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. Million Dollar Idea

    First come first served.

    Make placemats out of the this fragment. Table setting for six!

    September 29, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  2. Kevin

    So they are gonna say thats its fake. Why would they want to say other wise and then have to explain themselves. This was expected.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  3. Shepherd

    Yep, and in a thousand more years, the Vatican will be declared a fake.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  4. y22nxdf2

    If only they reacted this quickly to certain forms of perversion amongst them.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  5. JoeRizal

    When we finally find life on other planet, the Vatican will declare that fake, too.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • y22nxdf2

      First we should make an effort to find intelligent life on Earth.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @y22... I'd ammend what you said to this, first we need to find intelligent life among the fundies.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  6. worldcares

    As a child, I was brought up with the King James version of the Bible.
    When I became a teenager, I studied all world religions.
    As I got older, I began to study the ancients.
    From a Christian perspective, there were many bibles written before the King James version.
    If one wants to see the whole picture, they have to study the history.
    Religion is what civilized man.
    Religion is the nemesis regarding world communication.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Like the Vatican would tell the truth on something like this – yeah right! Maybe they would be as honest as they are about the children they continue to molest?

    September 28, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  8. 24 Hour Crisis Center


    "God and Jesus are the same."

    Ok, God is Jesus, Jesus is God. God wanted to have a physical manifestation of himself on Earth and though he created the heavens and the Earth, Adam and Eve, he couldn't manage a “Jesus” so he knocked up a virgin by proxy who then gave birth to Himself and then he waited for himself to grow up so that he could preach the "truth" to those who would listen.

    Then he set up his own death so that he could suffer on a cross to "die" (even though he can't die) for the sins of all the many billions of people who would be born who had not yet committed any sins but for whom he has a plan and that plan includes sinning for some unknown reason so he needed to die for them. Then he becomes a ghost, takes a little trip to Hades to hang with the red guy and then he "rises" and walks about frightening people and then disappears after telling everyone he would return and never shows his face again.


    I would offer this counter possibility. Mary got knocked up by the blacksmith. Jesus was a cult leader. Jesus broke the law and was punished and died.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • sybaris


      September 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • dan

      how about the most obvious explanation or/and answer: jesus never existed, it is a made-up story, just one more fairytale... Humans are sooooo gullible... as an old Jesuit once said: "give me a child under 7 year of age and I will give you back a real christian"....

      September 28, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  9. Spike

    Jesus is King of Kings and will be ruling mankind soon

    September 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      When is soon? That is what he said 2k ago...

      September 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • RightSaidTed

      Spikey, if you can't specify a date, your prediction doesn't pass the smell test.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Yeah, umm, sure.. I've heard that for 2000 years... you guys need a new mantra.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • End Religion

      I smell stinky piles of religious doody. Maybe it's the arrival of the King afterall. Elvis is back!

      September 29, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  10. SirToYe

    Anything to do with the Bible, Old or new testament, contradictory to what was to be approved by or was approved by Constantine is deemed automatically fake as far as the Vatican is concerned. Imagine people in the 21st century allowing themselves to be ruled under a belief system, that was made popular by and used for the benefit of a psychopathic Roman emperor. Get some critical thinking folks, and stop holding on to fairy tales that should have died in 337.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      It is heart warming to see so many people taking the stand that you are advocating. Just this week, a national atheist organization opened an office in South Carolina... it's about time.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • RightSaidTed

      Hear SirToYe. Hear yee! hear yee!

      September 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  11. k.madhukar

    If his followers attribute divinity to Jesus, what difference it would make if Jesus, in His earthly avatar ,was married.Church is reacting the same way it reacted when Galileo told them that earth was not centre of universe or flat or Darwin hinted that earth or universe was not created in six days 6000 years ago.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      The Catholic Church has been responsible for more obstructionism against education, science, and reason than ANY other group in the history of the world. One scientist I know said that our technology would be three hundred years further along if Christianity had never caught on.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  12. Doc Johnson

    I can tell you after many and many years of research of my own, including a number of papers, that there is much that does not get told in popular academia.

    For example, Jesus tells us that his father and mother "have not spaketh a single word in two years plus three. This sounds like a man scorned to me...

    How can we prove marital troubles in the home of Jesus? Reading from Mary (Magdalene), she says, "when Joseph's gaze met mine I felt a burning deep within...." She goes on to discuss Jesus' jealousy and rage.

    Is it possible Joseph never forgave Mary for her affair, and Joseph and Jesus were competing for Mary Magdalene’s affection?

    September 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • dan

      and how about, you are just soooo gullible??? jc NEVER existed... just another fairytale... as real as the flying pink unicorn in orbit around the moon....

      September 28, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • AZ Girl

      Dear Dan, from a historical point of view, yes, Jesus DID exist. Whether or not he was the son of God and THE Messiah is the main catalyst of SO many religious wars. Other than that, do I believe that Jesus was married, not sure. Do I think that him and Mary M had some sort of relationship? Yes. I do.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      This discovery is an excellent example of Coptic pigeon. Not unlike today's Hawaiian Islanders, The Coptic language was a mixed dialect making it seem "sloppy" to the untrained eye.

      The Gnostic gospels were indeed "scripture" far more so than the present form of the so called "Holy Bible". In fact, these scriptures tell the tale of Jesus the man. Married, a Buddhist, a nudist, a true renaissance man of his time.

      The Greek Phase: ανοιχ τή ο δο ιτ, simply means, "what time did you get in last night?” Loosely translated into today’s vernacular.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @AZ Girl, What evidences do you present to prove that Jesus was a historical figure? Any first century writings by Jesus, any historical writers from the first century who wrote about the earth opening up and swallowing people, about the temple being torn, or about zombie prophets rising from their graves and walking among the people?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  13. tffl

    "Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit” but we aren't going to tell you what those reasons are – they are a secret, and you are not smart enough or important enough to be let in on the secret...

    September 28, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Awesome! Well you know for centuries only the Catholic Priests were allowed to learn to read and write. I think someone forgot to tell the Vatican that policy changed a couple hundred years ago, now.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Michael

      CNN and other new agencies that chose not to publish any details.
      Alberto Camplani gave more details in the vatican paper.

      reuters gave more details from the conference that King presented her paper.
      So, it is not just the vatican saying it is fake. Coptic and manuscript experts also say it is fake.

      Manuscript experts said the writing was clumsy.
      No one at the conference thought it was legitimate. 2/3 very skeptical, 1/3 convinced it is false.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  14. Joey

    I love my Lord Jesus.. no one can change me.... allelluia, amen

    September 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      You go Joey! That is YOUR right as a human being, to follow anyone you wish to follow. The ONLY problem I have as an atheist, is when those who follow Jesus attempt to force their beliefs on others, particularly in politics and in civil rights issues.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Danny

      Joey, if proof positive evidence ever came out that proved he was married, would that change your feelings?

      September 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      I love my teddy bear, Bejeebus, and his imaginary friend, Fo Fiddley. Amen.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  15. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    FINALLY, I agree with the Vatican.. somewhat... only I think that Jesus was FAKE, too.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  16. Reality

    The RCC is basically fake so what else is new. – only for the new members of this blog:

    To wit:

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    September 28, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Reality, THANK you for posting this. Awesome!

      September 28, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • jacob

      Reality, you are an angry creepy man

      September 29, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @jacob, why do you think Reality is those things. The man tells the truth.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  17. Brad

    Jesus' wife, "Vatican is a fake"

    September 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  18. ogre12

    Christians and Jews know the truth that this acclaim is not true.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Brett

      I love it when Christians immediately call this a fake because it would change everything. I think dating the script would be the first thing. I suspect the stories of Jesus have been changed over the years and interpretation so I give little credence, what people say about him. Oh,

      September 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  19. Calcommuter

    I told you it was done in El Marko pen, but nooooo......

    September 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  20. rad666


    The old testament was written thousands of years of after things happened, lol, is one of the most ignorant comments I have ever read about the Bible

    Jesus was not even born when it was writen!
    You are a moron. I was addressing the timeline of when things were written after they happened. They said it was fake because it was done 150 years later. I said nothing about Jesus being around in the Old Testament.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • TooMuch

      God and Jesus are the same.

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

      Yeah, the same fiction.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:46 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.