those who helped him build it is a strong
challenge to the authenticity of the content of the Jesus' Wife Fragment, hence to
the authenticity of the fragment itself. Yet, in its present form, it has a weakness that
ironically was thought early on to be one of its strengths. Fortunately, that weakness isn't
essential to the case, and can thus be eliminated with little effect on the main argument.
Indeed, its elimination strengthens the main argument by removing an aspect of it that can
be validly criticized.

The weakness in question is to be found on page 2 of Watson's online draft paper (both
original and revised), where he says:

"Line 1 of the new gospel fragment opens with the letters EI AN, and King plausibly suggests
that EI represents the last two letters of NAEI, 'to me', which recurs later in the same line.
The letters NA will therefore have been found at the end of the preceding line."

By using the word 'therefore' (which I've emphasized), Watson indicates that he believes
that his statement logically follows from King's. But it doesn't. Nor is it something that
Watson himself can assert, since it implies that the fragment was not torn from a larger page
(wherein the 'NA' would be immediately to the left of the 'EI'), which in turn implies that
that the fragment isn't authentic - which begs the question of authenticity. Peppard's
criticism (that line-splits of NAEI aren't uncommon) is thus beside the point. Watson cannot
say or imply that there is a line-split of NAEI in the fragment without implying that the
fragment is a forgery, thus engaging in circular reasoning and question-begging. That line 1
of the fragment suspiciously mirrors the beginning of CGT line 49.36 and the end of 50.01
is the point to be stressed, not a supposed split of NAEI.

- Michael W. Grondin, 14 Oct 2012, Rev 19 Oct 2012