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Documentary about 'Jesus' wife' papyrus delayed
The fragment is written in Coptic, a language used by some early Christians.
October 16th, 2012
12:55 PM ET

Documentary about 'Jesus' wife' papyrus delayed

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– If you set your DVR to record the Smithsonian Channel's documentary on the "Jesus Wife" papyrus fragment two weeks ago and it didn't, it wasn't your fault.

Despite the massive publicity the documentary received after the discovery was announced, the Smithsonian Channel has delayed the release of the film about the Coptic fragment with the phrase, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife..." to wait for further testing on the fragment.

"We have been allowed exclusive access to this discovery for months. Our program will take into account the upcoming tests as well as the academic response to the initial announcement," Tom Hayden, general manager of the Smithsonian Channel, said in a statement sent to CNN on Tuesday.

Academics have expressed skepticism about the fragment's authenticity following an announcement about it last month from Harvard professor Karen King.

King has posited in a draft article, tentatively accepted by the Harvard Theological Review, that the papyrus dates  to the fourth century but that it could be a copy of a lost second century text.

5 Questions and answers about Jesus’ 'wife'

The papyrus found its way to King in 2010 from a collector.  She translated the Coptic, an ancient language used by Egyptian Christians, and discovered the phrase that made heads turn around the world.

But the fragment, which is about the size of a business card, also contains other phrases, which have stoked academic skepticism.

Many have noted its striking resemblance to the Gospel of Thomas, an early Gnostic Christian book containing sayings attributed to Jesus that were decided to be non-canonical and are not included in the Bible. Mark Goodacre, an associate professor of religion at Duke University, wrote on his NT Blog that the text on the papyrus was "a patchwork of pieces from the Gospel of Thomas."

That could suggest the piece of papyrus accurately dates back to the fourth century but a modern forger came along and added the text.

Opinion: What fascination with Jesus’ 'wife' tells us

When asked about the progress of the chemical testing of the ink a spokesman for the Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Theological Review refered back to a statement from last month.

"Karen King's 'marriage fragment' paper, which Harvard Theological Review is planning to publish in its January, 2013, edition - if testing of the ink and other aspects of the fragment are completed in time - will include her responses to the vigorous and appropriate academic debate engendered by discovery of the fragment, as well as her report on the ink analysis, and further examination of the fragment," the statement said.

As for the film, Hayden's statement said the  the delay "will enable us to present a richer and more complete story. We will be announcing a new premiere date in the coming weeks."

The Vatican in late September pushed back on the papyrus, with its newspaper calling the fragment “a fake.”

“Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit,” the Vatican’s  newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial by the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Coptic • TV

soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. Diraphe

    Should we expect trouble at our embassies in nations with christian majorities?

    December 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  2. Mac

    radiometeric dating of EARTH facts.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12853798/ns/technology_and_science-science/

    November 29, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  3. Gregory Falcone

    ICAME BACK BECAUSE I MISSED YOU ,HONEY!( Sam Kinison regarding God )

    November 27, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  4. Rick Shultz

    Actually since I believe that Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine, it not only doesn't "upset" anything, it doesn't even surprise me. It certainly does not change my belief in any fundamental way. About the only thing this has done is just give loud, arrogant, irritating atheists(as if there were any other kind) something else to rag on believers about. And we'll weather it OK. We always do. And if nothing else, in order for them to rag on us about it, they have to accept that Jesus did, in fact, exist. They can no longer blow off the vast majority of modern scholars who have long accepted the fact of Jesus' existance. I consider that to be a small bit of progress, if nothing else.

    November 16, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      Jesus was a man and human in every way except for sin. His SOLE role on earth was to teach; work miracles; forgive sinners; leave his Body and Blood as the new covenant and suffer and die for our sins. Once He died and rose again on Easter Sunday – His mission on earth was accomplished. Cope!

      To attempt to rewrite the New Testament [written by eye witnesses] for cheap sensationalism is to negate God's word. And that is unintelligent; selfish; Faithless and blasphemous.

      If you DON'T believe the word of God – fine, that's up to you. But to tag on to every new and misleading trash coming from so-called scholars is mindless. After all – they might have intelligence, qualifications and fancy initials after their names but what they DON'T have is Faith – which negates everything they say.

      November 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • bruce

      i have little doubt about Jesus actual existance as a figure in history, but the fact of his existance does little to prove or disprove the belief in his divinity, or that he was the devine redeemer, and saviour of the world.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  5. Read with Open Mind..

    God in Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    ‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]

    God will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary did you say to the people, `Make me and my mother idols beside God?' " He will say, "Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets.[5:116]

    The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    'Say, "We believe in God, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters." [2:136]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    November 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  6. augustghost

    face it jesus had a wife, had kids like any other "human" male back then...this just upsets the christian fairytale apple cart

    November 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      When you have no Faith – you have no understanding. Trite comments simply underline your lack of ability to rise above wrongly attributing man to animal status.

      November 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  7. LizardMom

    The article in question was alleging that the folks who have this papyrus needed more scientific evidence in order to show to the public what might be fraudulent or significant findings. Wow! So many of you are off track! It would seem actually reading the article might be a prerequisite to posting here, eh? Most of the posts here have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand. Do you people just pick random articles to spew your nonsense?

    November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  8. jonat

    This rag has been examined and ruled a fake but that doesn't stop CNN from using it to bash religion

    November 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Decency costs Nothing

      Oh well said jonat! Thank you -you're one of the few voices of sanity and education on this thread!

      As for CNN – as an old Irish teacher used to say ......."What do you expect from a pig but a grunt!

      November 23, 2012 at 1:29 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.