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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
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(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. Yeah, right!

    "For the last thousand years, we’ve had a celibate clergy."

    Only when someone was looking.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Rabbit, Rabbit

      Thank goodness! I shudder to think of how many more brainwashed zombies there'd be now if these guys had all been out there procreating like crazy!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  2. AlongTheWay

    It's hardly the only questions. But definitively - we still know almost nothing. We can't prove a crime 100% against someone that happened last week and we certainly don't know what happend 2k years ago, even with anything written down. Now, try telling folks that Christmas didn't start as that sort of holiday but one at the farthest end of the spectrem from it. And that Jesus was Human – so may not have only had a wife but (gasp!) a girlfriend or two along the way. And that Mary and Joseph are not the sorts of names you will find in any place he supposedly was born, lived, or died. And goodness, if I see another picture of a blond-haired, blue eyed Jesus depiction, I'll laugh ....again. Have you seen anyone from those regons? NOT Nordic (Or anything close) at all (dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes....all). So just 5 questions? NEWP. I have one more. A HUGE one that most of those out there will be shocked that a HUMAN man had if he had a wife at all - children: if a wife, then did he have children; and who would be in his lineage thereafter??? Chew on that.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Lisa

      People love their fantasies given to them by the catholic/christian church, rarely will they seek TRUTH. Half don't really know what's in the Bible because they don't read it.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • NUMBNUT

      GASP! You mean Jesus could have had S.E.X. Gasp again!

      September 20, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Religion is like public transit

    We're glad other people use it

    September 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  4. doug

    Regarding some of the negative comments, I would remind the the Lamb followers to remember that "darkness hateth the light". Regarding the story, I haven't read all of the articles about this find, nor have I read a translation of the entire script, but I am prompted to ask the question "Which Jesus?" Jesus or Joshua were not uncommon names than, or now. What is prompting the "experts" to assume the reference is to the Jesus of the Bible?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Lisa

      You are so correct! His name was not Jesus when he walked the earth and i'm willing to bet that Jesus is not the name on that script. Joshua or Yeshua (Hebrew) was a common name then just as Joshua is a common name now.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • whew

      good thing you haven't read articles or translations

      September 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  5. Jesus Christ

    Why is everyone so interested in my wife? Keep your hands off of her.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  6. Iesha Kadijah (nick name)

    Very very interesting!!
    Historically and religiously it is a known fact that Jesus did not marry and had no wife. Still many people like to think contrary and want to publish it.
    On the same tocken, Historically and religiously it is a known fact that Mohammad had many wives including 9-year old Iesha. No one dare to discuss this known fact. If someone try to discuss it, people go crazy around the world!!
    Why is that everyone is not affraid to talk untruth about Jesus and VERY AFRAID to talk the truth about Mohammad?
    I understand. Jesus never killed His critics and taught to show the other cheek.
    Before I finish, let me tell you that Jesus DID NOT come to get married.
    Jesus came to lead a sinless life to be punished for the sins of the world as foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • doug

      known fact???? prove it.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Historically and religiously it is a known fact that Jesus did not marry and had no wife"

      you cannot claim that in any way, shape or form, thats a ridiculous claim.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • sonic

      Isn't it strange that no Muslim ever degrades Jesus when you judgmental Christians are quick to jump on anything with Prophet Muhammad ?

      The reason is we believe in Jesus as a mighty Prophet. We even believe in his immaculate conception by Mary and that he gave life to the dead. Many modern Christians reject parts or all of this and We Muslims believe only because Prophet Muhammad told us that it is true.

      At the end of the day, it is Christians who will keep on finding scripts that will doubt their own Christian Faith. It is the Christians alone who will learn the truth as they keep digging. So far the Bible has been revised so many times. The word begotten from Jesus is the begotten son has been ELIMINATED from the most up to date bibles. You can still read the older ones but at least you will know in the back of your minds that some Christian has found the truth and has done the right thing to correct an error. Peace to all.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  7. Rational Libertarian

    She was a skifooza.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  8. doug

    Jesus is a rip off of Horus anyway. Moses is a rip off of Minos. A quarter of the world's population has been duped. When you die, you will be maggot food. Hell is a scare tactic. Your conscious thought does not transfer to an invisible soul and then spend all of eternity with an invisible sky daddy...Wait, that sounds like hell to me. Can you imagine an eternity of floating on a cloud? To all the Christians out there who have dismissed all other gods, how did the ancient Egyptians know about the afterlife if no one ever told them about it? Was it a lucky guess? What race was Noah and his kids? Was he black, Hispanic, European, cajun? The kids must have all had interracial marriages to repopulate the world with this must diversity. I can go on and on like this, but I need to get back to work.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Kevin

      Religion is a vehicle that was planted here to control the masses. I believe it was planted here by extra terrestrials to better keep mankind in control. It is now failing. The truth is starting to be revealed. People are starting to wake up and see that when you go to a church and the whole body of people get worked up it is simply that. Them getting worked up and then they say its god. Religion and churches are gonna perish some day and all that will be left is the humans who aren't a part of that and the returning fathers who combined their DNA to our ancestors.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Madtown

      how did the ancient Egyptians know about the afterlife if no one ever told them about it?
      ------
      What afterlife, I thought you said we end up as nothing more than worm food? I think there's more to it than our physical life on earth, but I don't believe any religion has any answers for how it goes. We don't know.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • doug

      good theory kevin. and just like the Christian theory, it can not be proven or disproved. I pray to the spaghetti monster, and he rewards me with spaghetti when I go to Fazolis.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • doug

      @madtown, you know what i meant. The promise of eternal afterlife has been around forever, and all you have to do is follow whatever rules were prevalent at the time.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  9. Shaggy

    Alert!
    Your invisible friend that you talk to and tells you right and wrong, who is a zombie and did magic tricks, probably wasn't married but this scrap of paper that didn't make into your magic book says he might have been.

    This is a brief summary for the Christians too lazy to read the whole article above.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Lazy jesus Freak

      Cool...thanks Shaggy.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • You meddling kids

      Scooby snacks?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • VICKY

      you guys do knw that he was an actual man who existed right.... but i digress your comments truly show the lack of intellengence you guys do have smh such a shame

      September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • senile

      Was VICKY the fat nerdy one with glasses?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Roscoe Chait

    Of course Jesus was married. He had a son named Brian. Or was that his brother?

    September 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jesus

      Brian was actually my gerbil's name.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Al Russell

      *snicker* great MP reference!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. Sunflower

    The Council of Nicea did as much harm to the church and it's future generations as the burning of the library at Alexandria did for all of humankind.

    September 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Al Russell

      Agreed. One of the scholars in the video mentions emphatically that this fragment isn't "Canon," as if that matters in the least. Many gospels got left out of the official "Canon" that was cherry picked by Constantine and his cronies.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  12. Heaveninc

    I think that it would be awesome if Jesus had a wife.

    September 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jesus

      I never had a wife...I'm gay.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  13. Mary Davis

    JESUS, the son of GOD..............................never had a wife. The Holy Bible states the truth for everyone. GOD would
    have told this in the Bible..................had it been true. Think people. Come on now. The Holy Bible is the blueprint for all
    our lives! JESUS was perfect and pure in his thoughts and actions. JESUS..................never sinned. JESUS' whole life
    was not as any other mortal man's life.........................would have been. JESUS lived among mortal men but, he was
    perfect from birth. Perfect baby, perfect child and the perfect adult! JESUS WAS 100% PERFECTION!

    September 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Shaggy

      Koalas, broccoli, and Swedish people aren't in the Bible either. I'm pretty sure they exist.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bill

      Remember the bible was written by man. Not just any man, but the men that won the war, the Romans. While I agree Jesus was pure, you do have to realize a lot of content was left out of the bible as it conflicted with the views of the men writting the bible..........

      September 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • .

      ...Yes, time for our multiple choice question again:

      Mary Davis is:
      1 Over 85 years old
      2. Home Schooled
      3 Lives in the bible belt
      4 All of the above
      5 A troll

      September 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • maria

      The bible is just a book of stories. Jesus was just a man. A good man, but just a man. Mary M was his wife and it is believed she had his child after he was crucified. End of story.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Madtown

      GOD would have told this in the Bible
      -----
      This would have been true, only if God actually wrote the bible.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Jesus

      Wow, thanks for the kind words Mary. Your reward will be great in heaven...where I'll introduce you to my gay lover, Brian.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Consider the episode where Jesus curses the fig tree. "Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. The he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” (Mark 11:12-14, NIV)

      As a result, the tree withered from the roots (v. 20).
      This means that Jesus did not know the tree had no fruit until he went up to the tree and found nothing but leaves.
      When Jesus saw leaves from a distance he hoped to find fruit on the tree.
      It was not fig season, and this is why the tree had no figs. This comment from Mark clearly, implies that it was a perfectly good tree. If the tree was barren, Mark’s comment about the season would have been pointless and misleading.
      Jesus did not know it was not fig season. If he had known this, he would not have expected the tree to have fruit, and he would not have cursed the tree for having no fruit.
      How did the 100% perfect Jesus get his facts wrong about fig trees and then become angry enough about His own mistake to curse the tree?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Shaggy

      I think you miss the bigger issue. This is a story about a guy talking to a tree. And getting mad at it.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Brian Davis

      Hey Mary,
      This is Brian Davis. Jesus and I.. are well.. you know happy to together. We have spent a lot of time in heaven and feel that we want to get married. I asked Jesus to change the Bibile and he said that church wouldn't allow it. For now, we are just consummating our marriage every day, sometimes more than once a day. I want to let you know that you are correct about Jesus. He is pure and perfect. He is the best guy I ever had.

      There is some thing I need to tell you Mary. I am your father. Yes. I am your father and I am gay. I am sure you can forgive me as I am gay for Jesus.

      Love,
      Brian Davis.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Mary needs a blueprint. ..... Say no more.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Jesus

      "How did the 100% perfect Jesus get his facts wrong about fig trees and then become angry enough about His own mistake to curse the tree?"

      Come on dude, lighten up...I didn't take my meds that day. That's all.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      China isn't mentioned in the Bible. I guess it doesn't exist.

      Antarctica, neither.

      Or coffee.

      Or DNA.

      Or the parents of nearly all the personages that are mentioned in the Bible.

      All hallucinations, apparently.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Rick

      Not 100% perfect. He got angry with the priests in the temple. But anyway. Two things come to mind about this article. One, what does the scrap of parchment say before and after those words? The second one is, If Jesus got married, wouldn't there be a very large celebration about it? Marriage in the biblical age was a very big thing. Celebrations went on for several days. I would think that some one close to Jesus would write about it. It would be quite an event.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      Mary...thanks for straightening that out for everyone. Now take your meds

      September 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Think people."

      the irony of someone that posted that nonsense also including this plea in this post is amazing.

      and sorry but he got angry and violent with the moneylenders, and therefore not perfect.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Miss Manager

      So you believe everything you read?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL

      Docster Vestibule, I saw you pose the same question yesterday about the fig tree. did you google it? More than one viewpoint on it.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  14. Whitney

    I think they are blowing this wayy out of the water! I believe Jesus was speaking of the church when he says "his wife" because in the bible he refers to the church as his bride. Shame on people for always trying to prove that Jesus is not real!
    I only pray that all the non believers open their eyes before it's too late! I praise my Lord and know he is real!!

    September 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Whatney?

      read the fragment...

      September 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • OOO

      "I believe Jesus was speaking of the church when he says "his wife" "

      You can believe whatever is convenient for you , honey. The fact is that now there are more conflicting writings that need to be taken into account.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Whitney

      "The fact is that now there are more conflicting writings that need to be taken into account."

      That's easy for you to say...but I can't think for myself and I can only beleive in the things I was taugh to beleive in.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • punked!

      oh Whitney!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Maybe, but unlikely; that particular characterization is never, ever mentioned by Jesus in any of the other Gospels, and really didn't take shape until the third or fourth century. Without more text, of course, it's ambiguous, but even if what you believe is true it would be an unprecedented discovery. Too bad for your point of view, then, that we just don't know.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      He NEVER ONCE said the church was his bride. Prove it. Where is it. You made it up. In Jesus' day there was no such thing as a "church". How could that make sence in his day ? They would have said : "What the hell is a church ?".

      September 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'I believe Jesus was speaking of the church when he says "his wife" because in the bible he refers to the church as his bride."

      sorry, read the fragment, he talks about mary, his wife and she becoming a disciple.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Whitney

      I don't have my Bible right with me at the moment. I am at work and was on lunch when writing earlier. I believe it's in revelation chapter 19! It "refers" to the church as the bride of the lamb (Jesus)

      September 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Scraping the bottom of the barrel

      Revelations? OMG

      September 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • FYI

      The correct name of that book is "Revelation" (no 's').

      September 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • penitent

      Sorry at lunch without my Bible. And I don't how to use the internet 🙁

      September 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • NUMBNUT

      What's the matter with you Whitney, Jesus married Mary Magdalene. Dan Brown said so.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      If it's in Revelation, don't bother. Jesus said nothing that's in Revelation. Every scholar knows those texts reflect a much later developmental aspect of your cult, and was written a number of generations later. You people REALLY ought to take a Bible class.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      And anyway, it was written in Greek. The translated word was "ecclesia". The Ekklesia, or "ecclesia" was an "assembly", in Greece, (from Athens). It did NOT mean the same thing as a "church". Sheesh. Such phenomenal ignorance. No wonder we are in the place we are.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      While you're at it, please explain how the god in the Old Testament, (you know, Jesus' Father), also had a wife. Yup. Ashura. For most of the history of nIsrael, they also worshiped Yahweh's wife.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  15. nottolate

    @ChuckB

    "Nottolate, blasphemy and heresy? Very Talibanish."

    Perhaps to them who have no idea as to what the theological definitions of blasphemy and heresy are. But for hose who are not so ignorant, an absolute fact.

    "To whom do such arcane notions apply, other than being a reason for excommunicating a church member?"

    It applies to us all. This is God's economy not ours and you'll be finding that out soon enough.

    "Certainly it would not be an excuse for rioting, assassination, etc."

    I see no excuse for such in the bible. That's your own corrupt imagination.

    September 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  16. Madtown

    Did Jesus' wife nag him like mine does me?

    September 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • worse

      ...drove him to an early grave

      September 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jesus

      She sure did...she was a real palin, opps, I mean pain.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      he tried putting his hands over his ears to drown out the noise but of course that didnt help.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  17. martin

    That people believe or care about any of this son of god who was killed by his father, came back as a zombie myth, is pathetic.

    September 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Mephibosheth

      You are pathetic if you care so much.. why? 🙂 🙂
      you know this is a free country... 🙂 🙂

      September 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • fact check

      show me where the Bible says the U.S. is a free country!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  18. uriahhheapp

    There are some people who believe Jesus was multiracial, any evidence of that tidbit?

    September 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • oh well..

      there are people who portray him as a white guy with beard as well.. no support for that either.. other than circumstantial argument..

      can't really argue with fundies

      September 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • martin

      There is not one shred of valid historical proof that the jesus character existec. Evidently the plethora of historians didn't notice the "superman". There were lots of Jesuses and Johns back then just like the Jesuses and Juans in Mexico now.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Mephibosheth

      poor martin.. you're spending way to much time being ignored by most... 🙂 🙂 🙂

      September 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Sean

      @ Martin. There is plenty of evidence that Jesus existed. Just as much evidence that Jesus existed as for any other character of note that we accept from anctient history books. There are 4 Canonical Gospels (arguably written within the lifetime of the witnesses of Jesus' ministry), multiple Gnostic Gospels (written between the Second and Third Centuries), multiple early Christian Church letters that corroborate his existence, and the writings of other historical writers (Josephus chief among them). Would you deny that Pericles existed just because the primary source was one reference (Thucydides' History of the Peloppenisian War)? Now, whether you believe that Jesus was the Son of God is another question completely. You are free to believe how you will. I just take umbrage with people who want to maintain a totally different standard of proof for the existence of Jesus than they would for any other historical character of note.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • donna

      There's no evidence that he was a real person, so the multi-racial thing is up to whoever is telling the story.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • donna

      Sean, what contemporary evidence is there that Jesus existed? That's one of the standards of determining validity of historical evidence. When was there any writing that depicted him as a non magical person?

      Clearly, you don't understand how historical evidence is evaluated, but there is no other character who is believed to have existed just because there are fictional stories about a magical hero.

      If you're the same Sean from the other thread, please provide real evidence instead of making up things that people said this time...

      September 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  19. kamarasune

    I see the Sinclairs (oil) are still trying to say they are descendants of Jesus. FYI Jesus was a very common name back then...

    September 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  20. uriahhheapp

    This papyrus was written 300 years after Jesus. Isn't everything we know about Jesus was written 100 years, at least, after Jesus and we take that stuff to be the gospel? When it was written is rather academic!

    September 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • oh well..

      unfortunately, the fundies dont see it that way. And they also conveniently forget that a good portion of that original gospels were also heavily edited and/or thrown away to suit the needs of the kings (starting with Constantine).

      September 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Richard Jones

      Hey Uriah ! Are you a product of public schools ??? The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke. and John were written between 30 and 50 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Two were written by people who knew Him and worked for Him in His ministry. This garbage in the article is totally fake !!! You can tell because it comes from Harvard !!! This stuff was probably made up by Lyin' Dan Rather, working on a Harvard grant funded by tax dollars. Lyin' Dan has been out of work for a while and propably needs the money for booze !!! I am amazed by the percentage of our current population who absolutely can't think at all !!!

      September 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • on a roll

      well you nailed Uriah, public school kids, atheists, Harvard,... you forgot about O, Democrats, Hilary, gays, Mormons,...

      September 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • tobyspeeks

      Richard Jones, you must be extremely amazed with yourself.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Bill

      So, Richard Jones, since I went to public school does that mean Jesus doesnt love me?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • 47%

      insult us too!

      September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • donna

      The earliest writing is about 20-30 years after the character Jesus supposedly died. There is absolutely nothing contemporary.

      All stories are about a magical person and were written over multiple centuries and many cultures. There is no reason to assume any of these stories were based on a real person, and definitely not the same person.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      "The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke. and John were written between 30 and 50 years after the crucifixion of Jesus."

      Well, no. The earliest extant copies of these gospels date from the 2nd century AD; no first century copies, and certainly no originals have been found. You're basing your estimate solely on internal evidence contained in the writings themselves, which is not at all acceptable as a dating guide. Herodotus and other writers of the period frequently related long past events in the first person. Your claim is similar to stating that "Gone With The Wind" was written during the Civil War.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • donna

      Why does it matter that someone wrote a story about a fictional character having a wife? It's fiction. He could have a wife in some stories and not in others; since they are stories, it's entirely up to the authors to decide what their hero character does.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • donna

      oops I meant to make my last comment a new post, not a reply to uriahhheapp.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • donna

      SixDegrees, I'm curious about why you discount the earliest writings attributed to Paul.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • that's polite of you but

      like you really care about THIS thread 😉

      September 20, 2012 at 4:09 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.