Remember some years back when there was news about the discovery of a lost fragment that made mention of Jesus’ wife? It was all over the place. You haven’t heard anything about it because once under scrutiny the real news was far less exciting. But the media accomplished its goal with sensationalistic reporting. In his book, Can We Still Trust the Bible, (Brazos Press) Craig Blomberg offers a nice summary of what transpired.
“When I wrote the first draft of this chapter in September of 2012, the internet was flush with speculation about a supposedly fourth-century scrap of Coptic text, released and translated by Harvard professor Karen King. King’s article made it clear that she thought the text had no bearing on our knowledge about the Jesus of history, but that was not what news reports latched on to. What they hyped was a fragmentary line of text that apparently read, ‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . .’ If the text were not a forgery, if it were genuinely from the fourth century, and if King had given us the best possible translation, we would still need to note that fragmentary fourth-century Coptic texts from the Middle East with unorthodox teaching about Jesus and the disciples are precisely what the large corpus of gnostic texts represents. These documents tell us next to nothing about the historical Jesus, only about the distortions made of him by one heterodox sect that came to full bloom only in the second century after Christ. Within a short time, however, other scholars, especially Durham New Testament professor Francis Watson, gave reasonably conclusive evidence to suggest that the fragment was a forged, modern pastiche of snippets of the Gospel of Thomas and that the word King translated as ‘wife’ should be rendered as ‘woman,’ detached as it originally was from ‘my.’ Yet only a handful of news stories, not nearly as well publicized, disabused the public of the misleading views originally put before them.” (p. 36)
The moral of the story: reader beware of sensational stories from the press about new discoveries regarding Jesus. If there is little to no follow up something turned up that made the press lose interest.