Over at ABC Religion & Ethics, John Dickson has a good write-up on the whole Coptic Gospel of Jesus’ Wife thing.
It would be cliched and unfair to accuse the media of a “beat up.” I prefer to think of it as an example of journalistic ignorance about Christian origins. I suspect many commentators simply did some quick media maths: pretty old document in some funny language + Dan-Brown-like claims + Harvard professor = a newsworthy story about the wife of Jesus. It is a little sad, though, that none of this was filtered through the few – very few – journalists in this country with some specialist knowledge of religious history. The result is that an unsuspecting public comes away from a news cycle like this with a vague and entirely inaccurate impression that the Jesus of history is entirely up for grabs, that little can be known about his life and ministry. This has religious implications, of course, but the historical fall out is also depressing. The so called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife contributes nothing to the field of historical Jesus studies, a field that continues to move forward with greater sophistication, and at a slower pace, than is ever likely to make the headlines.