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. Jon

    I agree with the Vatican that's it's a fake............how could a myth be married?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  2. chris

    Of course the Vatican is going to say the paper is fake. If it were proven true and then goes on to show maybe there is no no real god then it will show that the Vatican/Priest etc... is all a big fraud. Please note this is not to say whether there is or isn't a god but to show one reason they'd outright deny it.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • TooMuch

      All Christians are the brides of Christ and he is our bridegroom. Read it, it's in the Bible written years before you were a lump of clay.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  3. ironman59

    Of course the church is going to say it is a fake. To admit that it was real totally destroys all of their myths and fairytales. It would mean that such a person was nothing but a mere man who went around preaching. No special powers, no resurection, etc. Of course none of that ever happened to begin with but if they admit this was real it would destroy their entire empire and free the masses.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  4. Darlene Buckingham

    Fake wife of JEsus story at same time as tacky movie about Mohammed having relations with a woman. Coincidence?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Ummm, yes?

      September 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      No wait! I'm sure there's some obscure, and utterly v@gue bible verse we could dig up to "prove" that this would happen. The bible is so good about making predictions.....like a horoscope!

      September 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • TooMuch


      TWELVE is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun which "rules" the day, and the moon and stars which "govern" the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12 x 30) degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  5. Chris

    Of course Jesus is married. The church is his bride. See Ephesians 5.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      So did Jeezus fvk the Church? Or is it the other way around?

      September 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Earthling

      Because a book of fables is a totally reliable source of information.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • TooMuch

      All Christians that follow Jesus are his bride and he is the bridegroom. All you atheists will see this truth for yourselves when Jesus return. Don't expect to be invited to the wedding. You can watch it from the other side of the gulf where you will be complaining, as usual.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  6. SokrMom

    The Vatican's "substantial reasons" for thinking the papyrus is fake are ... ?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  7. chazzz

    A FAKE: In other words: " That was no Lady...That was...MY WIFE"

    September 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  8. John N Florida

    ANDDDDD, Galileo was under house arrest for HOW long?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      Galileo was sentenced by the Inquisition to formal imprisonment for the rest of his life, but this was commuted to house arrest almost immediately thereafter. He remained under house arrest from the time of his conviction in 1632 until Jan 8th 1642 which was the date of his death.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  9. Han

    Well, I would believe it's a fake if the Vatican can explain scientifically why it's a clumsy fake.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Russ

      Here a link to 9 different scholars fulfilling your request:

      September 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  10. MysticYat

    LMAO, did someone actually expect the Vatican to acknowledge this as being authentic? If it's real it kind of blows the whole priest celebacy and nuns as second class citizens thing totally out of the water.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Pope Benedict XVI

      We alone are the authenticators ordained by Holy Writ and shall authenticate any antiquities we believe need authenticating. As for celibacy, we all know young children do not count. As far as nuns go, they make a good dinner for us and keep the place clean - why would they need any other status beyond 2nd class?

      September 28, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  11. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    Hey have you heard? Benny 16 has declared reckless driving a "sin!" HA HA HA! And not only that, he has declared condom use to be OK in the case of ho-mos&xuals, as this will help prevent the spread of disease (though ignoring the fact that ho-mos&xuals engage in ....oooohhh.....wait for it.......SODOMY! ). And of course condom use us still not permitted by heteros. Go Vatican! Infallible as usual (since what the 11th century when they made that crap up about popes being infallible?)

    September 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Low n slow

      Wow, what a sad, bitter little man you are. Whatever faith you follow, I want no part of.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • K

      Your rant aside, there are a number of issues, relating to the Church, that you don't seem to understand. Papal infallibility is only invoked when the Pope, speaking excathedra on the subjects of morals or theology, pronounces official Church doctrine. This happens very, very infrequently. As such, the Pope can make mistakes like anyone else. Also, this belief was not "invented", as you believe, in the 11th century. It was a belief of the early church, as evidenced in the writings of St. Irenaeus and the like. You really should learn more about the Church before putting pen to paper (so to speak).

      September 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The Pope is every bit as infallible as the Mormon First Presidency.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      Low n Slow: "Whatever faith you follow"

      That would be NO faith in invisible, unprovable, made-up "gods" for which there is absolutely NO evidence.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • G. Zeus Kreiszchte

      K: Sure just keep making it up as you go. It's like urban legend for you bible-thumpers. Whenever you are confronted with the fact that certain beliefs, doctrines, etc. did not begin until such and such a date, all you do is claim "Well, but they've been saying that for many years" or "Just because the Jews didn't write down their stories until just a few thousand years ago doesn't take away from the claim that their stories were originally given to them by god and handed down orally for countless generations" and blah blah blah with absolutely NO proof and no corroboration by independent sources.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • TooMuch

      We'll leave the make beliefs and lies to the atheists. You're so good at it.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  12. mark

    We could have BluRay footage of Jesus' wedding to his wife and millions of Christians would find a way to say it's not true. You're arguing with a brick wall, friends.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • End Religion

      but when we're bored it is the throwing of a tennis ball against that wall that helps us pass the time

      September 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • R Burns

      Christians or Catholics? The Roman Catholic hierarchy has it's reasons to declare that Jesus was an unmarried man. However, billions of Christians of other faiths either believe he should have or could have been married. That would have a positive impact on their faith, or at least no impact. Since rabbis were required to be married men in Jesus' time, it stand to reason that he was married. We just don't have any historical proof – yet.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • TooMuch

      All Christians that follow Jesus Christ are his brides and he is the bridegroom. None of you atheists are invited for you will be complaining as usual, on the wrong side of the gulf.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  13. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    What gives the Vatican the authority to claim anything is a FAKE?! Ever heard of the Shroud of Turin? Ever realize that the Catholic Cult just keeps making up $h|+ as they go? It's all a FAKE! All religions are FAKE! Right down to the very foundation - the very claim that any "god" exists! Up yours!

    September 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      User and abuser's of cannabis to hind, fool people, testing has reviled, holy water was nothing but mix of five cannabis, used to treat sick, but it was claimed as power of the priest.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • jack237

      Five Cannabis...is that by the makers of Four Loko?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  14. Angela Birch

    I don't know if it a fake or not but the church with the 15th century shoud of Jesus is certainly no expert on fakes. Furthermore I don't really care if he was married or not.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • End Religion

      so you don't have any opinion on the possibility jesus was married to a man?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • TooMuch

      End, why would you believe these lies? Does it make you feel good about yourself?

      September 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  15. Ariel

    With all respect, who cares? Is that in any way important? Why?

    September 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  16. steve

    Think of what that would do to Catholics/Christians. To have Jesus married!? That would mean he had a woman in his life and a woman played a part in this religion. The Vatican does not want that to happen. No women, this is a male organization.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • End Religion

      The Vatican can solve all your concerns with the revelation jesus was married to a man. This way they can continue to keep women out and at the same time begin making their chosen way of life more acceptable from a religious perspective.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • TooMuch

      You atheists watch too much TV.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  17. Frank

    This from the same church that holds about 10 tons of wood from "real" crosses, fake shrouds, magic apparitions, blessed water, and fake priest?

    I would take anything said by the Catholic church with a grain of salt.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Heyman

      I wouldn't take anything from the RCC -grain of salt or no grain of salt. They are utterly worthless as a source of reliable or honest information.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      Don't forget their various bits and pieces of saints. It seems that St James must have has about 18 fingers.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Testing of soil from old church has reveled holy water was nothing but mix of five cannabis to treat patients to claim super natural powers, way of hindu Magi's, criminals to convince hindu's ignorant s of the time.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  18. thedpr

    Link or name of web site where this paper can be found? Or... ANYTHING helpful? Just quoting the Vatican saying "we have many reasons" is completely not helpful.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Disposable Lighter Larry

      It's called "google" and you can use the google website or some other search engine to find better information.
      This is CNN, not a news website. Get it straight!

      September 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Heyman

      Yeah! This isn't some fracking NEWS site! This is CNN – the leader in lameness!

      September 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  19. Disposable Lighter Larry

    That looks like some really scratchy toilet paper. Let's burn it.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Heyman

      Can I borrow your lighter?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  20. Just asking

    SOOO... What date do they put the sample at? how about the ink? Who exactly makes fakes in coptic writing? WHERE did they find it? What is fake exactly?? Stop hiding the fact that Jesus was married and probably had children. Nothing shocks us anymore. Get over yourselves.

    September 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Disposable Lighter Larry

      I'm curious. So many people say "get over yourselves", but what does that even mean?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • mcdanel

      "get over your self" = quit thinking the world revolves around you.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • fritz

      All I can say is if some young gorgeous rich gal decided she was gonna slather spikenard all over my footsies then dry them off with her own hair, I'd say we're gettin' close enough to score bigtime! Jesus had to be one lucky messiah to hit home with a righteous chick like Mary Mag. They were either married or that was one holy hot date described in the bible! Get's me turned on everytime I read it. ;op

      September 28, 2012 at 10:15 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.