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. Im not Earl High But I play him on the intrawebs

    And didnt they say the Shroud of Turin was legit? The Church has long hated women, no surprise they'd deny the existence of mythical Jesus having one.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      Can you provide specific examples of hatred towards women? I do believe they consider Mary the greatest saint of heaven and model for all humanity above any male saint. Also, women play the prominent roles in 80-90% of parish councils in Catholic parishes.

      You're a fool.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center


      If you are a woman, the place where God's absurdity becomes completely clear is when you look at God's s.e.xism.
      The dictionary defines a misogynist as "One who hates women. It defines the word "s.e.xist" as:

      1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
      2. Att.i.t.udes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender
      Is God a s.e.xist? Let's look at the evidence. We find this in 1 Corinthians chapter 14:

      As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

      This seems like a straightforward passage. And God is the one who inspired the Bible. In Isaiah 40:8 God says that the word of the Lord will last forever, and he says the same thing again in 1 Peter 1:24-25. So here we have God, in his eternal and everlasting Word, saying that it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

      This quote from 1 Corinthians 11 is important:

      But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head–it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.

      You may find it hard to believe that something that confusing is in the Bible, yet if you look it up you will find it is there.

      Then there is this section from 1 Timothy chapter 2:

      Also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.

      It is hard to miss God's meaning when he says something as direct as, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent."

      If you think about it, you will realize that God started this type of s.e.xism at the very beginning of the Bible. In Genesis chapter 17 God says:

      This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circ.u.mcised. You shall be circ.u.mcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.

      God makes no mention of forming any sort of covenant with women.

      There are many other examples that we can find in the Bible:

      • In Matthew 25:1 Jesus says: "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom."
      • In John 20:17 Jesus says to Mary: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father," as though the touch of a woman is somehow improper, but a few verses later, is happy to have Thomas touch him.
      • In Genesis chapter 3, God punishes Eve, and all women for thousands of years, with greatly increased pain during childbirth. No such pain is inflicted on Adam.
      • In Ephesians 5:22-24 we find this: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
      • In 1 Peter 3:7 we find: "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."
      • In 1 John 2:13, John says, "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father." No mention is made of women.
      • And so on. There are many, many examples like these throughout the old and new testaments.
      There are other, broader examples of misogyny that are readily apparent in the Bible as well:
      • Are any of Jesus' disciples women? No.
      • Are any of the elders in the book of Revelation women? No.
      • Are any of the books of the Bible written by women? No.
      • Etc...

      God, it would seem, wants nothing to do with women.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center


      How was that? (sorry Earl, I had to chime in there.)

      September 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  2. TheyHungerForYourBrains

    There is a group of people who do not like their savior was single. And possibly gay.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Jesus was quite real, and quite human. Even Timothy and Philip knew the true nature of Christ, as evidenced in this passage from the Gospel of Philip, "...and our Lord came unto me and witnessed as I behaved without intimidation."

      Scholars believe this is evidence of group s.e.x.u.a.l activity which was common place at this time in history among men afield.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      sorry Doc, but there isn't a single account of Jesus existing outside the magical writings of the bible, nor are any of those tales eyewitness accounts. Considering the mention of sorcery, zombies, talking animals and demon possession, we can quite safely presume that Jesus is no more real than Hercules or Thor or any other demigod.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      Actually there are records in Roman governance of an execution to a Hebrew man in Palestine for "rebellion"...not to mention the hundreds of writings from the 1st-2nd century referencing Jesus from both Christians and the secularists of the day.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      As for you, TheyHunger...thank you displaying the tolerance and patience of Christians everywhere. Muslims began 2 weeks riots and killed people over their religious icon being called gay. Christians allow you to speak your mind even if what you say reflect your low level of sensitivity and tolerance...

      September 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      In my research I have found that Mary Magdalene was in fact both consort and wife. A consort was simply a companion. If you read the scriptures, you will find that in the late BE and early CE, it was actually possible to both be married and single simultaneously.

      How you ask??

      You must refer to the Gnostic versus attributed to Phillip who said, "Be it spouse or alone, we are only that which our threshold allows on the Sabbath."

      Loosely translated it means a woman can be beholden to a man one day, and quite free the next. This makes polygamy possible without breaking God's law against Adultery.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      @doc: jesus was just as imaginary as the talking snake
      @Kid20: site source of roman records. wait... nevermind... it still isn't nearly proof of the existence of jesus. the writings referencing jesus are as much a fraud as the person himself and his faith We have no need for tolerance of religious peoples. They labour under a delusion responsible for the greatest corruption of human integrity. Religion is a trojan horse, promising love and tolerance but delivering only divisive hate. End all religion now.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Loosely translated it means a woman can be beholden to a man one day, and quite free the next. This makes polygamy possible without breaking God's law against Adultery."

      typical religious hypocrisy. condemn an activity then find a loophole for it, likely all the while wagging one's finger at others for equally delirious "rule breaking"

      September 28, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      @End Religion

      In the Jesus Gospel he discusses long journeys east of the desert where, "....there I encountered great wisdom and peace among the monks. They removed the sand from my sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"

      He goes on to say that, "...we meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."

      He brought these teachings to his 12 plus Mary and his parents saying, "...know me and know the many lives of the snake, the lizard, and the beasts of all previous lives. Mine is the journey of a God. Perfection can be found through self-sacrifice."

      This is well doc.u.mented but sadly, few too people understand that Jesus was no more a rabbi than me.

      He was a monk, and according to Timothy, an enthusiastic nudist. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic."

      September 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  3. john

    There is a distinct separation between spirituality and religion. Jesus taught spiritualism; the difference between right and wrong, good and bad and why it was so. The Vatican teaches religion through the use of priests and other clerics. Religion was established as a hierarchy of power by men who could not be Kings and to control the mass population through guilt while extorting money from them through guilt rather than taxation so that they can live in absolute wealth and splendor while controlling the people. If Jesus were here today he would certainly not agree with what has been done in his name. Remember....he threw the "money changers" out of the temple. This was one of the things that got him executed. He was crimping the style of the rich religious men of the day. Religion is all about power and money.

    Did Jesus have a wife? Probably.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      In the Jesus Gospel he discusses long journeys east of the desert where, "....there I encountered great wisdom and peace among the monks. They removed the sand from my sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"

      He goes on to say that, "...we meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."

      He brought these teachings to his 12 plus Mary and his parents saying, "...know me and know the many lives of the snake, the lizard, and the beasts of all previous lives. Mine is the journey of a God. Perfection can be found through self-sacrifice."

      This is well doc.u.mented but sadly, few too people understand that Jesus was no more a rabbi than me.

      He was a monk, and according to Timothy, an enthusiastic nudist. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic"

      September 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      Hey Doc,

      Where you getting your quotes from? Some "secret" gospel that only you know about? Gimme a break...
      Oh wait, I should have known! Doc Johnson knows better than 2,000 years of philosophers in the Christian tradition! He must be God's true representative on Earth!

      I hope you catch the sarcasm in my tone...

      September 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center


      I have spent a great deal of my professional life in the study of the Gnostic Gospels. As it turns out, the majority of “prophets” contributing to these scriptures was quite illiterate and most likely drew pictures to explain their wisdom.

      Needless to say, transcribing pictographs to verse was a tough task for the monks in those early centuries.

      Moreover, Jesus was the worst of the lot. This poor man could not even draw stick figures in the sand and apparently could not be trusted with anything sharp enough to draw with. As the story goes, Jesus would have to play a primitive form of "charades" while his scribes tried to guess his meaning.

      Most scholars agree that this is why these books were omitted from the Holy Bible...

      September 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      @CollegeKid and 24

      The evidence would suggest that Judas, Mary, Jesus and others spent a great deal of their down time reflecting on the spiritual dichotomy of the soul vs. the physical and how that relates to the teachings of God.

      Why did they do this? Jesus was attracted to Buddhism and often rested his decisions on the non-bias imaginings of one who would make sacrifice in this life only to be reborn in the next.

      In short, Jesus was a Jew by birth, but not by practice. He taught his own flavor of Buddhism and his closest disciples, Judas and Mary for example, were quite sure he was a snake in a previous life.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  4. brich22

    The Vatican is a huge deception. Current and past Popes are experts of manipulation and siphoning off monies from the gullible.

    Fake....virgin mary statue weeping.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      I wonder how much bloody jewish gold is in the Pope's throne?

      September 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  5. 2357

    Harvard Divinity is a joke of a Seminary. Look up their 1999 Dean P0RN scandal. They are a sham.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • RightSaidTed

      All Christian seminaries are jokes. Just look at their reference text, the bible. What a steaming load of...

      September 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  6. Observer

    Of course Jesus was married. All you ever hear is about how much he suffered.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  7. The PROPHET

    listen to the vatican... they did a BANG up job on the child rapist thing

    September 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      Trivia question! Who has actually responded to child molestation charges? Public Schools or the Catholic Church? Hint: Church immediately transfers/investigates/reprimands any priests who is even accused of possibly having a bad encounter with a child now. Public schools? Greatest breeding ground for sickos...

      September 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • RightSaidTed

      Even one case by the folks claiming to speak for god is too many.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  8. mika

    Oh, so the Vatican denounces as fake anything that might challenge their version of the story or the innovation of clerical celibacy? Wow, shocker.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  9. Tyler

    Yeah, I would like to see the long form of the wedding certificate. Otherwise this is a fake

    September 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  10. tony

    Tony Blair, the WMD liar and supporter of the illegal war against Iraq, is about as fake a christian as you can get, but the Pope welcomed him in instantly.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  11. danp

    oh chistians please grow up!!!!

    September 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Heaven Eleven

      danp, we Christians grew up a long time ago. Atheists just haven't caught up yet! I will pray for you.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Klaas Jan

      You grew up, yet you're going to kneel on the floor and talk to yourself. Uh huh.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      Good job rebelling against society! Your mockery of others really changes minds and expresses your unique individualism well. Let me ask you buddy, how tolerant do you think you are?

      Do you show anyone with different views any respect? Or do you immediately look down upon them b/c they clearly aren't as "enlightened" as you?

      September 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • End Religion

      I immediately look down on anyone who talks to imaginary beings and shapes his life around known frauds like religion. Religious people, benevolent or not, are our village idiots, wandering the streets babbling to themselves and believing in all sorts of magical creatures, places and beings.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • RightSaidTed

      Heaven Zero, you pray for us. We'll think for you.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  12. tony

    The "substantial reasons" are a secret, only to be disclosed to the innermost circle of cardinals. But trust them, they will tel you that the reaons are correct.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  13. G. Zeus Kreiszchte

    This is the Oh Holy Imperial Representative of The Church telling you that I have the Authority to make anything right or wrong, real or fake, anytime I wish and the reason I have this Authority is because I said so. That is the only reason you need to believe me. Now follow like a good sheep and give me more money so I can keep my beautiful, opulent gold throne polished for the TV cameras. Respect my Authoritaayyyy!

    September 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • CollegeKid20

      Psst...your ignorance is showing...you might want to try to cover that up.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm |

    The research was done by fake archealogists, who happened to be pagans.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  15. Questioner

    I guess I don't understand why Jesus wouldn't be married. I'm not really religious and I don't know much about the Bible having never read it...nor do I claim to know the culture of that time. However, wasn't Jesus Jewish? Didn't Jewish people get married quite young during the time of Jesus? Weren't they expected to get married and have children at a younger age? So...if that is true, then wouldn't it be weird for him not to be married?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  16. mary

    Having se.. outside of marriage was wrong.. Having a wife was not..
    If Jesus had a wife, it would not be a surprise.. And I don't think it would change a thing about his message..
    My only question if he did have a wife, is did he have children?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Doc Johnson


      Jesus never actually said he believed in God. In fact, if you read the Bible you will learn that Jesus actually believed in what he called, "The Divine".

      What does this mean? Jesus, while inarticulate and a bit clumsy in general, had an excellent grasp of the fundamentals of what the Native Americans call, "Mother Earth" and what it is to be a "Human Being".

      How do we know this?

      Look at the teachings of Jesus in the Gnostic literature that relates to being reborn as a Snake, a Lizard, and a Spider. Why did Jesus feel he was reincarnated; and why these animals and insects? That is easy if you read the Gospel of Mary.

      Mary had many pet names for her lover and among them were Snake, Lizard, and Spider. Snake and Lizard I can understand, but the passages relative to Spider are less clear.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Questioner

      If he did it makes me wonder where the bloodline is now...or if it died out.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • I wonder

      What about the descendants of the Apostles - whoever in heck those guys really were anyway?

      September 28, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • I wonder

      I'll bet Paul of Tarsus sowed some wild oats before his "conversion". That Sham-Wow guy has just got to be his descendant! Or maybe you remember Cal Worthington?!

      September 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  17. mandarax

    If God exists, he/she/it is very cryptic for some unknown reason. We are left to attempt to decipher a series of self-contradictory old books and some vague emotional thinking in order to believe. If God is all-powerful and truly wants us to know and believe, why doesn't he choose to be as obvious as is everything else around us? Why doesn't he write in the sky that he is here? Why doesn't he reach down and show himself? Or simply speak in a loud booming voice? Instead, he is always kept carefully hidden just out of sight over the mountain, or up in the clouds, or outside of the universe in order to rationalize why no matter where we look, he is not actually there. It would be very very easy to let us know he exists. It seems clear that either "he" doesn't actually want to be known, or he doesn't exist at all.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Jon Elli

      Holy mackeral! Didn't you hear him! He just spoke in a booming voice .... that I was HIS 'NEW VOICE" – so bow down to me and hand over all your valuables ... and daughters .....
      Oh! By the way .... I am He ... the offspring at the "end of the family-tree line"

      (Alas, some people will believe in anything!)

      September 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  18. Bootyfunk

    yes, the story of jesus is fake. that's not news.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  19. Let the religious nuts tell us all about truth.

    Very rarely in new testament writings do you read about the marital status of the followers. Remembering that wives were viewed more a piece of property used to produce children. The biblical character of Jesus was never written about as being married, nor were any of his 12 close followers. The character introduced after the death of Jesus.. Saul of Tarsus, later to become Paul.. wrote that it was best that a man not be married. The reason we don't hear about the marriage of Jesus or his followers is because it was not important to the story.

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

      Actually Paul's account was devoid of almost all detail and did not even contain the messiah's name at first. Most of the tales and characters people are familiar with were added by Matthew 8 decades later to make the story palatable to more audiences. That's right, the Sermon on the Mount, the miracles, the exorcism, the 3 day trip to hell: all borrowed from local myths and mixed in for entertainment purposes.
      i find little reason to presume any of the new testament is real, beyond the rule of Herod (which itself was a much later roman addition to the tale).

      September 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • I wonder

      And not a single son of any of the 12 (whoever they really were), nor of Matthew, Mark, Luke or whichever John that was, ever wrote a word? No Franklin Grahams? No Joel Osteens? Maybe there were accounts of "My Crazy Dad" that were destroyed?!

      September 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  20. michael

    Gee, what else was the Vadican going to say – "You caught us?"

    September 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.