Vatican newspaper calls fragment referring to Jesus' wife 'a fake'
The fragment is written in Coptic, a language used by some early Christians.
September 28th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Vatican newspaper calls fragment referring to Jesus' wife 'a fake'

By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors

(CNN) - The Vatican on Friday appeared to push back on a recently publicized piece of papyrus that appears to show an early Christian referring to Jesus' wife, 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 a Friday editorial by the newspaper’s editor.

“In other words, in any case it is a fake,” wrote L'Osservatore Romano editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian.

The fragment referring to Jesus wife was written in Coptic, a language used by Egyptian Christians, and says in part, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife ..."

The paper is generally thought to reflect the views of Vatican officials.

5 Questions and answers about Jesus’ “wife”

Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King announced the findings of the 1.5- by 3-inch honey-colored fragment earlier this month in Rome at the International Association for Coptic Studies.

King was quick to add this discovered text "does not, however, provide evidence that the historical Jesus was married," she wrote in a draft of her analysis of the fragment set to appear in the January edition of Harvard Theological Review.

"This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that (Jesus) was married, nor does it prove that he was not married,” King said in a conference call with reporters earlier in the month. “The earliest reliable historical tradition is completely silent on that.

“So we're in the same position we were before it was found,” she continued. “We don't know if he was married or not."

In the accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible, there is no mention of his marital status, while the accounts do mention Jesus' mother, father and siblings.

Opinion: What fascination with Jesus’ “wife” tells us

The four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – tell the story of Jesus' birth and early childhood then skip to his short, three-year ministry before detailing his death and resurrection.

In its Friday editorial, the Vatican newspaper took aim at what it said was a media campaign to spread word of the papyrus despite questions about its authenticity.

“American media outlets had been alerted, a preventive press conference by Karen L. King held to prepare a global scoop which was immediately put into question by the experts,” the paper said.

- CNN"s Hada Messia contributed reporting from Rome

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Vatican

soundoff (2,552 Responses)
  1. kottmyer

    I think it's ROFLMAO funny how the Church gets its panties in a knot every time some evidence emerges that Jesus might have thought women were - *gasp* - people. And could be - *holds pearls and swoons* - actual disciples.

    April 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
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    November 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
  3. monkey taco

    Does anyone on this board consider or bother to explore, that the letter "J" was not invented, used, in vogue, ever seen before the 17th century. So much for someone to be called Jesus during 33 C.E., or before that time. God's only son, Yahowsha, was given to us, no Jebus.

    March 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      It seems a bit silly to be wrapped up in what the "real" name of a fictional character. It should only be more evidence for you that religion is a fraud altogether.

      March 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  4. Scott

    Jesus was a great spiritual being and Mary was not only appears to have been his chief disciple but more than likely his wife. During his travels he was heavily influenced by Buddhist teachings and there is compelling evidence that he survived the attempt on his life and returned to India where he lived out his days in peace. As to what happened to his wife its hard to say other than that she was shunned by his other students who were no doubt jealous of her relationship and special status.

    November 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  5. Bill Deacon

    Translations and vernacular transcriptions are not modifications sam. Can you show substantive disparities between any two versions?

    October 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  6. sam stone

    Nii: Anyone who says there is no chance that it has been modified is delusional. How man interpretations of the bible are out there?

    October 16, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  7. Nii

    Are u an Atheist cos u can't study or because you read the wrong books? Anyone who says the Bible has been modified is funny.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:06 am |
  8. UnFred

    Of course the vatican has to say it's fake cause it would make all that alter boy molesting and the lifting up of the other priests skirts for not.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:17 am |
  9. John

    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

    October 16, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • sam stone

      Wow, John......A QUOTE......you sure have the gift of persuasion down pat. Doesn't get any more convincing than A QUOTE, nosireeebob

      October 16, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • sam stone

      Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins

      October 16, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      No satan had a bad weekend. Jesus was glorified

      October 16, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • sam stone

      The claim is that god gave up his son for our sins.

      His son is with him.

      What did he give up?

      Jesus was glorified.

      From a normal person who pi$$ed off some people and got whacked to a storied "son of god"

      Amazing what can be accomplished through oral traditions and time

      October 16, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The only time it took me was to sit in front of the cross and contemplate what occurred. I recommend it.

      October 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  10. Chut Pata

    As big a fraud as the Shroud of Turin that was conned by the Catholic Church and carbon dating exposed the fraud?

    October 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      In the Church's view, whether the cloth is authentic or not has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of what Jesus taught nor on the saving power of his death and resurrection.[48]

      October 16, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  11. Lucille

    He was not married and did not abandon a wife and children. How ludicrous to say such a thing because one of the Pauline epistles teach that if one does not provide for his own house, he is worse than an infidel.

    October 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  12. midwestmatt

    But the Shroud of Turin is real despite being carbon dated to the 1500s?

    Yeah, the Vatican is really trustworthy on proclamations about verifiable facts.

    October 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The more you know the less you'll hate:

      In the case of the Shroud of Turin, it has been publicly declared a forgery by both Roman Catholic Church officials and prominent scientists. In 1389 the local bishop of Troyes denounced the Shroud claiming an artist had confessed to forging it. More recently, in 1988, after three different laboratories Carbon-14 dated the Shroud and found it to be some 1200 years younger than it should have been, the Roman Catholic Church announced to the world the results of the test.

      October 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bill Deacon
      In December of last year, the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano said that, 'For science, the shroud continues to be an 'impossible object' – impossible to falsify.'
      In 2009, Barbara Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, stated that computer-enhanced images of faint Greek, Latin, and Aramaic words show the name "Jesus Nazarene" prove beyond any doubt that the Shroud is authentic.
      The Vatican itself, however, has not made an official statement regarding the Shroud's authenticity since the carbon dating tests a few decades ago.

      October 16, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      And they will not because there is no impact to the faith either way.

      October 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It would seem the scientific community has been issued a challenge

      The researchers found that the markings had been created by a flash' similar to an ultraviolet laser – a technology far beyond the medieval forgers which sceptics argue must have made the 14ft by 3ft shroud.

      Scientists spent years trying to replicate the shroud’s markings.

      The newspaper hailed the results, and said the Catholic Church would welcome further tests,

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2080304/Vatican-says-Turin-Shroud-impossible-falsify–lending-weight-experiment-showed-blinding-flash.html#ixzz29U0xunCw
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

      October 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Veritas

      Article also says
      "More recently, further doubt was cast on its authenticity when Israeli archaeologists uncovered the first known burial shroud in Jerusalem from the time of the Crucifixion.
      Its weave and design are completely different from the Turin Shroud, they said.
      The Jerusalem shroud has a simple two-way weave – but the twill weave used on the Turin Shroud was introduced more than 1,000 years after Christ lived."

      October 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • MarkM

      In 2009, a team of scientists at the prestigious Los Alamos Laboratory proved without doubt that the Carbon date tests previously 'proving' the shroud to be from the middle ages, were tests performed on Cotton. The Shroud of Turin is made of linen and only the repaired sewn on sections are made of cotton. In other words, the Shroud of Turin has never actually been carbon dated. Feel free to do your research on this fact. You may take the Shroud of Turin as a sign of God's Mercy to scientific atheists. To date, there is still no method that can produce such an image.

      October 20, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  13. JonathanL

    if jesus had a wife and was protrayed more as a warrior the muslims wouldn't have had to fabricate a new prophet. There were to many people leftover from the time of christ who still wanted to throw stones, and have lots os wwives and little girls and or boys and be violent in other ways, I guess fundmentally barbaric, what they were used to, so they had to create a prophet for those people so they could just continue acting like barbarians and pretend that it was God's will, and that they would go to heaven for being bad. Seems twistsed but it seems to work for them, except if you don't like violence, though you get you head chopped of if you say anything. But he says she says. I'll never know what to believe. It all seems unbelievable.

    October 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Johnny 5

    Jesus had a wife. Where's the problem in that? i'm sure he had children too. He was just a regular person. Loosen up flat earthers.

    October 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jack Warner

      All this talk about Jesus and Abraham and not forget Mohammed is just a way to keep the power over people, like it was for 300 to 500 years ago. But what surprised me, the experts in ROM, The catholic church's own newspaper denied everything and say it's fake. The editor have his money each months from the POPE, so we know who is talking, The POPE
      To many prof have been shown in the last 50 to 60 years, that the Jesus was a quite normal person, but the guys who make the story about him-the Bible- was really clever. In our time the have received Nobel prize in Literature. But today we have less people who believe all crap about Jesus and he's returning and all the rest. The same with the Muslims, so long the top guys keep the mass in analfabetish, not able to read and write, and woman, the clever race, have no access to education, the Muslims will still be able have the power. Education means to use the brain, that is not what the believer do, they believe everything what a priest or a Mulla say and that is just a fake of dimensions. And the best of all, if a Muslim do not like to believe Mohammed anymore, maybe change to another believe of any kind. The Koran say, he must die, in that the Muslims show it right fase. Keep the folks in fear for the dead,and you may have them for ever....I small kid told me one time, his father was Pakistani and the boy remember who his father told him, If you don't believe Mohammed, he will come and kill you. What's way the boy ask, the father took his son hand and led him to the Post offices Place where all punishment took place after pray on Friday. The little son saw how a young woman been hanged and another was stoned, the father say to his son, now you know what happened when you not believe Mohammed......

      October 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Nii

      You sound Chinese or are you one of those dumb American Atheists?

      October 16, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  15. Akmed

    It was written hundreds of years after Jesus existed, I am sure it is accurate....

    October 15, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  16. Ms. Eva D

    unless, of course, there was an error in the process of editing.

    October 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  17. Ms. Eva D

    The tradition is for the bridegroom to provide the wine at his wedding...now, why would Jesus have been asked to take care of providing wine at anyone else's wedding? hmmmmm.

    October 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      INteresting, but I contest that there never was a Jesus, at least not one who could turn water to wine.

      October 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Lucille

      I believe it was his first public ministry-miracle, turning the water into wine.

      October 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  18. Ms. Eva D

    Love it. No one discusses Jesus being Essene, and the water to wine miracle at his wedding.

    October 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  19. Kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    October 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      Why do you seek eternity with a being from which you have to be "saved"?

      October 15, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      We're not saved "from" God sam. We're saved from ourselves. But you knew that didn't you?

      October 15, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Scott

      Bill Deacon We're not saved "from" God sam. We're saved from ourselves.

      Typical Christ-o-fascist response, blame the victim

      October 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      "We're not saved "from" God sam. We're saved from ourselves. But you knew that didn't you?"


      Subservient blather is all you put forth.

      October 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      For example, your often used phrase that we all fall short of the "glory of god"

      The god you paint is not worth of worship

      The god you paint is a vindictive, petty pr1ck

      October 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Of course, without guilt and the fear of this supposed paragon of goodness, Christianity is dead in the water

      That is why guilt is pushed.

      October 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      sam loves his life. God says "Let him have it" = It's hell to be sam

      October 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      Speaking for god again, are ya Billy?

      October 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      Billy Boy: You may think it is hell being me, but I am not the one carrying around the idea that I need salvation from a punk god

      October 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      sam, Hey if you're happy, I'm happy. I don't speak for God but I have heard the Word. What I understand is that you are free to make your choice. It seems you've made it so go in peace.

      October 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      fair enough, bill. be well and go in peace, yourself

      October 16, 2012 at 4:34 am |
  20. Kindness

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    October 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Silly bunt.

      October 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Lucille

      Kindness, amen, to that poem. It is great.

      I am looking for Elizabeth Elliott's "The Man God Uses," how he uses, crushes, sifts, sands, and molds him.

      "But without faith it is impossible to please him: For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him..."

      October 15, 2012 at 6:50 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.