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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. Timothy

    By the power of GOD, we will come to find that it is not authintic. there is no doubt that its a fake.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  2. portcon801

    Are any christians thinking about taking to the streets and violently protesting? If something like this were to happen regarding Islam's prophet Mohammed (archaic "proof" of something seemingly salacious), there would be riots and somehow The Great Satan (aka USA LOL) would be blamed.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • (yawn)

      ... meh

      October 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  3. rosie

    Oh it is a good thing it got delayed. I was fearing riots int he streets by angry Christians. The Iranian embassies around the world would have had to raise security to keep angry Christian terrorists out. We are lucky this time. Those Christian riots are so bad.

    October 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  4. jj

    Christians don't need to be afraid of whether Jesus was married or not...what does it matter? It would have been more normal for a Jew in those days to have been married than to be single....especially by that late age.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Lee

      Jesus, I believe, was 30+ when he died. A jew living at that time who would have been either married or gay. You choose.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • rosie

      It matters because the bible implied that he was NOT married. What else is the bible wrong about then?????

      October 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Chad

      @rosie "It matters because the bible implied that he was NOT married"

      =>no it doesnt

      what chapter/verse are you referring to?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  5. Eric

    I agree with the vatican that this is a fake. I disagree with everything else they believe in.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • billym67

      What, you don't like power, money and little boys?

      October 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Sagian

      It may very well be a fake. I think chances are high.... but what if it's not. How is the Vatican and every other religious cult going to explain it away? It would prove interesting if it were authentic.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • neoritter

      It won't affect the Vatican much. It's not canonical so it won't change doctrine. Even if it did, the main reason for priest celibacy was to prevent corruption and undue influence because of family relations; and to prevent an offspring from trying to claim ownership of a church or church property.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Johnny

      Even if it isn't a fake, the fragment of a phrase is "Jesus said My wife", and dates to the 4th century.

      As various commentators have pointed out, that sentence could end any number of ways that don't include Jesus actually having a wife. The implications of the fragment are also limited by the period it dates to, and the fact that it isn't in Greek even allows for the possibility that this fragment of a sentence is the result of a mistake in translation.

      Looking at this objectively, there is no way to draw any meaningful conclusion from this text, even if it isn't a fake.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • PGVikingDad

      Sagian, Mormons believe Christ was married. Always have. Does this prove Mormons are right? Or that Catholics and other similar sects are wrong? Or neither? Yeah, probably neither.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  6. wolfpackbob

    Oh no, there will be Christians rioting at our embassy in Rome! Will President Obama will be scheduling another Rose Garden fiasco? Stay tuned for our UN ambassador to address the General Assembly on the horrors of religious intolerance. Secretary Clinton will take the blame.

    Who cares, CNN? Only the trolls.

    October 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • niknak

      And who took the blame for Bush and 9/11?
      Your repubs are great at pointing the finger at Dems when anything goes wrong in the world, but never seem to take blame for yourselves.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  7. UncleJohn

    The words to the left and right of "my wife" are "take" and "please!"

    October 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  8. Stuart

    It is interesting that the scholers have not said anything about the religious tenant at that time. When a (Jewish) male reaches manhood (generally 13) he undergoes the "Right of Passage". At that time he is mated. If he goes beyond 14 he is considered unacceptable. Yes Joshua Ben Joseph had a wife and begot offspring. Through the centuries his line lives today. What's so hard about acceptance of the fact?

    October 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • bstump

      Yeah, because Jesus was clearly about conforming to society, lol.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • rk

      If that is the case and that is a part of the Hebrew tradition then Why would Jesus Diciples hide that fact, if it is a part of there traditions? Peter, and John would not have hidden the fact that Jesus was married, because Jesus never said marraige was wrong, only thing he preached against was divorce. Why would the diciples hide that fact. MAtter of fact why would Jewish historian like Josephus and other hide it if Jesue was married?

      You would think the Pharise and other temple leaders would mention it also, the only person that talked about Jesus relationship with women was Paul who I beleive said that he wasn't married and the reason why he never got married was because of Jesus.

      If Jewish Boys were suppose to get married at 14 Why didn't Paul get married, he was raised in the temple?

      October 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      What utter rubbish.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  9. David G.

    I am a Christian and yet,I don't find it offensive to suggest that Jesus could have been married to Mary Magdalene or anyone else. In ancient times, a person couldn't be considered a teacher or prophet unless he were married. Knowing this was a fact I asked my Christian College professors in 1986: "if Jesus was single, Why was he considered a teacher or prophet by those who heard him?" I almost get kicked out of college because of that question. NOTE: Still today, many Christian denominations will not appoint a single man as pastor of a church. A man can have a Doctorate of Divinity Degree, and if he's single, it is unlikely that he will be appointed to lead a congregation, except as a music director. (Not even as a youth pastor)

    October 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • niknak

      That should be yet another indicator that religion is not for being a better person, but for being a better conformist.
      I have learned that the thing religious leaders hate the most is to be questioned.
      You should do it more often and maybe you will rethink your whole position on this myth.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  10. popseal

    Amazing what straws people will grab in hope of supporting their unrepentant, unregenerate, reprobate lives.............

    October 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  11. Gerri

    All learned Christians know that the Bride of Christ is not some woman but the church itself. People who are trying to foist the Jesus had a wife nonsense is just trying to undermine the faith and destroy the deity.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • dj

      Yes we know...and they dont see how it will ultimately affect them if it already hasnt.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • niknak

      "All learned Xtians...."
      Now there is an oxymoron.
      One cannot be "learned" if they still believe in 2000 year old goat herder fables.
      It is cute when a young child has an imaginary friend, but creepy when a adult does.......

      October 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Silly1

      Lol, you say that like anyone who has ever posted on this site is remotely intelligent.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Blanket statements about several hundred million people only reflects
      Your own ignorance, niknak.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • niknak

      When you fundies can find some actual proof of your sky fairy friend, then you can come and say I am ignorant for not believing.
      Until then, your god-myth hypothesis is nothing and is considered false.
      But keep wasting your time believing in it.
      If children need a security blanket, then I guess some adults need one as well......

      October 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      I'm not a fundie. They are only one group that identifies as Chrisitan. And a minority at that. See this is my point about ignorance.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • niknak

      If you believe in imaginary beings, (like polrtigists), then you are a fundie.
      You can't be just a little bit god. It is like beig a little bit pregnant.
      Once you cross into the land of insanity, your are a fundie.
      And someone who scares me, because you can't have a rational discussion with the insane.
      All religious people are like Pitt bulls to me, one never knows when they will snap and start to kill, all to show you how much the love god and follow jesus' teachings.
      I bet you own a gun.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Silly1

      LMAO....he smells like a troll, comments like a troll...logically he is therefore....Niknak!

      October 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • niknak

      A troll is someone who posts some infamitory remark then runs away.
      I have been on this board now for over a year, and am still waiting for you "believers" to come up with any proof of the myth that you cling too.
      Still waiting.........

      October 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      I don't own a gun but I bet you grew up with fundamentalist. No one will have a rational discussion with you until you figure out what words mean. Your statement about all believers in God are fundies is simply a wrong statement. Hence your ignorance and inability to have a rational discussion.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • niknak

      Did not grow up with them, but work with them now.
      I see no difference between them, or catholics or hindus or any other sect of people who believe in made up beings.
      You are all Taliban to me.
      When you go down the road of believing in fairy tales, then it is all or nothing.
      And I know why you fundies don't want to have a conversation with me.
      I have challenged you to come up with some verifieable proof of your god hypothesis, and you can't.
      And you never will.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Silly1

      Hehe, I'm still waiting for the brilliant mind of Niknak to learn how to spell check. Logic and reason are probably hanging out with grammar in the "ain't ne'er gunna happen" category. BTW, I never stated if I agree or disagree with what you are trying to say. All I am saying is that you sound like my 7 year old. You are waiting for a reasoned explanation but show no signs whatsoever of being reasonable.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • gheezy

      when asked for scientific proof on god, there is no answer. You foolish ones who continue to believe in fables and a fairy god cannot provide any proof but the so called holy books. When writing papers, there needs to be proof to back up theories, yet you reference holy books that have been re-edited over time to suit the needs of those telling you to believe. You can say i'm not going to heaven but to hell, but i'm not scared. There is no devil or hell, only evil delusional people who use religion to control the lives of others. Provide proof, if you cant then all gods are deemed false.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Silly1

      Not every theory in science can be proven and many can't even be tested.

      Gheezy – what you are saying is scientifically inaccurate.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Can't go one single paragraph without word loading can you? It's your God given right to be intolerant. I hope you find peace for whatever burden that's made you so angry. Its a terrible existence to be isolated by intolerance, and ignorance.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • niknak

      I have not said one thing that was angry or intollerant. Maybe my spelling is not the greatest, but I am doing about three things at once. Sorry for the errors in spelling, happy?
      Look, believe all you want in god. It's your time, use it the way you want.
      What I and all the others who choose NOT to believe want is for you (not you personally, but you collectively), is to stop pushing it on us in the form of laws and reguluations and in medicine.
      Howl all you want at the moon, but stop trying to force the rest of us to howl along with you.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Gheezy there's nothing in Science that says a God is impossible. Ironically "string theory", the most recent attempt at a theory of everything can't even exist without scientist believing in entire dimensions(up to 8) they can neither observe or experiment in. So I'm not seeing a really big difference at this point, when you have to invent unobservable dimensions just to properly describe the world.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      a deity that can be destroyed is no deity

      October 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      I can agree on that point niknak, we live in a very diverse country and it should be advanced based on sound judgement. But I feel the current issues in regions like the bible belt have to do with the poor state of education in general and not necessarily the prevalence of churches. Both can exist without major conflict.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Silly1

      Laws and regulations are made by people out for their own benefit. You can group them by religion, race, gender, age, etc. All are the same and all of them try and force their agenda on everyone.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      True, but we are also grouped by nationality and statehood. There will always be special interest but I think we get things right more often than not. Sometimes things take time to change, but the fact that we all can have a voice, regardless of belief has been this countries greatest asset.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • gheezy

      god defies science is what you're saying. the heavens originally meant sky until space was discovered. so where do you fly up to? another dimension? we all no science can be false but what is true has been proven to be true, what is false is determined false with proof backing it up. but go ahead believe in god, remain ignorant to others who do not believe in what you do. WW3 is inevitable and you will see that because most of the world continues to believe any religions, that the time will come, where you all will start a war over it.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Science is a construct, an intellectual activity that helps us define the world in terms we can understand and communicate to others. It in and of itself is subject to the limits of our understanding. We may be no more able to understand God than a monkey could understand algebra. Yes, if a being like God exist he defies our limited understanding of the universe we define as science, not because science is wrong, but because God would understand at a higher level than we are capable.

      October 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  12. Kweso

    I know Jesus. I was there when the boy got killed. I tried to warn him. I said: Boy, don't go messing with them Jews without no money.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Richard Pryor called. He wants his act back.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  13. Cars

    Funny how the Shroud of Turin was found to be a fake dating 1000 years after jesus' death, and the Vatican dismissed that. But before this has even been tested, the Vatican has already dismissed it as a fake.

    Once you realize that jesus didn't actually exist, useless things like this become funny.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • earthshoes44

      I don't think anyone out there is disputing the existence of Jesus. Even the Jews acknowledge that he was a real person, they simply don't believe he's the Messiah. And,fyi, not that it matters to my faith one way or another, but the Shroud of Turin has never been proven to be a fake.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      There is ample evidence from the writings of historians of the period that Jesus did, in fact, exist. Atheists can keep denying this all they want, but it does not change the archeological and historical record. The only thing which is debatable is whether or not He was divine, and no one is denying the atheists the right to believe what they choose to believe. Some of my oldest friends are atheists, but not one of them is as arogant and smugly superior as the ones who post here. Fortunately, there are only a few who wrap themselves in their smug "logic" and parade around giving themselves airs of superiority. Most of the atheists that I have known all my life have the love and tolerance in their lives that Jesus preached and don't constantly castigate others for their beliefs. The ones who do this are a minority.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • IntelligentSoldier

      Actually their is proof that Jesus did exist. Their is also evidence to show that he went by the name Yusef and traveled to Casmire to learn buddahist teachings from the age of around 14 to his early 30s. His teachings are in line with that of buddahist principles.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Old_Hippie

      I have often asked my Christian friends to point me to historical references outside of the bible that even talk about the existance of Jesus from the time in which he lived. Responses to date – zero. Not only that, but as far as I have been able to find, there was never any roman ruler called Pontius Pilot either in any known roman records. I am willing to listen, but I need some proof. I do believe that the teachings have value in how to live together and that is all I have taken away from "The Greatest Story Ever Told".

      October 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maybe you should have looked for Pontius Pilate;

      The sources for Pilate's life are the four canonical gospels, Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, a brief mention by Tacitus, and an inscription known as the Pilate Stone, which confirms his historicity and establishes his tiitle as prefect. Based on these sources, it appears that Pilate was an equestrian of the Pontii family, and succeeded Valerius Gratus as prefect of Judaea in AD 26. Once in his post he offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects, leading to harsh criticism from Philo and Josephus. According to Josephus,[4] he was ordered back to Rome after harshly suppressing a Samaritan uprising, arriving just after the death of Tiberius, which occurred on 16 March in 37 AD. He was replaced by Marcellus.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  14. Rational Libertarian

    Yep, another meaningless soundbite.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  15. Sly

    Just got back from lunch, but somehow no one has explained the Great Dinosaur Conspiracy yet.

    I am quite naive, because I read today on this web site that they arrested someone for smuggling bones from 66 million years ago.

    But, if God created earth 9000 years ago ... um ... heck, I never will understand who made all those fake dinosaur bones and buried them all over the world. (But, I'm looking into allegations that it was Lance Armstrong).

    But folks, "no Dinosaur explantion, no God", pretty simple, Can't have both.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Cars

      Couldn't agree more. Creationists have an excuse for everything, with no backed up evidence. They are the dumbest of the dumb.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      All creationist are Christian. But every Christian isn't a creationist.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • UncleJohn

      Dwarves made the dinosaur bones. They're great practical jokers.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Poltergiest

      Yeah it's a shame what happened to the dwarves.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  16. james hotz

    Jesus was married to Mary Magdaline, his closest deciple. Mary left for England with Joseph of Armatheia, to escape persecution from the Jews.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Sunflower

      Agree with you, but she went to France, where she had her daughter Sarah.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • TFC

      Mary and Jesus lived their days out in France. But she was his wife and they did have children.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  17. duffey

    This is bkasphemy! All true Christian believers gather and storm the Libyan consulate!!!

    October 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  18. Joe george

    It is false comment to write about our Jesus, I think people just don't think what they say or write about Jesus. You need to understand that Jesus has made so many miracles, cured blind, lame, leprosy, turn water into wine. what else you need to know. I can just keep on writing good things about Jesus.Remember Jesus has a power to punish you if you talk or write false things about him but also remember that Jesus has a good heart to forgive you. So dear brothers and Sisters we all need to Love our Jesus. He is our SAVIOUR........

    October 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • billym67

      You are delusional....and, apparently, you have never actually read the Bible.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • cmiller

      Did you see the water that was turned into wine? Do you personally know the people who wrote the bible? There are lots of facts i would like to know, and not because it is written in a book. I have always been taught not to believe everything you read, and that seeing is believing..and with the way the world is, the pain and suffering by millions and millions, the hate among people..If He is real, why is the world going to hell in a hand basket?

      October 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  19. SurfDoggenalong

    Taken out of context. Statement was Jesus telling a joke. You dont have all the statement:
    "My wife went tot he doctor and came hame and said The doctor sysas I have the breasts of an 18 year old women, I said "did he ask you about your 30 year old ass?" " She said: Nope, your name never came up".

    see?

    October 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  20. Martin

    Another thing being suppressed by religion, what a surprise

    They wouldn't want people to, you know, be able to examine the evidence themselves and make their own decision. Can't have that.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Silly1

      Uhm...so the fragment is not in the possession of any religious group and is currently being tested by independent scientists. I can see how that looks like religious suppression. What kind of glasses are those?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • doesnotmatter

      @Silly1
      The kind of suppression of truth which makes them discredit the papyrus as fake before it is tested.

      October 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
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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.