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. Daveq

    He couldn't have been married. He was gay, and "christians" won't allow gays to marry.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • dawg

      Maybe thats the completion of the sentence:

      "My wife... is a man. I'm gay."

      September 29, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      thomas 114) Simon Peter said to Him, "Let Mary leave us, for women are
      not worthy of Life."
      Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her
      male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you
      males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the
      Kingdom of Heaven."

      it all makes sense now

      September 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm |


    September 29, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • AARCE

      If I were you, I would not be dismissing Him that fast.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • Daveq

      aarce, if I were you, I'd outgrow the need to slavishly "worship" Bronze-age homeless gay mental patients.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:24 am |
  3. 200 TON HAMMER

    Wisdom created the fish of the seas,Wisdom created the trees on earth,Wisdom Created the Sun and Moon
    Wisdom Created Air you can feel,but can not see,Wisdom Created Gravity,Wisdom Created and Made man,man the human race of many cultures speech was Change By Wisdom,so that they could not understand each other,so thousands of cultures camed up with their own man made culture beliefs limited systems over the generations thousands of generations

    September 29, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • Seyedibar

      worst haiku ever.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:45 am |
  4. Grego

    What's wrong with being Married?

    September 29, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      Wisdom is the Teacher Knowledge is the Student
      Understanding is a Roadmap on a Pathway,you
      truely study these three are one too make
      a Good Relationship Work married or not
      are these three Wisdom Knowledge Understanding are one

      September 29, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  5. 200 TON HAMMER

    The Vatican can it truely explained 1st Kings Chapter 8:41~45 please european christians the real ones bring jewish people
    back too Isreal,so that they can build the Third Miskan on Mount Moriah.

    September 29, 2012 at 2:05 am |
  6. Hugh Jass

    Big surprise there.

    September 29, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  7. Last Day

    @Colin, Realbuckyball, and Infinite,

    the Words of Jesus was accurately protected and recorded by the Will of GOD;
    and his Words and Prophecies have thus already absolutely come true
    in this most critical Third and Last Day (=MILLENNIUM)! now (Luke 13/35 = John 6/27, 40)!

    So there is only one true GOD who has created His book of Universe and His book of Religion based on same
    19 coded, Symmetrical most Superb "Mathematical Language!"
    please, go and clearly and unmistakably see and witness it now with your own eyes
    for your eternal Salvation and everlasting benefits


    September 29, 2012 at 1:58 am |
    • old ben

      Now I'm sure somewhere in Pennsylvania, there must be a town named God. And I'm sure they have a Will in that town. But you expect us to believe this Will dude is protecting the words of some dude with a foot fetish that live a couple of thousand years ago? Really??

      September 29, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  8. Colin

    This story highlights a problem any honest Christian must confront in their faith. The only books in the Bible that talk about anything Jesus did during his life in any detail are the four gospels. The Old Testament obviously doesn't and Paul hardly mentions Jesus' life (despite the obviously core role Jesus plays in Pauline theology). Acts and Revelations have virtually nothing to add either.

    When it comes to evaluating Jesus' life, we have only the four canonical gospels, AND the oldest versions we have date from the early fourth Century. Between the originals being written and the oldest copies we have, who knows what changes were introduced. We know, for example, that the last 12 verses of Mark are faked, as is the story of Jesus and the adulteress in John. In short, we do not know what the original gospels said – and they are our sole source for information about Jesus.

    Second, the originals were written by second or third generation Christians recording events that occurred during the lives of their parents or grandparents. They were written about 35 (Mark), 50 (Luke and Matthew) and 60 (John) years after Jesus died. What are the chances that the originals even accurately recorded his life? Bear in mind that they were written by committed members of (what was then) an obscure religious sect, a demographic hardly known for textural accuracy when recording events about their leaders.

    The credibility of what has come down to us today as the 4 canonical gospels would be highly suspect, even in the absence of their extraordinary claims about miracles and other supernatural events (which, by the way, were consistent with other such claims being made for other people in the region at the time). When that is factored in, any thinking person would seemingly have to dismiss the gospels as being accurate records of Jesus' life.

    So , no matter how widespread Christianity may have become since then and no matter how many copies of th Bible might have subsequently been produced, Christians must accept the fact that their entire faith is nothing more than a cathederal constructed on a foundation of matchsticks which, at the first puff of logic and reason, comes crashing down.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Actually you have more. The Q source was a book of sayings, much as the Gnostic gospels were books of sayings. The Gnostic gospels were actually more similar to the gospel of Mark, before the Book of Sayings was combined with it.
      The gospels are in no way historical. They are liturgical texts, used ONLY in worship. The literacy rate was 1% – 5%. No one sat around reading gospels.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Infinite Truth

      One must see falsely first in order to better recognize the Truth.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Anan

      The Real Bucky Ball,

      Oral Traditions during the period


      September 29, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • OTOH


      "Oral Traditions during the period"

      - Alien Abductions.
      - Elvis sightings.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      That sums it up pretty well, I think... Sure.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • AARCE

      Remember that the Gospels are the Good News, the message of salvation for a needy humankind. The Holy Gospels are not a biography of Our Lord Jesus. It was never intended to be. The notion that written data was the only way to proclaim that message is not supported by the many references found in the bible itself, as verbal instructions were given as well. The important thing to know and to remember is that the Good News is Christ Himself.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • AARCE

      The mistery of Faith!!!

      September 29, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Anan


      Traditions passed orally.


      September 29, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • End Religion

      @infiniteLies: "One must see falsely first in order to better recognize the Truth."

      What are you, running for religious office? Your contradictory mumbo jumbo isn't truth - its just mumbo jumbo. "Only the blind truly see", "One must first be lost in order to be found", "To say 'I love you' one must first know how to say the 'I'" , "Since in order to speak, one must first listen", and on and on. Some of this crap has been co-opted by New Age feel-good scamsters, but its religious claptrap all the same. There is no wisdom in your words, there is only contradictory bullshit disguised as wisdom.

      September 29, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • Anan

      End Religion,

      And yet the realization of where it goes wrong teaches us. Do you find that not to be?

      September 29, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • Infinite Love

      All that is, is Truth. And all that is not, is Illusion.

      We get to experience both, and between the two the possibilities are endless.

      *Yoda frown*

      In my words, there is no contradiction.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  9. Last Day


    SON of MAN has already COME, as JESUS foretold,
    in the beginning of this most critical Third and Last DAY (=MILLENNIUM) now (John 6/27, 40),
    so listen to him now and thus see JESUS again (Luke 13/35) here, before it may be too late for you then (Matthew 7/21-23)


    September 29, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • realbuckyball

      People writing things in books that they already believe, then turning around and telling themselves what they wrote to remind themselves what they already believed, tells them something new, is THE most circular thing anyone could possibly imagine.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  10. petemg

    Are people trying to disprove Jesus as we know Him because they know they will have to answer to Him at Death. Why aren't people ridiculing the Muslim belief.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • realbuckyball

      So you're saying if people honestly don't believe, your dumb Jesus wouldn't know, and wants them to say they do ?
      How come you never read the Bible ? "No one can come to me , unless the Father draw him". It's up to god to draw.
      Jesus never existed. He was a conflation of myths.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • realbuckyball


      September 29, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Of course Jesus isn't real Bucky....
      To you.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  11. Nunya

    According to the Papacy, the world was flat too. You'll have to excuse me if I don't defer to them in scientific matters.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Infinite Truth

      You'll have to excuse them as well. Their science(The study of Truth) has a tendancy to be a litte underdeveloped in many areas. There are a great number of illusions out there that have yet to be be outgrown, by many of us. I mean, have you seen the Romney campaign?

      Oh wait... Sorry! This isn't a politics thread! Whoops!

      September 29, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Robert

      The Bible doesn't state the world is flat. Where did you come up with that lie?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Of course it doesn't, Robert, but it does say that the entire universe was created in six days, and that Eve came from Adam's rib, and that there was this guy name Noah who was able to build a wooden ship big enough to house two or more of every animal, and the incredible list goes on and on..

      September 29, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • OTOH


      A spherical Earth was pretty well established by the time any popes came along, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_Earth - but they did insist quite firmly for many centuries that the Sun orbited the Earth and that the Earth was the center of the universe.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  12. Kunst

    Christianity, starting with the Catholic Church, has never had anything to do with Jesus of Nazareth. At best, it should be called Paulism.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • realbuckyball


      September 29, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • realbuckyball

      They say Peter was the first bishop of Rome. He died in 67 CE. There is no way an organized community existed in Rome that early.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @bucky, you are correct. By most historical accounts, the Christians were pretty rare in the first century in Rome, not the widely known people that the current Christian church would have us believe.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • AARCE

      There is no Caesar in Rome anymore, but there has been a Pope since Paul. That was a Promise.

      September 29, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • OTOH


      - Paul was not a pope.

      - The papacy was moved to Avignon, France from 1309 to 1376 - no popes in Rome then.–http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avignon_Papacy

      September 29, 2012 at 3:05 am |
  13. Alicia

    I'm glad they deemed it a fake... now all the skeptics will have to find something else to victimize.. maybe they should pick on something that's going to really affect them soon.... can you say.....bilderberg group"?

    September 29, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  14. Chutzpah

    “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.

    Sounds like they gave it a lot of thought.

    Could they have worded their conclusions any more incoherently?

    September 29, 2012 at 12:50 am |
  15. Larry

    Maybe it is fake but then again the church did everything it could to call the gospel of thomas, which is real, a fake because it doesnt agree with the churches teachings. They actually had the nerve to call a gospel thats older than the garbage in the bible and actually written in the language christ spoke fake because it doesnt follow their own personal beliefs.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Chuck

      no one I know has called the GOT a fake....the church recognized the preponderence of early writings portrayed Jesus a certain way, and then you have this fringe stuff which casts Jesus in a completely different light. What would you do, especially if you knew the GOT was of the gnostic tradition (which considers matter evil, which is why you don't see passion narratives in gnostic literature)?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • b4bigbang

      So says Larry......
      But what saith his brothers Moe and Curly?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  16. Paul

    just trying to be humorously funny ..don't judge me too soon 😀
    And i'm not that religious at all.. 🙂

    September 29, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Don't worry babycakes, you still goin to heaven.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  17. Oh there's no doubt that he was married!

    He was married to the study of Truth, because it aids in shining away all illusion, false beliefs and misunderstandings. Is not the study of Truth a science? To study any one thing, within the Everything, would immediately place that study squarely into in the realm of science wouldn't it? Is it not True that Gravity exists? Do we not study this Truth, among many others, ourselves? He did as well, and he expressed these Truths to those around him through the use of a great many parables(modern day 'analogies') to help awaken them to it as well(What fun is a secret you can't share with everyone?).

    He was also married to those around him, whether they returned his love or not, because he was able to see in each of them what they could not see themselves. These were his brothers and sisters, each born of the same Everything, and he understood fully that they were still blind to a great many things around them, as well as within them. That is why he forgave them, just as each of you would forgive your own child because you understand that they don't know any better.

    He also was married to himself, fully realizing what this 'self' really represents in a Universe that birthed all that was, all that is and all that ever will be. A Universe where you could not have come into being without it's very presence. A Universe that churned for many millions of years just to evolve us all. That is why he called it The Father, and it started it's life long before any of us ever came into being.

    Learn to recognize Truth. Put your trust in it, and you too will learn to shine away the many illusions that darken the world around you. The many illusions that create divisions and separation between each of us. The many illusions written into the vast number of religious, and non-religious, texts, which only serve to obscure the Truth that each of us were meant to know for ourselves.

    Oh wait, you meant married in that traditional 'physical' sort of way. My bad ya'll.

    With Love,
    Infinite Truth

    September 29, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • realbuckyball

      It would be better if you stopped smoking that stuff.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Not if he/she is a Rasta.....

      September 29, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Infinite Truth

      But it gives me focus. Perhaps it's just the illusion of focus?

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

      Infinite Truth,

      Illusion or Reality is all in the perception. I enjoyed it either way.

      P.s. The with love is a welcome change to the atmosphere.


      September 29, 2012 at 1:09 am |
    • Infinite Truth

      Indeed Anan. Many of us perceive many things falsely as we mature over the years. We get stuck and set in our ways and beliefs. We are, in a stooper. But I like to think that most of us experience that moment in life where you suddenly realize that what you perceived to be True about something, was in fact not. In that instant the false perception of what we thought was True, the illusion, aligns with reality.

      Be always the learner. In everything you do. To know it all would be dull:)

      September 29, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Infinite Truth

      And thanks by the way. I'm glad you enjoyed it:)

      September 29, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Anan

      Infinite Truth,

      False perceptions happen in life as judgment occurs. Perceptions become broader with Acceptance. I desire to have no judgment upon another. A desire to begin. To begin without assumption. To judge only thy Self.

      Learning is indeed limitless. Love is limitless.

      My greatest life lesson ~ Love transcends all boundaries ~ Love with your entire being with no expectation of return

      September 29, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • Anan


      September 29, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Infinite Love


      Beautifully worded from top to bottom, and I completely agree.

      Infinte Truth

      September 29, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Anan

      Infinite Truth,

      Love transcends all boundaries in words came to me through a Thai tradition. This tradition is now instilled within me through the transcendance of love beyond boundaries. Love with your entire being with no expectation of return comes from within me.

      Ahimsa (Agreed & Thank you)


      September 29, 2012 at 4:14 am |
  18. Paul


    John 3:16 – "For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life."

    Now who is that jack ass telling me God has many son?
    Please shut your big mouth before moses sends a swarm of flies in there to shut it for you.
    You and your pathetic group always tries to distort the truth with no valid proof or record.
    You can keep your stupid theories to yourself or pass it down to your children if you want, but don't share it until you're matured enough to do so.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • realbuckyball

      A "son" of god, was a general honorific, such as "good guy". The fact that a believer wrote that into a text, says nothing, other than he believed it. You can't take what a believer says to tell you truth, any more than you could YOU telling yourself that.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  19. Gregory

    Hahahahah ..Now there's the pot calling the kettle black!

    September 29, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  20. bill wilkie

    I read the first 10 comments and nearly everyone is a psycho, an idiot, or an ignoramus.Amazing how they come out of the woodwork!

    September 29, 2012 at 12:36 am |
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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.