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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. thedarkelf

    This is more Propaganda from Jews, It does not say anything about the son of god it is about a man named Jesus. OH and Im looking for the nearest Afgan consulate or church and causing a riot and maybe the leader will be killed. Because I think its important to follow Muslim examples. They rioted and killed one of ours over a spoof film so If a film comes out about Jesus Im off.

    October 21, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • rick

      do yourself and go meet jesus

      October 21, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  2. gibsonsdad

    Blah, blah, blah, yakkity smack.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  3. palintwit

    I'm beginning to believe that Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, taking care to speak to only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation once again but first we must all follow the Palin Path.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Foundstar

      Get medical attention...NOW!!

      October 21, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • ConcernedC

      I hope you are being sarcastic, if not, go get your head out of the toilet!!

      October 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  4. Carole Clarke

    Every male Jew is expected to marry and father children at some point in his life. Divorce is allowed but not participating in the family-making process is frowned upon. So is martyrdom and suicide. The reason is simple – there are so many other people ready to do the deed to relieve Jews of life, liberty and property. In Jesus' time men were expected to marry and become fathers so that should not come as a surprize. But isn't the main point his teachings? Too many of these so-called Christian churches are more invested in their own doctrine and church business than his teachings. Some of his ideas were truly radical yet tempered with humanity. Turn the other cheek. In a country dominated by powerful Romans who were ruthless in their administration and backed by Jewish authorities that wanted to keep their power, he advocated tolerance – very dangerous for those times. Yet he lost his temper in one of the outer courts of the Temple, smashing money-changers tables, yelling at bystanders. With the Romans he put one of their own coins up under their nose and drew the line – render unto Caesar... Yet he cured a Roman soldiers slave when the Roman asked and even forgave everyone who had participated in what was his very painful death. He was inclusive yet churches today say it's their way or the highway. Churches today are kitted out as businesses, needing your money. But if you live by his teachings you will live a good life and you won't need any church to tell you so.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • thedarkelf

      I dont care what Jews have to say on the subject. Or you for that matter either

      October 21, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • ConcernedC

      I completely agree with you Carole. Too many modern Mega-churches it is all about their dogmas and interpretation of Christianity and most definitely about their business, I am disillusioned. They have a very Western style Capitalistic interpretation of Christiantiy, and many of them are very hateful and exclusionary – quite the opposite of what Jesus really taught. Love thy Neighbour, Help the Needy and Turn the other cheek seems to be completely lost on these Mega-Churches – they are such shams!!

      October 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  5. Carole Clarke

    Every male Jew is expected to marry and father children at some point in his life. Divorce is allowed but not participating in the family-making process is frowned upon. So is martyrdom and suicide. The reason is simple – there are so many other people ready to do the deed to relileve Jews of life, liberty and property. In Jesus' time men were expected to marry and become fathers so that should not come as a surprize. But isn't the main point his teachings? Too many of these so-called Christian churches are more invested in their own doctrine and church business than his teachings. Some of his ideas were truly radical yet tempered with humanity. Turn the other cheek. In a country dominated by powerful Romans who were ruthless in their administration and backed by Jewish authorities that wanted to keep their power, he advocated tolerance – very dangerous for those times. Yet he lost his temper in one of the outer courts of the Temple, smashing money-changers tables, yelling at bystanders. With the Romans he put one of their own coins up under their nose and drew the line – render unto Caesar... Yet he cured a Roman soldiers slave when the Roman asked and even forgave everyone who had participated in what was his very painful death. He was inclusive yet churches today say it's their way or the highway. Churches today are kitted out as businesses, needing your money. But if you live by his teachings you will live a good life and you won't need any church to tell you so.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Todd

      Carole,

      It seems you take what you want from what Jesus taught. I could be wrong, but this is what I am getting from what I have read. Jesus also said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me." This is exclusive language used by Jesus himself. Jesus also said, "Before Abraham was, I am." a clear indication that he was telling them he was and is God. Jesus would not be a good man, nor would he be anything special if what he said about who he was, was a lie.

      What do you accept as what came from Jesus? Do you have standard for that? If so, what is it?

      October 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  6. Jeff

    You know when you pluck the bellybutton lint out of your navel and drop it into the toilet and it spins 'round and 'round before it takes off across the water like a little speed boat? That's call ESD, Electro Static Discharge. It's just like religion, molecules and God particles doing what naturally comes right.....

    October 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  7. palintwit

    Teabaggers believe that nascar is a real sport and that Dale Earnhardt was a great American athlete.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  8. Heyzeus Sanchez

    I have to ask. How do they know it is referring to Jesus Christ? Surely, there is more than one Jesus living in the area.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • saggyroy

      Remember, writing back then was pretty expensive, not many people could, so it was probably reserved for important people and events.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Carole Clarke

      The name Jesus is the westernization of how the Jews back then pronounced Joshua – Yeshua. By the time the writings got into the west from the SE Med area the pronunciation had changed to suit the linguistics of the people there. The point also made here about only important people and events meriting a comment in writing or masonry (ossuaries, containers for bones left after the body had deteriorated while lying in caves) is also worthy of note. Who was this "Jesus" mentioned at that time? I wonder if the Vatican library has any written artifacts from that time period – prison lists from the Antonia Fortess, lists of executions, private letters written y important Romans like Pilate? We just have to keep digging.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. Analyzer

    I would like my Muslim friends to please focus on this articles and see how other cultures and people mock Christianity as much as they can, even to the point of blind hate. But see my friends the Christian community will not act in violence or intolerance, if it is their opinion let them have it, what is important is what you believe. Please do forgive and let go, of what other people say of your cultural or religious beliefs. Peace with all, even the one that Hate Christians.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • SML5

      Analyzer: Yeah, 'cuz Christians have never caused violence, bloodshed, war, or discrimination. Are you a space cadet? Christians are just as intolerant and controlling as any other cult. Why not be honest?

      October 20, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Analyzer

      I am referring to todays's Christian and not to what Christian did in the past, ( who where Christian really in name and not much more).

      October 20, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • old golfer

      Hey analyzer, just who do you think was in Korea, Viet Nam and presently in Iraq and Afghanistan? Come on, get real, all religions kill. Besides, this article was about a wife for your Jesus. Could be you know. God gave man reason. Man gave man religion.

      October 20, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      Apparently Ana.lyzer missed the news about the murder of muslims by christians during the Bosnian Genocide during the 1990s, or the current situation in Africa, where christians are accusing people of witchcraft, then killing them. Of course, he/she will probably say that they "aren't real christians", which is the standard excuse made when christians don't behave in a way that supports the initial claim.

      October 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Analyzer

      Just because you do not agree it does not mean you have to disqualify people that belief otherwise. In any case I see many holes in your arguments, such a witchcraft accusation or Bosnia, this are because you are not searching for the truth. Until you open your hearts to the truth, you will believe your own lies. May God have mercy on your souls.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:21 am |
  10. LOYAL NORTHERN DEMOCRAT

    The problem is that they keep wanting to make it the sequel to Broke Back Mountain and call it Stump Broke Canyan and give the proceeds to Obama.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  11. Henny Youngman

    Jesus said to them, 'My wife [,taketh her, please!]

    October 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • James C Edgar

      That is really funny.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  12. Realist

    jeus had a wife, huh? Sure makes the pope, cardinals and bishops look silly in their dresses.

    October 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  13. Dave

    Most writers evince NO knowledge of the era in which Yeshua lived. Yeshua would have been a partner in a pre-arranged marriage and wed after his Bar Mitzvah. His refusal would have meant rejection from the entire community and their attachment to the Hebrew laws of that era. Or maybe he was gay.

    There was no town of Nazareth in Jesus era, it was a rocky point with no water populated about 100 years after Jesus death. Jesus was a Nazorean. (political insurgent)

    The Romans ONLY crucified political opponents. That Pilate refers to Jesus as a King indicates that they were aware of his revolution.

    If indeed there was a gathering of Jews before Pilate, there werent many. If they called for someone to be released they called for Bar Rabbe (son of the Rabbi). Possibly the reason Judah was in an ossuary.

    With the thousands of edits to the Christian Scriptures over time, not to mention the destruction of hundreds of Gospels which did not meet the needs of the Church, we have no honest view of Yeshua the man.

    The chance that the group in the royal tomb at Talpiot is NOT Yeshua and his family is about 1 in 732,000.

    We know now that the "James ossuary" has the same patina composition as the other ossuaries from the royal tomb and that the inscription is authentic.

    Time to re-evaluate all of this information with an eye towards the truths of history and not the adulterated fables of the Christian Scriptutres.

    October 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Brainiac

      No town in Nazareth in Jesus era? Morons like you should stay out of the conversation.

      October 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Live4Him

      The archeological evidence reveals that Nazareth was inhabited between 900-600 BC, before it was wiped out. However, it became a small farming village around 200 BC has has been inhabited continously ever since.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Also, in your claim that He would have been a partner in a pre-arranged marriage, you've assumed that He came from a wealthy family. This is obviously wrong. The poor (i.e. carpenters) would need to save the money to pay for the bride, much like Abraham did for Isaac (i.e. well after Isaac was an adult).

      October 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      This is complete hogwash. Nazareth most certainly DID exist in Jesus' time and we have quite a lot of knowledge of the period during Jesus lived through the writings of historians such as Josephus and the emminant Roman historian Tacitus to name just two. Another Jesus myth atheist bites the dust!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      Rick Shultz

      "the writings of historians such as Josephus and the emminant Roman historian Tacitus"

      Josephus and Tacitus reported only what the followers of the new cult of Jesus *said* about their hero.

      (another Jesus myth bites the dust, indeed)

      October 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      Keeping it Real

      You are just another slack-eyed atheist like the rest who refuses to accept the fact that Jesus existed. For your information Tacitus did NOT use hearsay from Jesus' he used ROMAN RECORDS!!! And the VAST majority of scholars today ALL accept
      Jesus' existance as corroborated historical FACT. GET OVER IT!!

      October 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      Keeping it real

      I meant to say Tacitus did not use hearsay from Jesus's followers for The Annals. He used Roman Records. He access to PILATE'S OWN RECORDS. And his account of Jesus's crucifiction is accepted by almost every modern scholar. There are only a very few ignorant holdouts like you who still don't believe it, and that's just tough because IT HAPPENED. GET OVER IT!!

      October 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Keeping It Real

      Rick Shultz,

      If Jesus were the real deal there would not be a whit of refutation even possible. If he existed, he left cr@ppy records. GET OVER IT!

      October 21, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • SixDegrees

      How do the Bilderbergers fit into all this?

      October 21, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  14. Spiritualist

    What people don't realize is that Jesus was a product of aritifcial semination between a space man (God) and an earth woman (Mary). When Jesus died his body was transported to the space craft. Jesus did miracles because he had his father's powers. And he promised to come again, so watch the skies!

    October 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Realist

      darn those spacemen.

      October 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  15. Dave

    How could he have a wife? The guy was clearly gay.

    October 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Realist

      maybe he went both ways, orgi-es and stuff with all those guys he hung around. Did I just use the word 'hung'

      October 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Martin

      The wife was just for show. He kept his gay lifestyle secret.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  16. Slammy

    Jesus having a wife makes the story of the man seem more authenticate. Everyone needs love and human companionship, even Christ.

    October 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Reality99

      You should spend more time reading a dictionary.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  17. chaz

    I really dont care if he was married. He came here to live like us, then die for us...
    Marriage is part of living...Jesus made it so we could all live forever

    October 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Damocles

      Living forever would be terribly tedious.

      October 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Stranger walks into town, tells people he is the son of God. Tells people that they were born losers, but believing everything he says will make them winners in the afterlife.

      Somewhat akin to "For a hamburger today, I'll gladly pay you after you die".

      Gullibility factor? High.

      October 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Realist

      you mean, live like us and die like us.

      October 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  18. Dr Eric

    It should also be noted "comrade squiurrel", in case your "Zoological Brain Dysfunction" (from "extra testosterone dosages" has brought you further-down the "Zoological Ladder" than "squirrel" and into the "snake realm" or "reptilian brain realm") that "if it's a fantasy" (THE ONLY WAY TO PREVENT WWIII), in case you haven't read the works, much less studied them......nor want to be held accountable for your "war rhetoric" (at a trillion+ a count, easily) is that would mean that preventing WWIII ("Armageddon") isn't possible, in the "Cycle of Cathay" realities of the world (before the U.S. and the "peaceful/trial resolution" Christ related of with the "12 disciples"...this would mean that "nuking you" (if needed to prevent your debt generation) was justified, so make sure you tell everyone you newfound-fantasy-knowledge (for about 50 miles)....RCCFM: Always(c): Dr. Eric DrEricShow@Gmail.com...Note: If your "handle" had you unidentified and you were "coming at me", like this, to "keep the 'free' conversation going", no offense intended, but, realize that these types of expressions (about the "real thing", not the "concocted for illegal profits sake versions") do have real, reprovable, non-fantasy, consequences......debts/costs...whether they're eliminated by a jury's verdict (trially) or not....and precipitate dually (WW3)...

    October 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  19. palintwit

    White southern evangelical christians, birthers and baggers are no different than the Taliban. One group worships Honey Boo Boo and the other group worships a pedophile prophet. The only difference is that baggers live in trailer parks while the Taliban live in caves. And neither has indoor plumbing.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Palintwitisatwit

      Nice. You are certainly tops in the gene pool as well with such a well thought post.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Realist

      one difference you missed, Palinwit, is that we tamed the christians in this country.

      October 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • fintastic

      "pedophile prophet".............. are you talking about "brother stair"?

      November 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  20. Smitty

    The other possibility however remote might be that this is where Henny Youngman got his joke and Jesus spoke unto the people, "Taketh my wife, please."

    October 19, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Milton Platt

      In the end, none of this matters to anyone. People involved in any of the christian sects wlll believe whatever they want because their beliefs don't depent on logic or facts and those who are free from religious convictions just don't care if the man was married, gay, or otherwise engaged.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
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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.