Now that there is no longer any reasonable reason to argue for the fragment's authenticity, let us devote a bit more time for some self-reflection, shall we? I promise to make this post extra lengthy for your navel-gazing pleasure.
1. A few months after Karen King announced the existence of what she called "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" I was invited to give a public lecture about Jesus' sexuality alongside a few colleagues at the University of the Pacific. Carrie Schroeder's lecture that night addressed King's fragment more directly. She had a great line that night which has stuck with me. Carrie said, "I'm skeptical of this fragment for a number of reasons. But I am also skeptical of my own skepticism." Or she said something close to this (we'll go with the pink ipsissima vox bead). We could all stand to take this advice. The hermeneutic of suspicion was certainly useful in this case. It is equally true that a bit of reflexive suspicion was useful. Even our best experts are fallible and knee-jerk conclusions are rarely the best conclusions. Also, even if we are absolutely confident in our ability to spot a forgery, why not leave a bit of room for professional civility? Schroeder respectfully disagreed with King's argument for authenticity. King respectfully disagreed with my suggestion that modern ideological biases were relevant in this discussion. The tone of the conversation matters. Why not leave a bit of room for a change of mind in case newer and better information emerges?
2. We ought not forget that King was right about Jesus' historical marital status: the fragment was never going to reveal anything about Jesus as a historical figure. If authentic (and we know now that it isn't) it might have suggested something about early/medieval Christian belief. She never claimed what several news outlets suggested in headlines. In both her preliminary HTR essay and her subsequent interviews, King maintained that the fragment was too late too be valuable for historical Jesus studies.
3. We have not proven that Jesus was celibate. Our earliest and best data for Jesus still do not tell us much about his pre-public life. Sociohistorical research (which is largely what my book covers) suggests that Jesus would have been arranged for marriage by his parents prior to the age of thirty. But Jesus seems to hold some rather odd opinions about marriage and family. So the matter is not settled and it is certainly not hinged on the authenticity or forgery of King's fragment.
4. There are Christian biases in biblical studies. No doubt, there are theological agendas and apologetic motives. The question of Jesus' marital status is one of those issues that will attract (even if unwittingly) traditional assumptions. Moreover, many Christians will be repulsed by the topic of Jesus' sexuality. If this weren't true, there would be no motive for a forger to put forth a counter-narrative. It is also true that nobody is free of bias. The forger of this fragment seems to have some sort of anti-Christian bent. One sort of bias is no better than the other and both sorts are cause for self-reflection and self-awareness. If a fellow like Simcha Jacobovici claims to have discovered the true meaning of Mary Magdalene's menstrual flow, he doesn't get authenticity points just because he's unaffiliated.
5. This ain't your grandfather's social media, folks. In the olden days, when Jim Davila and Mark Goodacre were settling the frontier, social media might have seemed like a fringe interest. Those of us who were convinced that real scholarship happened in print media were convinced that blogs could be (should be) avoided. This latest forgery is a canary in the coal mine: the new peer-review process is a social media procedure.
And now I will leave you with a quotation by the good doctor: Dr. Seuss.
"I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells."