Anyway, this rant is sourced in the ridiculously slanted piece of so called journalism in the aforementioned latest edition of USNWR. While this periodical is typically fairly conservative politically (at least relatively speaking), they apparently could use a new religion editor. The article is punctuated with slanted phrases like "In that struggle -- arguably the most improtant waged by self-styled correct believers againt the so-called-heretics," "soldiers of orthodoxy," "the prominent second century hersy hunter, Bishop Irenaeus" and a picture of NT Wright in full clerical garb and an somber expression that makes him look a morbid misanthrope (or perhaps the 20th century heir to Irenaeus, the heresy hunter).
To be fair, I still need to finish the article, though I've already skimmed the remainder of it. However, the opening few pages had me so heated, I thought I'd vent a few words online. These issues have been on my front burner in recent days as I've been reading through Jesus and the Victory of God and am anticipating dipping into Bauckham's most recent treatise soon. Furthermore, due to a recent rebuke from reading Euangelion, I've been wading my way through some of the apocryphal and gnostic literature (Tobit, 1 Maccabeas and the Gospel of Thomas in the last few days). Anyway, all of this has put me in the frame of mind to want to gag while reading this sort of yellow journalism parading itself in the name of objective reporting. Instead, the article is guilty of the very sort of ideological imperalism that it accuses early orthodox christianity of. Nevertheless, it affirms the necessity of familiarizing oneself with the extra-canonical (if you'll excuse such a subversive, repressive term) literature. These issues are becoming more and more common in mainstream media and it is only fitting that believers have an informed answer.
**Postscript - I finished the article and it ends with more substance than it begins. There are some good quotes from Wright and Luke Timothy Johnson. However, the conclusion does not salvage the first half in such a way to make me retract anything I've said above.