The Gnostic Noise Machine and the “Wife” of Jesus

By Thomas L.

I was going to let the whole “Jesus had a wife” thing pass by in silence, since the discovery of a minor fragmentary unprovenanced 4th century papyrus of a probable Gnostic text is about as relevant to actual Christianity as an episode of Scooby Doo.

If it turns out to be authentic (big if) it may very, very slightly and incompletely expand our knowledge of some of the fringe backwaters that burbled up and rapidly drained away in the early centuries of Christianity. Honestly, though, it doesn’t even really add much to our store of knowledge about Gnosticism (one of the earlier Christian heresies) that we didn’t already know.

I assumed it would just fade away as another academic sham perpetrated by the Gnostic noise machine, first set in motion by the disgraceful work of Elaine Pagels in her popular book The Gnostic Gospels (1979) and rolling on ever since. (Pagels most famously claimed that the spurious Gospel of Thomas predated the Gospel of John and that St. Paul was the source of the Gnostic traditions. Thanks for contributing that to our efforts to misunderstand early Christianity, Dr. Pagels. We have some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out.) The names affixed to the story–the New York Times, Laurie Goodstein, and Karen L. King–assured me that this was a minor bit of attention-seeking that would soon collapse under its own pretensions. Silly me. Read More: