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. postedbygeo

    Middleeastern religion proving P.T.Barnum was right.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  2. Kebos

    There's no evidence that Jesus existed let alone be married.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  3. Grey goose

    From either side of the argument, it doesn't say if such a marriage was consummated.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  4. Kelsang Drime

    Like they'd ever say that it was real?! To do so would undermine their entire structure and purpose which is the oppression of the truth about Christ. If people could see what is kept secret in their vaults, people would tear down the Vatican brick by brick.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Robert

      Making up stories is beneath anyone. Where did you learn these lies?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:32 am |
  5. Doc Johnson

    Violence stems from a lack of freedom. Hate is born of intolerance. But from whence comes this servitude and hatred?

    If you read from the Thomas Gospel we see that, "...our brothers rally and cry...free them from wench and w.h.o.r.e. Let them be as our Lord intended."

    This lack of evolutionary independence to spread one's seed and strengthen our species is quite unnatural and leads to jealousy and violence.

    In The Book of the Lord, we read, "Wade in the pond often but do not drown." I think that says it all.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Robert

      I'm waiting to read what your impression is to what those scriptures mean.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Doc Johnson

      I believe the meaning is clear.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Janice

      Admit it Doc Johnson, you atheists haven't a clue to what Jesus teaches.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Keith

      So, you think Phucking little boys is fun

      September 29, 2012 at 3:49 am |
  6. Draxta

    Jesus will be on The View October 7. I'm sure he'll be asked by Whoopi.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Robert

      The antichrist comes back first.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  7. Brian

    Is the Vatican "authentic"?

    September 29, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  8. bspurloc

    the vatican hasnt been a trusted source of FACTS for 100+ years

    September 29, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  9. And No Religion Too

    Totally on cue. What would you expect the Vatican to say; anything that threatens their dynasty of falsehood is fake. They have been backpedaling for years, every time a scientific discovery is proven they move from denial to acceptance, but say it was still god's will. Who really pays attention to this antiquated display of hocus-pocus they are still peddling?

    September 29, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • joey selene

      The ones who still believe in this trash are the ones who keep financing their existence. Pay me all that money those so call popes and cardinals and so on bring in and I'll tell you anything you wanna hear.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Robert

      What is your reason for using John Lennon's lyrics? I thought you atheists professed high intelligence? I guess creativity didn't come with the package..

      September 29, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • And No Religion Too

      To "Robert", before you get your panties twisted any more, based on all your responses to everyone's posts, please try to grasp this: religion is man made. And the reason behind it is the desire for power, control, and money. Your "good book" has been rewritten, edited, and modified through the centuries by scribes on orders of those in power. The insanity you now see committed by muslims in the name of their "god" is the same crap christians did during the inquisition. looks pretty ridiculous, doesn't it? Open your eyes and think for yourself. By the way, Lennon had it right many years ago; I honor his memory with his words.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  10. Last Day


    Jesus has already RETURNED, as he promised,
    in the beginning of this most critical Third and Last Day (=Millennium) now (John 6/27, 40),
    so listen to him now and see him again (Luke 13/35) here, before it may be too late for you (Matthew 7/21-23)


    September 29, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Doc Johnson

      Last Day,

      In the Gnostic Gospels, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand Jesus’ message, most likely due to his deafness. While the other disciples took the time to learn sign language, such as it was, Peter and Matthew did not find this to be important.

      Scholars have interpreted this as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew where Matthew writes, “…our Lord, be He holy and impressive is challenging. He challenges us in mind and patience.”

      September 29, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Seyedibar

      The battle of Armageddon describes a battle which has already been fought. And the messiah did not show up to save the jews of Megiddo. What most Christians take as some supernatural apocalypse is actually a symbolic description of church mass incorporating some ancient history. if you literally believe that gods are coming to earth to burn it all to the ground and take 144,000 jews to heaven, then you are even more deluded than the average believer.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Robert

      Thanks for mentioning the 144,000 “sealed of Israel” in the book of Revelation 7 is about the Christians who were STRIPPED of their name Israel since the Assyrian captivity and deportations back in 611 B.C.

      Acts 11:26

      And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Let's see a list, and polling results, and data from your "scholars".

      September 29, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Robert

      Most Jews listen to their lying Rabbis. There will be more Rabbis in hell.

      "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." (Jeremiah 13:23 ).

      September 29, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • End Religion

      Thanks for mentioning Antioch. Here is a more historically accurate portrait:


      September 29, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  11. Thejewsdidit.

    it does not matter if Jesus Christ was Married of had offspring what does matter is how he died an who killed him ... In the movie " The passion of the Christ " it was the Romans and the " evil ,nasty and wicked JEWS ! " who killed the Savyour Jesus Christ ! So yea all you Christian Churches preaching saying " Jews must be protected " why not tell the truth the " SHEEP " you horde into your churches every Sunday morning an asking them for there " MONEY " to pay for you Car your house and the fancy things you live on...

    September 29, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • End Religion

      Aren't you supposed to be out on a shrimp boat, working from dawn to dusk, or something? I officially release the Kraken to track you down and eat you in a most nasty way.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • JMorcan

      Jesus was a Jew. It is very clear in the New Testament that God was solely reponsible for his death.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Jesus was a Jew, in the Roman occupied city of Jerusalem. He caused an incident in the temple. There was a standing order in the Pax Romana to execute trouble makers, without a trial. They just got rid of him, if he ever existed.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  12. paganguy

    "This Country is probably the last place that Lord Jesus will ever visit." Great, I sure hope so.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  13. Michael

    Here's a question: Karen King spent all this time analyzing the fragment, but admits it is inconclusive until the fragment has been analyzed (eg carbon dating, etc). Why on earth would she waste time writing a paper and presenting it without first checking the authenticity? Is she just trying to create controversy to draw attention to herself?

    September 29, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Keith

      That is the way things are done

      September 29, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • joey selene

      CNN needed a story since George Zimmerman ain't misbehaving anymore

      September 29, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • realbuckyball

      She took it to the conference in Rome, to see what her colleagues thought. She announced nothing. The story was picked up.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  14. Doc Johnson

    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 12:14 am |
    • Keith

      Even for believers a good Greek – English bible will teach them things their Fundamentalist Preacher doesn't know.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Doc Johnson

      Many in my field believe that the many references to Jesus as being "dumb" were in fact a reference to the fact that he was mute. This has given further creedence to the well know assertion that Jesus did not deliver the "sermon on the mount" but instead "signed" his wisdom to the deaf community present at the time.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  15. Keith

    There were many other writings that the Vatican left out of the official cannon that said Jesus was married. I can still be a Christian if he was married. It makes little difference one way or the other.

    The Catholic Church has a lot to lose because of their stance on Celibacy. It looks like to me that all celibacy have gotten the Vatican is pedophiles and perverts

    September 29, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • truthinmaryland

      Priests were allowed to remarried until around 1000 AD. The church changed the rules to keep Priests from passing religious artifacts to their families. Christ supposed celibacy was just a ruse to promote the new rule.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • End Religion

      Release the KRAKEN!!!

      September 29, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  16. Bhawk

    What do they base their opinion on. Just what it says or what its on–looks like just what it says.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  17. 24 Hour Crisis Center

    If you read both Timothy and Phillip, there are passages which describe in detail that Jesus was cremated.

    We know this because his friends were asked to take his ashes to the Sea of Galilee and deposit them over, "...the lapping waves of His Father's own sink basin".

    A passage in Timothy states, “…the ashes were as grains of sand. I have tasted his body.”

    This passage is thought to have been incorrectly translated into the last supper myth.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  18. truthinmaryland

    Ok, is not this the same group that denied Galileo and then had to apologize. Religion is the opiate for those who can not think for themselves.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  19. AngerBot

    Since the bible is fake, it's appropriate that this is too.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  20. David in Tampa

    To say Jesus and God are the same is Blasphemy. Jesus is NOT the only Son of God. He is the only Son born of man. Read Genesis 6. There are many Sons of God long before Jesus. They are real scary. Their activities would surely point to Jesus having a wife. Read what happened and was said at the tower of Babel just a few generations after the flood. While you're at it, read the whole book. American "christians" no more believe the Bible than they believe in anything else that is true. Going to a place of business called a "church" on the Sabbath for an hours worth of entertainment and call it worship is Blasphemy. This Country is probably the last place that Lord Jesus will ever visit. Archangel Micheal, now there is a different story.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • End Religion

      All religion is a fraud. If you suffer from a brand of this delusion, it is no less crazy than any other.
      Learn more about Arch Angel Michael here: http://goo.gl/UxPi

      September 29, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Keith

      Fair criticism I believe.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:15 am |
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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.