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September 19th, 2012
06:05 PM ET

5 questions and answers about Jesus' 'wife'

By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN's Belief Blog

(CNN) - Since the news broke Tuesday about a scrap of papyrus containing the line in Coptic, "Jesus said, 'My wife..' " questions have rocketed across the world about what this means.

We put many of the big questions to leading scholars, pastors and people in the pews to find the answers.

1. Why is this just surfacing now?

The papyrus fragment is thought by Harvard Divinity School Professor Karen King to be from the 4th century but could be a copy of an early gospel from the 2nd century. King said a dealer, who wishes to remain anonymous, brought the fragment to her to be translated and analyzed in 2011. The New York Times reported the dealer hopes to give the fragment to Harvard if they buy a large portion of his collection.

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On Tuesday, King presented her findings on the fragment to a conference on Coptic texts held in Rome once every four years.

In some ways, texts like this are not uncommon.

Elaine Pagels, a professor from Princeton University who is an expert on gnostic writings such as this one, noted to CNN, "You can find boxes filled with Coptic fragments." But what makes this one significant is for the first time, it explicitly has Jesus referring to "my wife."

King posits it may have come from a complete gospel she and her research partners have dubbed "the Gospel of Jesus' Wife." If that were true, Pagels said "that could make the fragment much more valuable if it were part of a gospel, but we don’t know that.”

2. How do they know this isn't a fake?

Authenticating documents is equal parts art and science. What researchers are trying to rule out is if this is a modern forgery. To do that, they look at a variety of aspects, including the age of the paper, the chemical composition of the ink and text itself. The authentication won't confirm whether the text is true but only whether the physical item is true to the time frame researchers think it is.

The document was examined by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. Roger Bagnall, the institute's director and an expert on papyrus, examined it and determined it to be authentic, he confirmed to CNN. Ariel Shisha-Halevy, professor of linguistics at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, was asked to examine the authenticity, according to King. Shisha-Halevy said that based on the language and grammar, it was authentic.

Chemical tests on the ink are pending, King noted in a draft of her work set to be published in January in a peer reviewed journal.

Some experts in the field, including Pagels, suggest the fragment contains too little to be faked, suggesting that a forger would have included much more in the document to try and raise the value.

“We have to have more information about the fragment," said Douglas A. Campbell, an associate professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. He points to recent history when discoveries turned out to be fakes. “The academic community has been badly burned,” he said, adding that there is still much to be learned about the provenance of the document, "the history of where it came from and how they got it.”

“The anonymous donor thing is very problematic,” he said.

3. Does this prove Jesus was really married?

Short answer: No.

King herself was quick to point out in interviews that this piece of papyrus does not prove that Jesus was married. "This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that (Jesus) was married, nor does it prove that he was not married. The earliest reliable historical tradition is completely silent on that. So we're in the same position we were before it was found. We don't know if he was married or not," King said in a conference call with reporters.

The early consensus of other scholars we spoke to about this agree this document does not prove Jesus was married.

"Let's not neglect the fact this was written 300 years after Jesus' death," Hellen Mardaga, an assistant professor of New Testament at The Catholic University of America, told CNN. Mardaga says "the text may be real and not a forgery, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in with the Gospels.”

There is nothing in the Gospel accounts in the Bible and the earliest Christian tradition that speaks to Jesus being married.

"This is an aberration; this is something totally outside of any biblical tradition," said Jerry Pattengale, the executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative, which helps oversee one of the largest private collections of biblical antiquities.

"We know that tradition, or anything passed down, has a huge story to tell and there is a lot that can be learned from tradition that is linked to history. There is just no solid tradition for Jesus being married, so this is certainly an aberration and an important find," he said.

4. Would Jesus being married change Christianity?

Yes. Probably. But we'll never know for sure (see above).

Without getting too into the weeds theologically, it raises lots of interesting questions about how Jesus lived on Earth and what is not known about his life. For married couples, it also adds a healthy doses of mirth to the idea of being married to someone fully human and fully God, as the Christian creeds say Jesus was.

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"Had Jesus had a wife, I have no doubt he would would have treated her with the same dignity, respect and affection with which he treated his female disciples like Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and Martha," Christian author Rachel Held Evans said when we asked her about this.

"Though I confess I think it would be a little unfair for a woman to be married to God incarnate. Kinda makes it tough to win an argument," she joked. "On the plus side, he turns water into wine ... which would be nice!"

5. So can Catholic priests get married now ?

This discovery brought the issue of Catholic clergy and celibacy to the forefront and got a lot of people wondering whether this would prompt the church to shift on this issue.

“At the time this (fragment) was written, we had a married clergy," pointed out Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

Reese said this discovery won't change Catholic teaching on the marital status of Catholic clergy.
"It has nothing to do with whether we have a married clergy or not. For the first thousand years, we had a married clergy. For the last thousand years, we’ve had a celibate clergy."

The celibacy requirement is based on church law, not doctrine, which is the core, unchanging beliefs of the faith. "The church can change this rule whenever it decides to change the law," he said.

For Reese, the Coptic papyrus fragment does not hold great weight for the future of the Catholic clergy.

"This is a nice academic footnote, but beyond that, it is not going to be all that important," he said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Jesus

soundoff (1,438 Responses)
  1. achepotler

    This is as exciting as if we found out Harry Potter had an extra character that was edited out!

    September 20, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Huebert

      An.alogy win!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Was Dumbledoor married?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Dumbledore was gay. J.K herself said so.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • ME II

      but according to the Gnostic Deatheaters....

      September 20, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • End Religion

      this article is basically about jesus waving his "magic wand" at mary and shouting, "Erectus MyBonum!"

      September 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  2. Mindstorms

    Considering this finding would have major repercussions in Christianity if it were true one would think there would be major riots and death threats. Oh, never mind this isn't Islam.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • ChuckB

      A difference only masked by a thin veneer. You can thank independent and liberal Christians and secular humanists for this.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Bill Deacon

    And Jesus said unto them, Can the friends of the bridegroom fast, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.[Mark 2:19]

    I'm beginning to question the old saw that says atheists know the Bible better than Christians

    September 20, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • ME II

      I didn't think this papyrus fragment was from the Bible.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • ChuckB

      You do know to whom nuns are married.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  4. notraitors

    I wonder if someone came up with a wild hypothesis about Mohammed if CNN would put it on their website

    September 20, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I'm sure they would if it were archaological evidence, as this is.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • ME II

      If they have a 4th century papyrus fragment that relates, sure.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Well, a 4th century fragment about Mohammed would be VERY interesting, and would even make me question my beliefs.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • nottolate

      @notraitors

      "I wonder if someone came up with a wild hypothesis about Mohammed if CNN would put it on their website"

      Of course they wouldn't. They'd jump through hoops to bury such a story. They support and fear Islam at the same time and have no idea that Islam would love nothing better than to destroy them.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • ME II

      @Rational Libertarian,
      It would be interesting, wouldn't it? ; )

      September 20, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • End Religion

      nottolate and notraitors, stop talking to yourself.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Inhumanist

      First of all, this isn't a "wild hypothesis". There was more than sufficient analysis of evidence prior to this article being publicized. Stay on your meds or whatever it is you people need to keep your drooling Islamophobia at bay when you're trying to impress rational people.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  5. Larry Mandrell

    This is so foolish, an incomplete statement on a ancient piece of parchment, too many what if's.

    It could have been, (Jesus said, My Wife "is the Church").

    These so called experts need something real to do.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Was the Bible also foolish when it was just an ancient bit parchment?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      'Of' parchment.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Huebert

      If you are not going to read the entire article please don't comment. This piece of parchment is interesting because it is an aberration. It would not lead any scholar to conclude that Jesus was married.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • ME II

      ditto, on what Huebert said.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Larry Mandrell

      To Rational Lib, just a little more data than an incomplete sentence.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "These so called experts need something real to do" Maybe you could hire them to work with you at the Whoopee Burger?

      September 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  6. YYZ

    Was it a work-wife? Everybody has one of those and it doesnt mean anything...

    September 20, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  7. xyx25

    Marrying is not a sin and nothing wrong in marrying. But Jesus's mission was completely different. He didn't come to enjoy the lief on earth but came to accomplish His father's mission. His wife is the "bride of Christ", the eternal Chucrh consisting of all born-again believers.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL

      The world has corrupted the concept of marriage. It appears you have fallen for it. Many are wishing they never heard of it.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  8. lindaluttrell

    I still cannot get over all of the hoopla over a marriage for Jesus or not! The article, again, doesn't mention the LAPSE in his life...from around age 12 to when he started his preaching. If he followed custom of the time, Jesus was reputed to be a healthy male...therefore, by law he SHOULD have married. Christians claim to love Jesus so much, yet cannot graple with the fact the he may have been married and had a family. If so, bravo for him! People need to get over this!

    September 20, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • nottolate

      @lindaluttrell,

      "I still cannot get over all of the hoopla over a marriage for Jesus or not! The article, again, doesn't mention the LAPSE in his life...from around age 12 to when he started his preaching. If he followed custom of the time, Jesus was reputed to be a healthy male...therefore, by law he SHOULD have married. Christians claim to love Jesus so much, yet cannot graple with the fact the he may have been married and had a family"

      Well let me explain it to you in a nutshell. Its the worse kind of blasphemy and here's why:

      1. If true (and its not), then it would mean that Jesus is not God. That is both blasphemy and heresy.

      2. If you're God (and He is), you can't go around having relations with your own creation. Far worse than those angels spoken of who had relations with human women and are now locked up. It would be perverse and the cosmic equivalent of a crime against nature If you know what I mean. I can't say it cause the enemies of freedom and democracy at CNN with just delete it. But we all know what comes to mind first when we think of crimes against nature. So this makes it particular blasphemous.

      We've seen this before coming from the gnostics and so tis should not have even made the news.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • nottolate

      Forgot to add because of who and what he is. He stand so far above his creation that it is blasphemy outright as well.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Inhumanist

      Nottoolate, at some point in time it might help you to see past your veil of doctrine and consider the actual teachings of Christ. For one thing, it might remind you that you aren't speaking to your Bible Study group here.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Nottolate, blasphemy and heresy? Very Talibanish. To whom do such arcane notions apply, other than being a reason for excommunicating a church member? Certainly it would not be an excuse for rioting, assassination, etc. Christians are far too tolerant to do that, even if they wielded the power of the state.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • nottolate

      @Inhumanist.

      "Nottoolate, at some point in time it might help you to see past your veil of doctrine and consider the actual teachings of Christ. For one thing, it might remind you that you aren't speaking to your Bible Study group here."

      Um...that is the actual teaching of Christ. If you know something different then show me from the scriptures.

      "For one thing, it might remind you that you aren't speaking to your Bible Study group here."

      I am in fact speaking for the entire body of Christ as we all do. So go think on that.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Not-raitors or whatever your constantly-changing name is: "If you're God (and He is), you can't go around having relations with your own creation" He supposedly came here to live as a man. He ATE and DRANK his own creation, and it went through His Holy Gut and came out as a Holy, well, you hear people say it all the time. He sawed up boards from trees He created, swatted His flies, left muddy footprints all over His ground, and probably was sick, angry, sad, and other emotions that only come with glands. Are you going to deny His physicality, or are you going to tell us His Willie didn't work? Why is a non-Christian having to remind you that your religion is about God coming down here to share our lot?
      You ignore the fact that God Himself came down here in the flesh and did it with Mary, as explained by Joe Smith, and where do you get the authority to say 'if Jesus was married, He sinned?"

      September 21, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  9. Sunflower

    in the year 42, a little boat landed in Les Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, France. They had no oars, having been caught in a storm. Both Marys were in the boat as well as friends (including Lazarus the healed leper and St. Maximin) and a young girl named "Sarah" who was very dark. According to legend, Mary M had been pregnant by Jesus and first ran to Egypt with those closest to her. Then they crossed to France to find a safer place to live. Of course the village didn't have that name at the time, the name came later because of the boat landing :)

    September 20, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      We've all read the Da Vinci Code.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Larry Mandrell

      You put too much faith in a novelist try the Scriptures for a change.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      At least we know who wrote The Da Vinci Code. Try science and reason for a change.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Ed

      Rational Libertarian +1

      September 20, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • ChuckB

      Without significantly more evidence and independent corroboration, the scriptures are only novels, unless you suspend disbelief.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  10. Tom

    I think the entire fragment is highly suspect, if for no other reason than the word "my" in the fragment is darker than all the words around it (ta hime in Coptic, the "ta" is very visible). Also, the word right before that, "to them" (nau) seems to be the blurriest. It is possible that this is an ancient fragment that was doctored by someone to make news and/or money. Even if it were completely genuine, it still just dates to a time when Gnostic groups claim Jesus was married and has no dispositive value either way.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I'd like to nominate you for the most reasonable "Tom" award on the board

      September 20, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • ChuckB

      It seems probable that much scripture was adulterated to provide evidence to support conflicting beliefs. After all, scholars only have copies of copies of copies to work with.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  11. Darlene Buckingham

    And the hate mongering continues. What does it matter in the end. Did you life a life helping people or hating people? This is a more important question because we can't prove one way or another what the true story is about Jesus, Mohammed, We do know whether we have been a hateful or loving person that has either lived harming life or helping life. Everyone who lives knows the truth of this whether they want to admit it or not. We all know that killing and harming others is wrong. In the end we only have ourselves to answer to. Each of us knows the truth. Can each of us live with what we have done with our lives when it is time to go back to Spirit. That is the moment of truth for each of us – what is the point of lying when one is leaving this Earth. Good journey to ALL.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "What does it matter in the end." Always look on the bright side of death.

      September 21, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  12. Christina

    Jesus often referred to the church as his wife.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • notraitors

      No, he didn't. That came from Paul as an allegory of God's relationship with his followers

      September 20, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Tom

      No, he referred to it as his "bride". The language is very clear in distinguishing the two. In Coptic, as in the original Koine Greek, there are two different words (in Coptic, it's hime or shime for "wife", and "sheleet" for bride, in Greek it's "gyne" for wife and "nymphe" for bride).

      September 20, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Eric G

      Did he now? I think you mean that people claimed that Jesus said that. The question is, are they to be believed? Are they credible?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Olaf Big

      Huh? Which Church?? There was no christian church when Jesus lived, just a small group of his followers.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  13. mehnaz

    please stop interpreting Jesus in a wrong way its hurts our sentiments for you its just a research but for us its everything and besides researching Jesus you have more other researches to do

    September 20, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • End Religion

      if you prefer to wallow in ignorance perhaps the internet isn't the place for you to hang around.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Inhumanist

      If you have nothing better to do than accuse strangers of wallowing in ignorance, you perhaps need to get a life.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • ChuckB

      So you can understand the pain Muslims are experiencing with the issuance of excerpts from a video and cartoons denigrating Mohammad?

      September 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  14. TarnishedAngels

    Jesus was married. Get over it.

    Jesus was a Rabbi, and at that time and part of the world, to be a Rabbi a man had to be married and have at least one surviving child.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Sunflower

      THANK YOU!! FINALLY someone who knows their history!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • notraitors

      Got a copy of the marriage certificate?

      Time for you and sunflower to get off the MSNBC koolaid

      September 20, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Historical accuracy is the enemy of faith.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • ME II

      ....but was Jesus a rabbi?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Larry Mandrell

      Funny, you probably don't believe anything in scripture but you swallow completely and incomplete sentence.
      Bet you also believe you are smarter than us.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL

      Nah, you're an idiot. The official rabbi's killed Him because He WASN'T married. They found out marriage wasn't all it was cracked up to be. They were jealous.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL

      'Sides, Jesus came to SAVE the sheep, not skin em and turn around and try to sell ye olde sheepskin back to the victims, er students.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  15. Casting Doubts On This

    The fact that this piece surfaces just now certainly brings other things into question. Mainly, with the interpreters having their own personal prejudices, as no doubt they did, who is not to say that they simply decided to concoct this story for whatever reason and pass it on as authentic? There is no way to prove they didn't, or did for that matter. Such a thing would go against the grain of what we have been taught and have learned about Christianity and Jesus who was above sin as God's only Divine Son. Therefore, it literally makes no sense that He would have been married.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      It literally makes no sense that someone would randomly capitalize the third-person singular masculine nominative case pronoun.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      or maybe what you were taught about christianity was just a bunch of crap in the first place.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Sunflower

      It DID NOT surface just now. It's OLD news.....

      September 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • realbuckyball

      The fact that this piece surfaces just now certainly brings other things into question. Mainly, with the interpreters having their own personal prejudices, as no doubt they did, who is not to say that they simply decided to concoct this story for whatever reason and pass it on as authentic? There is no way to prove they didn't, or did for that matter. Such a thing would go against the grain of what we have been taught and have learned about Christianity and Jesus who was above sin as God's only Divine Son. Therefore, it literally makes no sense that He would have been married.
      ----------------------------------------------------
      So, since when is that a problem for you people. That's EXACTLY what the gospels are. Concocted PR. Just because it "against what you have been taught" invalidates nothing. Humans have been wrong about almost everything they ever thought was truth. Why should YOU be any different, or special ?

      Actually this piece of text fits perfectly, historically and geographically.
      The Coptic Gnostics in Northern Egypt, have always believed Jesus was either married to, or had an intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene. This is nothing new, or odd. The Western Church has always denied this, and will no doubt this time. The church is not interested in truth, or evidence. Only their unsupported as'sertions.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • ME II

      "Such a thing would go against the grain of what we have been taught and have learned about Christianity and Jesus who was above sin as God's only Divine Son. Therefore, it literally makes no sense that He would have been married."

      That's it, dismiss all evidence contrary to what you've been "taught", without any evaluation of it's veracity, that makes so much more sense. /sarcasm

      September 20, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Timmy

      If Constantine had been Gnostic you would be on here talking about how this fragment proves the truth of the bible.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  16. Olaf Big

    True, or untrue, Mr. J being married takes him one step closer to normality, and hopefully will do the same for the most zealous of his followers.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • End Religion

      that is, if fictional literature characters can be "normal"...

      September 20, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  17. Shardik

    It was written 200+ years after the supposed incidents but the fundies can't contradict it because people might start wondering why all the other Gospels – also written well after the fact – are "real."

    September 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Joepub

      You are forgetting the Dead Sea scrolls which were written around the time of Jesus. They validate the Gospels. Sad trombone time for you.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  18. Reality

    Only for new members of this blog:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man (married or not) would do or say?
    ===============================================================================================

    September 20, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • notraitors

      Do I get to go on a rampage because I don't like what you said? And what the media blame you for it?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Mike from CT

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man (married or not) would do or say?

      So you agree that He existed, you agree with someone ~2000 years after the fact that has already been discredited. But why do you ignore the historical eyewitness accounts

      And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
      “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
      because he has anointed me
      to proclaim good news to the poor.
      He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
      and recovering of sight to the blind,
      to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
      And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
      (Luke 4:17-20 ESV)

      Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
      (Luke 1:1-4 ESV)

      how many illiterate do you know that read?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • notraitors

      And would the media blame you for it?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • reasonablebe

      good points.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Larry Mandrell

      Is it ok for me to assume that you don't believe the same as I do,
      wow a difference of opinion.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Joepub

      Aww someone must of had lumps in their oatmeal today.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Inhumanist

      Perhaps because your alleged "first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man" turned this world upside down.
      Perhaps because he inspired the kind of loyalty that allowed his followers to be thrown to the lions rather than relinquish their faith.
      Perhaps because their non-violent example eventually won over the violent Roman Empire.
      Perhaps because the vast majority of the inhabitants of this world are still followers.
      Perhaps because you have an axe to grind, and it's evident to everyone else but yourself.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • FYI

      Inhumanist,
      "Perhaps because the vast majority of the inhabitants of this world are still followers."

      Only around 1/3 of the World's population is Christian. That is certainly not the "vast majority".

      September 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Reality

      Luke 4: 16 is a single attestation. No where else in the NT does it say Jesus could read thereby making said passage historically unreliable. Luke 4:16-24 has been compared to a number of other passages and found to be equivalent with the exception of Luke 4: 16 which is the only passage in the list of equivalents that mentions reading:

      http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=022_Prophets_Own_Country (leave out the hyphen in "t-itle" if you access the reference)

      GThom. 31 & P. Oxy. 1.31
      (2) Mark 6:1-6a = Matt 13:53-58
      (3) Luke 4:16-24
      (4) John 4:44

      Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was illiterate coming from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist. e.g. The Excavation of Jesus (with Professor Reed), pp 30-31..

      The question of Jesus's literacy has also been much discussed by the Jesus Seminar and others and they note that references in the Gospels to Jesus reading and writing may well be fictions.

      The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.

      Luke 2: 41-52, the twelve year old Jesus in the temple- As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 275, " the episode is unhistorical" (again, a single attestaion). See also http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=433_Jesus_at_Twelve

      It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

      Of course, Muslims believe that Mohammed was also illiterate. This way, they can claim that the only way he could have received the "angelic", koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic domination of the globe by any means, was orally since he could not read and write.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Reality

      Putting the kibosh/”google” on religion. Tis mind-boggling how easy this is:

      • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      (prob•a•bly used above-
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.)

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      September 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  19. notraitors

    So now do Christians get to riot and rampage because they might believe this insults Jesus?

    September 20, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      The West has had the Renaissance, Reformation and the Enlightenment.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Ayatollah ben Dover

      Look up the burning of the Ursuline convent in Boston in 1834. It's a game Christians can play as well as Muslims.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Shardik

      No, why do you ask?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • notraitors

      Shardik, because the media and the left in general (including our current "administration") make excuses for the Muslims and try even harder to appease them. If a group of Christians did riot in response to this hypothesis, the media and left would NEVER blame the originator of it, the way they have the producer of the "Innocence of Muslims" video

      September 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I actually agree with notraitors there. No blame whatsoever should be put on the film's makers for the reaction.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • End Religion

      why oh why did we ever stop feeding you to the lions... Your words are draining my IQ.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Joepub

      Rational Libertarian

      The West has had the Renaissance, Reformation and the Enlightenment.

      Yes, thanks to colleges which were started by....... wait for it...... churches.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Huebert

      @Rational

      I understand your sentiment. If the video is simply hate speech no blame should be assigned to the creator. But what if the video was an attempt to provoke a conflict?

      September 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Inhumanist

      Notraitors, if you want a serious discussion, you might not want to preface your claims with debunked right-wing talking points.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  20. Shadwell

    Jesus and Mohammed were lovers in an alternate universe

    September 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • notraitors

      Now do I get to trash a few buildings because I don't like what you said about Jesus?

      September 20, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Inhumanist

      Go for it – you're already trashing this forum.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.