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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. saggyroy

    Well the Vatican is infallible on these matters. Next.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  2. Sabrina Desiree J

    Karen King of Harvard has an 'agenda', she is a member of the 'Jesus Seminar', a clearly anti-Christianity organization that wants to denigrate Jesus to just another 'itinerate preacher' and factual reports of His Risen self as 'just visions'. That's the problem with 'professors', they take the easy way out and never find out who THEY are, because they like the naive adoration of their college students (aka 'just kids out on their own for the first time'). These 'professors' like Ms. King push their own agenda and what that agenda is.... WHO CARES??? She is NOT the feminist she thinks she is, she's a coward who simply stayed in school rather than go out on her own and do something original and innovative. Unfortunately the kids see their professors as 'icons'... at least until a year or two after they graduate from school and are living in the REAL world. Baloney is what she is selling, and the cheap version too, like what you'd find at the cheap grocery stores where the shopping carts are rusted, you know the kind. Yeah, I don't shop there either.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • barfly

      we know who really likes children, now dont we

      September 29, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • DTB

      You've been brainwashed a bit too much me thinks

      September 29, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Paranoia

      Wow, are you a Christian or someone who holds a grudge against underprivileged shopping? WWJD? I think shop where the carts are rusted. Most religions are elitist at their core, and clearly yours is no exception.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Dan

      The only reason that you believe that Christ is the son of god is that you were brainwashed from the day you were born into believing that you would be thrown into a it of fire if you didn't believe exactly what you were told. And the only way you can answer this new finding is to personally attack someone for daring not to buy into the same crock that you do? Sorry, not a particularly impressive argument, but a typically christian one!

      September 29, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  3. EPAB

    Fake?? The vatican thinks the pedophilia scandal was a fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Richard

      Sabrina, I hope you are receiving therapy for your delusions.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  4. once so fooled twice wary

    OF COURSE . . JESUS WAS MARRIED TO MARY MAGDALENE . RABBIs HAD TO MARRY. THE ROMAN CELIBATE CHURCH WITH THE ITALIAN BEGINNINGS+ LANDS WERE INHEIRITED AND PROTECTED FOR THE PRICE OF THE "SACRIFICE" OF THE PRINCELY SONS AND THE FAMILY WEALTH AND FOR THE CREATION OF A NEW TYPE OF NOBILITY .

    September 29, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  5. barfly

    vatican: pedo analising butt busting priests: real

    September 29, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • saggyroy

      Blasphemer !

      September 29, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  6. bandomak

    The immediate "It's a fake" response is the standard knee-jerk reaction from the Vatican. The Catholic church has constantly had to adjust itself as new information became available to it's flock. The world is round...the earth revolves around the sun...evolution provides the explaination for the diversity of life on earth...Jesus (like most young Jewish men of the era) may have been married. They simply look foolish. The appropriate reaction would have been to look at the opinion of the experts and agree that this small piece of papyrus is an iteresteng artifact, it cannot prove anything about the historical Jesus on it's own and it is really quite insignificant in the realm of biblical history. The Vatican needs to shed the remainder of it's belligerence toward knowledge and embrace a more intelligent humanity.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • barfly

      historical ? now that's hysterical

      September 29, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  7. Ithinkso

    He was born, had followers, died at what 33 years old as a virgin?? He was JEWISH and prob. married because if you were a Rabbi you got married. Nice how is short life, things were 'left out' I think Jesus was married.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • saggyroy

      It is the typical hero myth common in most hero mythologies: You are born and an attempt is made on your life. Nothing said until you reach adulthood when you perform miracles, are killed, and taken into heaven. The Hecules story also follows this pattern.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Pagan72

      Jesus was NOT married in the physical world. He Married Isis after His Ascenscion.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Dionysus

      @Ithinkso
      I think he just needed a f*ag hag for show. In my day being BI was not a big deal; these catholicc guys are scary, they don't practice what they preach, suffer the little children indeed.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  8. Ralph

    Faith is believing what you want to believe. Science is believing what you have to believe. Religious statement is made and must be accepted with out question because it is divinely inspired. Scientific statement must stand the test over time and must be changed, altered, or refuted depending on its merit.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • saggyroy

      Science is accepting the facts.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Shane

      So what happens when those religions statements are wrong.

      Earth's age, people living for hundreds of years, giants, all things that have been disproven and yet, people still believe them.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  9. nottolate

    @maxmaxwell

    "Now that, was the best satire I have read in my life, thanks."

    Not when you quickly realize how ignorant he actually is it ain't. All he'd have to do is read a bible but he's to lazy. That satire is just sad actually.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  10. Ralph

    Faith is believing what you want to believe. Since is believing what you have to believe. Religious statement is made and must be accepted with out question because it is divinely inspired. Scientific statement must stand the test over time and must be changed, altered, or refuted depending on its merit.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

      "Religious statement is made and must be accepted with out question because it is divinely inspired." MUST be accepted without question? Okay, sure. Remember Jonestown? The Heaven"s Gate suicides? What about the 9-11 attacks? And then there was the heyday of the KKK in the U.S. The fact is, people have to rely on the word of other human beings to determine what is really "divinely inspired" - I've never personally met anyone that spoke directly with God. Therefore, "faith" is deciding whether or not to beleive what other PEOPLE say about religion. The KKK and Al Qaeda terrorised and killed people in the name of relgions that, others would say, were perverted for thier own purposes.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  11. Lion

    I tink the discovery Of the papyrus and the words making notation to "Jesus said to them my wife" as Prof Karen King properly stated, the info ration written does not absolutely support one way or the other that Jesus was married, but the dating of the papyrus is authentic. Who is to say or not to say that Jesus was married. It would be a major change to the Catholic church, then on the other hand there is much information contained by the Vatican that is not released to the general public. The finding is authentic and is not disputed. That is was written long after Jesus death, well so Christianity only evovled long after Jesus death, and those of his decibels . People should be allowed to believer what they want to believe . History is only based upon what information has been gathered. History itself is not cast in stone, it is always open for discussion and change as new historical artifacts are found. The question is why is the Vatican so quick to call the finding a fake!!!! Let's ask ourselves what if other findings come with information that Jesus was married, is Jesus being married that harmful to the Vatican and the Catholic faith??

    September 29, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  12. JanetMermaid

    Yes because all these dress-wearing, old, perverts know science better than actual, you know... SCIENTISTS.

    Here's something these yahoos refuse to acknowledge. Let's just think logically and historically about this for a bit... If the Jesus story is true (or even if he was just a philosopher in his day) he supposedly didn't find out about his divine purpose until he was 30. Until that point he and everyone else just assumed he was another average person. Jewish law and tradition dictates that he was married and had kids. There would have been no reason for him NOT to marry.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  13. Pagan72

    Jesus is married to Isis. He has been since He Ascended.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • saggyroy

      Ascended? I thought he was going out for a pack of cigarettes, and would be right back.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Pagan72

      He was not married in the material world. He is Married to Isis, Whom is the Queen Of All Creation.
      Mary, Mother Of God, is The Ruler Of The Galaxy.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Pagan72

      It sounds so weird. And, it IS. But think: isn't the whole world weird?

      September 29, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  14. nottolate

    Vatican newspaper calls fragment referring to Jesus' wife 'a fake'

    True. But so is the Catholic Church.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  15. ShawnDH

    It's fake because we say so...that's why!

    September 29, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  16. JohnH

    Absolutely! Anything that throws crap on their colossal fairy tale has gotta be fake, right?

    September 29, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Pagan72

      ..it would help if the entire passage was known. Jesus never HAD a wife. But? "If ya think he did", right?
      It was obvviously symbolism. He wasn't married until he ascended.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • nottolate

      @JohnH

      "Absolutely! Anything that throws crap on their colossal fairy tale has gotta be fake, right?"

      So what children's fairy tale you know governs finance and what interest rate you charge in lending to others? Or what children's fairy tale you know deals with how not to get an infection? Yours is mindless dribble. You've never actually read it. You're just repeating what somebody else said before you finding it appealing. You're ignorant and you like it that way.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  17. LS

    It is not in the church's best interest for any truth to come out. It might make people question the whole shabang.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Pagan72

      Tell me of Joseph Smith and his vast love of humanity.. hey, Mitt, get in on this..

      September 29, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  18. Colin

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of:

    (a) The ancient Celts;

    (b) Bronze Age Egyptians;

    (c) Pre-Colombian Aztecs; or

    (d) Modern Catholics

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are:

    (a) a reptile handler who has severe mental issues;

    (b) a five year old boy who just read a fairytale;

    (c) a scientific fraud; or

    (d) a Catholic

    I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Catholic

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist

    (d) A Catholic with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Catholic

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from Catholicism:

    (a) Catholicism tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Catholicism can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas Catholicism is regional and a person’s Catholicism, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than geographical upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • maxmaxwell

      Now that, was the best satire I have read in my life, thanks.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • liz

      you sir, just made my day!

      September 29, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • sphere82

      brilliant! and true, too.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Shane

      Best thing I've read all morning

      September 29, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  19. ipmutt

    Who in their right mind would come to CNN for information about faith in anything other than left wing deaotury

    September 29, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • bandomak

      apparently you would

      September 29, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  20. Pagan72

    Thank God the Catholic Church weighed in. When the Priests aren't weighing in little kids to molest, that is. I'm sure the Church, worth billions, knows best. Do what you're told, mind you.

    September 29, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • LS

      Yes, indeed!

      September 29, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Pagan72

      ..I almost converted to Mormonism a couple of years back. I'd rather destroy the priests of Catholicism than try to be a fool believing in some kid named Joseph Smith ("Our prophet!"). In all, I'd rather go to hell rather then figure them out.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:03 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.