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'Jesus Wife' fragment gets more testing, delays article
A scholarly article based on the 'Jesus Wife' fragment was delayed as researchers waited on further testing.
January 3rd, 2013
02:30 PM ET

'Jesus Wife' fragment gets more testing, delays article

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - One of the most anticipated articles in religion circles will be absent from the pages of the January edition of the Harvard Theological Review. Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King's final article on the "Jesus wife" fragment did not make the scholarly journal because further testing on the Coptic papyrus fragment has not been finished.

King announced the findings of the 1.5-by-3 inch, honey-colored fragment in September at the International Association for Coptic Studies conference in Rome. In a draft version of the article submitted for publication in the January edition, King and her co-author said the scrap had written in Coptic, a language used by Egyptian Christians, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife," but was then cut off.

King said the fragment dates to the 4th century but could be a copy of an early gospel from the 2nd century.  King and her research partners dubbed the hypothetical text "the Gospel of Jesus' Wife."

Despite King's insistence, the discovery did not prove anything definitive on the marital status of Jesus.

The announcement of the papyrus scrap exploded in the media.

"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 [Jesus] was married or not," King told reporters in a conference call from Rome in September.

5 questions and answers about Jesus' 'wife'

A dealer took the fragment to King for analysis and translation in 2011. The dealer wishes to remain anonymous, she said.

"We're moving ahead with the testing, but it is not yet complete, and so the article will await until we have the results," King said in an email to CNN.

"The owner of the fragment has been making arrangements for further testing and analysis of the fragment, including testing by independent laboratories with the resources and specific expertise necessary to produce and interpret reliable results. This testing is still underway," Kathyrn Dodgson, director of communications for the Harvard Divinity School, said in a email to CNN.

"Harvard Theological Review is planning to publish Professor King’s paper after conclusion of all the testing so that the results may be incorporated," Dodgson said. "Until testing is complete, there is nothing more to say at this point."

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In her original article King explained how a papyrus expert had dated the fragment to the right time frame and how an expert on Coptic linguistics said the grammar seemed to fit the time period, as well.  But what was untested in the early goings was the ink used on the papyrus.

Elaine Pagels, a professor from Princeton University who is an expert on gnostic writings such as this one, noted to CNN in September "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."

Faking antiquities is not uncommon, which is part of the reason so many critics questioned the authenticity of a text that potentially went against nearly every other ancient text concerning Jesus. Other scholars refused to comment on the find until the full battery of testing could be completed.

“The academic community has been badly burned,” Douglas A. Campbell, an associate professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School said in September, noting how similar discoveries have turned out to be fakes.  The provenance of the document, "the history of where it came from and how they got it,” was a great concern to Campbell and other academics.

The Vatican newspaper weighed in on the matter in late September mincing no words and calling the fragment “a fake.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

On the day King announced the fragment, the Smithsonian channel announced it had been working with King for months on a documentary about the find and the authentication process.  It had been slated to air in early October but was pulled back.

Tom Hayden, general manager of the Smithsonian channel, said in a statement in October  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."

No announcement has been made as to when the premier will happen.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Vatican

soundoff (1,768 Responses)
  1. Science

    At its best here and peer reviewed .No go-d(s) required. Proven right here on this tread!!!

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/17/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-thursday-january-17-2013/comment-page-2/#comment-2107898

    January 18, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  2. ???????

    Reviewing the comments noticed someting interesting. Science PROVED it does not work the way the bible said it did !!!
    All the facts are here on this tread. Peer reviewed !!!
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/17/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-thursday-january-17-2013/#comments

    January 18, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  3. Observer

    You see that atheists..there is proof. The headline clearly states someone found a fragment of Jesus's wife.

    🙂

    January 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • meifumado

      Atheist's do not doubt that there may have been a historical figure by the name of Jesus,
      It's the fairy tales of his super natural powers we do not believe in.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Observer

      It was just a joke...a fragment..of a wife...? (sigh) okay well it was funny to me.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • small 'c' christian

      It's ok, I got it.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:51 am |
  4. Aldewacs

    Interesting ploy: talk about whether a mythical figure's wife existed, to move the discussion away from whether the mythical figure itself existed.
    Do not be concerned about the man behind the curtain ....

    January 16, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  5. Science

    This doc-umentary states it has the smoking gun. Jan 9 2013
    PBS Nova Decoding Neanderthals doc-umentary
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nH1fqd0Ryo&w=640&h=360]

    January 16, 2013 at 7:44 am |
  6. Wrathbrow

    If a scroll was found that said Jesus killed a man in rage, you just know some of the faithful would find a creative way to explain why it does not really change anything. That is what faith is, a promise to belief in something regardless of any other information. Only when people are ready to be open to questioning ideas and belief can real discussion begin. That is not what most faithful people are looking for, they are looking answers that make them feel better.

    January 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  7. A Reasoner

    When the Shroud was determined to be a fake, didn't the Vatican claim it's authenticity wasn't important and it's "true" meaning was? So let's see, if an artifact is fake and supports the church's claim it's a fake truth, but if it's fake and doesn't support the church claim it's a true fake. "It's Only Make Believe" Conway Twitty - 1958.

    January 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • utalkintome

      great song!

      January 16, 2013 at 3:37 am |
  8. Paul

    Lol More junk to read

    January 15, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  9. WillieLove

    this is made up by the RCC....

    January 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  10. lol??

    Jimi the evangelist,

    ""There must be some kind of way out of here,"
    Said the joker to the thief,
    "There's too much confusion,
    I can't get no relief.'

    January 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      It was from Zimmy the Jew before it was Jimi the evangelist

      January 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  11. Beloved

    Your great grand father never existed. You grand father lied to your father about him and so has your father lied to you about him.

    Now, that is not a fair statement to make, is it? You know you had a great great great great to the nth term grand father. You don't have to have a proof, you just believed it, otherwise how is it that you are here reading this.

    You may not believe in Jesus, no problem. I use to be just a believer in Jesus, but now, I have graduated. I now not only believe in Him, but I also know Him personally. He is my Lord and savior.

    He answers prayers, He talks to me. I asked him to abide with me, be my Lord and Savior, my Friend, my Father, save sinners, heal a dying man, raise almost dead child, heal tumors, provide and protect....He answered me and much more. He can do the same for 'whosoever'. That you believe or not has nothing to do with it.

    I am a multi-millionaire by the way, but you don't have to believe it. It has nothing to do with my bank account. I hope this simple truth gets you thinking.

    Jesus Christ Bless you....Amen.

    January 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Secret Asian Man

      I am an International Man Of Mystery. See? Anyone can lie on the internet. With one phrase you just rendered you whole post laughable and unbelievable.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Todd

      Hey Beloved you'll be going to hell because rich men aren't welcomed there.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Beloved

      ha ha ha....oh secret asian man....ha ha ha. I hope you read my post. Here read again...

      Your unblief has nothing to do with the reality.

      I sincerely think this is a simple enough statement. No one is forcing you to believe. When you are getting upset about someone else's claim, it seems you have some vested interest. Do you? Believe it or leave it, no one is forcing you to.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Beloved

      Dear Todd,

      unfortunately, your opinion is irrelevant in that call....ha ha ha. It's all mine and God's. Actually, it's all mine. God already gave me Chrsit (1John 5:11), All I need to do (and not only me, but whosoever wills) is believe and the eternal life is mine. Now, how cool is that?!

      Hey sweetheart, there is room for you...believe and be saved.

      Jesus Christ Himself, loves you dearly.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Beloved

      Congrats, not only are you showing exceeding amounts of arrogance, but you are also admitting that you believe in a god that cares about belief more than actions, reverance instead of goodness, and plays favorites. Your god is immoral.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Surely that should be "Secret Agent Man", the Johnny Rivers classic.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I presume you have evidence of those miracles performed at your behest? With your connections you could solve the world's problems in a few prayer sessions. Let us know when you've done that. Better still provide a schedule of prayer so we can verify prayer with problem solved.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Really??

      RL
      Stop calling him shirley.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      Ironic that you seek eternity with a being from whom you have to be saved

      January 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      The world would be a far worse place if it weren't for Airplane!.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • lol??

      The mob responds.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Really??

      RL
      Roger .Over.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • lol??

      Girly socialistic mobster bullies.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I know you're a troll but I'd be interested to hear you explain how pointing out to somebody who claims they know God is crazy is either girly, socialistic, mobsterish or bullying.

      January 14, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • utalkintome

      well for someone who has studied this for the last 9 years, i can tell you when god talks to you, you have a mental disorder....probably a mild form of schizophrenia or bi polar disorder....exactly the same brain patterns....your a multi millionaire...who cares...i'm a Ph.D of anthropology and behaviorial sciences....unless your making your millions helping move mankind forward, you are useless....

      January 16, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • Dippy

      Beloved, how can you be a multimillionaire and not know how to spell grandfather?

      January 16, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • meifumado

      I am a high priest of the dread lord Yog-Sothoth and my master demands blood and souls as sacrifice

      You will never know the exquisite suffering of his love

      January 18, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  12. sami khan

    To my Christian brothers and sisters, please as a devout Muslim I have to respectfully say to you all that show respect to your Prophet, he is our prophet too and we as Muslims have mighty respect for him. Even to show doubt on him is a matter grave ,we are suppose to show our love n respect to him, we have to get ready for his second coming on earth and we should wait for him in good intention. Our comments on matters that do not concern us are disrespectful.

    January 14, 2013 at 5:09 am |
    • Really??

      While I may respect you as a man, it is difficult to respect beliefs based on myth. If you feel it is disrespectful to voice an opinion, then you are ready for religion. Religion is not the way to find truth, it is only mens lies to try to fill in mans own ignorance.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • utalkintome

      keep drinking the kool aid

      January 16, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • Aldewacs

      @Sami: .. and that is the thin edge of the wedge... and how it starts.
      First you admonish people about making statements that are not "respectful" of your delusion.
      Next ...
      It's a short trip to torture, Spanish Inquisition and suicide bombings of polio vaccination stations.

      Why don't you lighten up, and ask for proof. Tangible proof. You know, the kind that is real.

      January 16, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • meifumado

      Sorry pal but we do not have to respect religion
      As a matter of fact religion must be questioned at all times
      If your beliefs are strong surely the mere words of a unbeliever will not bother you
      Whats the matter? you have doubts of your imaginary friends power?
      Insults should be beneath such a being if it existed

      January 18, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • meifumado

      The prophet the muslims call mohammad was an illiterate pedophile who plagiarized the 3 main religions of the area in order to invent his own religion to control all the peoples he conquered

      January 18, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  13. escap0

    Jesus was a man. He was born as a man, bled like a man, and died as a man. The man became a myth, the myth became a legend, and now we have magical books telling us magical stories. This is very similar to St. Nick who ran an orphanage in southern Turkey...but we don't go around spewing lies that Santa Clause is real. You can't reason someone out of a position they never reasoned themselves into. Faith means to believe without the requirement of proof. So some people believe, some people do not, but the truth does not require anyones belief. The end.

    January 13, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Gir

      There is no physical evidence of his existence. All we have is a baseless concensus by modern theologians that he existed. I suspect this consensus was only reached so theologians could remain employed.

      January 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Interesting

      Well that and intuitive reasoning

      January 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • Beloved

      Your great grand father never existed. You grand father lied to your father about him and so has your father lied to you about him.

      Now, that is not a fair statement to make, is it? You know you had a great great great great to the nth term grand father. You don't have to have a proof, you just believed it, otherwise how is it that you are here reading this.

      You may not believe in Jesus, no problem. I use to be just a believer in Jesus, but now, I have graduated. I now not only believe in Him, but I also know Him personally. He is my Lord and savior.

      He answers prayers, He talks to me. I asked him to abide with me, be my Lord and Savior, my Friend, my Father, save sinners, heal a dying man, raise almost dead child, heal tumors, provide and protect....He answered me and much more. He can do the same for 'whosoever'. That you believe or not has nothing to do with it.

      I am a multi-millionaire by the way, but you don't have to believe it. It has nothing to do with my bank account. I hope this simple truth gets you thinking.

      Jesus Christ Bless you....Amen.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Chuck

    jesus said "my wife can beat up your wife"

    January 13, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  15. lennoxlaw

    Jesus Christ (Yeshua) is God's son and was sent to earth SOLEY for one purpose and one purpose only: to die for our sins so that those whom believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.....he was not married.

    January 13, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • j s

      just like mitra was, i guess, and he was around years and years before the christ, and guess what, he was also born of a virgin, died for ur sins and risen from the grave, wierd uh.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Althalus

      You have no idea if he was married. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that he wasn't. Nor has there been anything that proves that he was. Be honest and admit, no one really knows if he was or not. Even if he was married, it really doesn't change anything, except for the Catholics perhaps, but they also worship Mary so.... LOL

      January 14, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • sam stone

      do you seriously desire eternal life?

      January 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  16. thegadfly

    Jesus couldn't have had a wife. He was gay, remember?

    January 13, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • hifly3r

      Yep. Soooo gay.

      January 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  17. Bob

    Does it really make any difference if Jesus took a wife, as would have been normal and expected?
    He was also most likely crucified on a single vertical piece of wood, rather than a cross which only cams into popular use during the third to fourth century. Do either item make his followers beliefs more or less likely?

    January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Of course it matters. Ya can't have the alleged son of god rutting with women like a mere mortal!

      January 13, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • Timmuh

      If you want to run with probabilities then Romans didn't give executed prisoner's bodies back.

      January 13, 2013 at 4:59 am |
    • uhuh

      No it doesn't make them less likely. They're already about as unlikely as they could get.

      Maybe what it does is wake up believers to the point where they start to realize that these are just stories. Stories that have been heavily edited to conform with a particular viewpoint.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Tim

      He was hooking up with Mary Magdelene...could have been her.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  18. elgeevz

    I don't know about Jesus, but my understanding is that all other Hebrew rabbis have been married.

    January 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • s. gaudett

      Yes, there is much evidence that Mary Magdellan was his wife and the 'Holy Grail" was thought to be their child.

      January 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  19. meifumado

    Good point about the letter J, lets see when they date the ink what happens.

    January 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  20. firehawk17

    this is quite comical... jesus now has a wife?? there werent even records that jesus himself ever lived smh...this is crazy i tell you... jesus story has been told millennia before this guy comes up.. furthermore the letter j wasnt even in existence. this whole thing is a parfait of lies..

    January 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • fatherheathen

      The story of Christ itself is a lie.

      January 12, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Lisa

      Not to mention the full quote might have been a joke that began: Jesus said, "My wife, if I had one, ..."

      January 13, 2013 at 10:12 am |
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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.