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. John

    Did anyone really expect the Vatican to say otherwise??? God forbid there would be a woman involved. Like all religions, they lie and say what they want to support their lunacies.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  2. Jesus

    Just to set the record straight-I was never married-I prefer the company of men

    September 29, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Dionysus

      I think everyone knew that. Was your "beloved disciple" john really your favorite or was it simon peter? I think simon was putting out way more than john and was jelous of him? None of my business, just wondering.

      September 29, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  3. agathokles

    How can the Vatican condemn it as "fake" when they haven't examined it in person? Anyway.... I don't understand all the fuss over this. A fragment leaving off at "... my wife..." could have many different endings: "my wife, if I had one, would..." or "my wife is the church, but the rest of you gotta do what you gotta do." And even if it literally refers to Jesus' wife, it serves as no evidence he actually had one. It's just the belief of some Coptic dude living long after Jesus. If it says anything, it says more about the beliefs of the group to which the writer belonged that it says about historical reality. There are all sorts of strange beliefs written about by fringe groups. Imagine some archaeologist 2000 years from now coming across the Book of Mormon and claiming it says something historically accurate about the origins of indigenous American peoples. I rest my case.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  4. Lee

    God, religion has caused more wars and animosity that any thing in modern times. And who is it that speaks to an imaginary person in heaven, No, no atheist but agnostic.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Outside The Vatican

      "Region has caused more deaths" is well-worn crap. Add up Hitler-Stalin-Pol Pot and a few more beauties and do the math.

      September 29, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  5. Richard

    Of course, they know it is a fake. Christianity is their scam, they invented it, and they didn't invent it with Jesus having a wife.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  6. Bman

    Yes, yes, nice pronouncement. Now where's the Butler? Mind explaining the dungeon you have him, in and the methods of torture you're using?

    September 29, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  7. BurnNotice

    Take the word of old men who parade around in dresses pretending that they don't have a penis?

    September 29, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  8. Pagan72

    Muslims are fake, Hindus are fake, Buddhists are fake. Pagans are fake, Satanists are fake. The whole thing in a nutshell. Now, everyone is a fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Pagan72

      ..we all knew what was coming. The Christians are the biggest fakes of them all. Oh, ha ha, hee hee.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • saggyroy


      September 29, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  9. mentalRay

    The earth is not 6000 years old-If you want to believe in the invisible man in the sky-good luck with that!!

    September 29, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  10. Christie Ley

    Considering the fact that it would have been very unusual for a Jewish man in those times not to have been married, I do not see how the possibility of Jesus having been so can be so totally discounted. Is the idea that he may have been so threatening to the churches foundation that they are unwilling to even look at the possibility. His having been married does not change his teachings, it just shows that he was a man.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  11. barfly

    what do priests, sandusky, and caviar have in common ? they all come on little white crakrz

    September 29, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Pagan72

      Caviar is dark in color.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  12. suds

    How can you dismiss without investigation. Nothing is known about jesus's personal life. Why not understand jesus better by knowing his personal life and about his life from 14 to 30 years.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • mentalRay

      Why doesn't someone just "make up" the rest of the story. Christians seem to believe anything they're told anyway

      September 29, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • saggyroy

      @MentalRay because someone would have to climb a mountain or something, and see a burning whale for 3 days, and then turn peanut butter into jelly.....it's just a hassle....

      September 29, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  13. barfly

    all religions are fake, not just yours

    September 29, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  14. isolotus

    Mary Magdalene got thrown under the bus by the Paul, Peter, Mark and Luke.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Pagan72

      Right. But Mary Magdalene was never Jesus Christ's wife OR woman. Think about that.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  15. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    It's either a fake or the Vatican and their "celebate" priests have it all wrong .. so voila .. it's a fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Pagan72

      I like the younger Mona Lisa painting too.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      or the fake shroud of Turin .. or is that real? Depends which day you ask "the church" .

      September 29, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  16. NO to blasphemy

    If the Lord was married the Bible would have mentioned that. As someone well articulated on this blog before , references to 'wife' and 'bride' are made as it relates to God's people.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      So wife means "gods people" .. another article says it means "the church" & in another it's his mission. There's always an explanation for what the church needs to keep secret or to protect the fact that they don't know something. and the followers do what followers do .. follow.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • barfly

      which bible ????????? thats right, of course you thought you and yours had the only one


      September 29, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • suseJoToN

      Jesus, as detailed in the bible, is a fake.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • His Mission, His Purpose

      God's purpose on earth was very clear and that was to save mankind from their sins.

      "For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
      ~ John 3

      September 29, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  17. Lee-Anne

    Well, here we go. Let the Catholic bashing begin. Sigh. Love how tolerant the left dictates we should be, but you can almost guarantee that an article involving the Catholic Church (or any Christian faith) will instantly have someone on here saying how uneducated people must be for having faith or some joke about Catholic priests and boys. It does get a bit old after awhile.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Pagan72

      It wouldn't get so old if it weren't so true.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Lee-Anne

      @ Pagan72 – What is true? That you must be uneducated to believe in God. Not at all. Many educated people have faith.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • jd

      let he who is without sin throw the first stone.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Dionysus

      Read and answer Colins posts on pages 16/17 and it just might convince you that you have been severly deluded. It would also help if you did not fund your delusion, the Vatican and the vicar of christ on earth have more than enough. The derision directed at the catholics is what they hane earned by their actions.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • saggyroy

      Like shooting Jesus Fish in a barrel.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  18. jeff

    I find it ironic that the very same people that come to these boards to bash christians, blame a video that uses satire to bash Islam for the uprising in Lybia and Egypt and support restricting free speech.

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

      You find it ironic because like the majority of Americans, you don't actually know what the word means.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • saggyroy

      The majority of posts I have seen blame islam for the video riots.

      September 29, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • barfly

      i bash all herd mentality, not just yours

      September 29, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  19. Colin in Florida

    Just like in the bible: We say it is fake, so therefore it is fake. No evidence given-just "Substantial reasons".

    September 29, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • barfly

      which bible ??? oh yeah, you all always think that you have the truth ? typical herd mentality

      September 29, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  20. barfly

    dear nazi poope phaggatron: why when i fart does it sound like wind blowing thru a barn ????????????????

    September 29, 2012 at 9:30 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.