How the 'Jesus' Wife' Hoax Fell ApartFirst let me point out that the author does not use the word "hoax" in the body of the article. My guess is that he had very little to do with the title of this piece. Judging from a few dictionary definitions, the terms "hoax" and "deception" can be used synonymously. Still, I wonder about the connotative value of the word. Hoax seems to me to have the connotative value of a prank, whereas "forgery" suggests a scam for personal (most often monetary) gain.
So I ask the question: is the term "Hoax" appropriate here?
The fragment in question—if believed to be authentic—is of great monetary value. Ron Howard’s 2006 film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code grossed over $758 million worldwide. Dan Brown's book is still selling copies in the millions. Within the climate of this media appetite, the Smithsonian had plans to create a documentary on the Jesus' Wife fragment more than two years before the HTR issue was published. Is it unwarranted to guess that the motive behind the authorship of this fragment was monetary? Even if the author of this fragment only made thousands rather than millions, I wouldn't call him/her a "prankster." Aren't we dealing, rather, with a con-artist?