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. Skeptic Eclectic

    One would not have expected any other reaction from the Vatican. Next step will be to shoot the messenger. Will be interesting to see the evidence unfold unless some serious skull duggery results in evidence destruction...One prays for them all.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  2. chris

    Oh thats rich the vatican calling something fake

    September 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  3. McDuck Quackerton

    I'm guessing we won't see the follow-up story from the vatican newspaper informing people that jesus is also a fake eh?

    September 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  4. Grimmmm reaper

    Ha...fake..says the same people who claim the Shroud of Turin is real dispite a mountain of evidence otherwise. And the moon is made of green cheese.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • 1950's Sci-Fi Black and White B Movie

      Now reaper, we came to the moon to dispell those myths.

      September 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      Some of the evidence to which you are probably referring i.e. the carbon dating of samples may not be as reliable as you think.
      It seems the shroud was damaged during The Middle Ages and parts of it, notably the part from which the carbon dating samples were taken, were re-woven to repair some of the damage and the carbon dating process picked up a date from this
      period. It is quite possible that if the Vatican could be prevailed upon to allow samples to be taken from other areas on the shroud, we might discover that it is indeed 2000 years old. It has not been proven conclusively that this relic is a forgery.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • JFCanton

      In any case we don't know or even have a good idea how the medieval artist faked it, which is also necessary to be scientifically satisfied.

      The carbon date has a sort-of-low assigned certainty because the accuracy is dependent on an even distribution of carbon-14. It's the only measure we have, but it is reliant on a constant ratio of carbon-14. If an item were somehow surcharged with carbon-14, it would look newer to the dating calculation than it actually was.

      October 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  5. Doc Johnson

    In my research I have found that Mary Magdalene was in fact both consort and wife. A consort was simply a companion. If you read the scriptures, you will find that in the late BE and early CE, it was actually possible to both be married and single simultaneously.

    How you ask?

    You must refer to the Gnostic versus attributed to Phillip who said, "Be it spouse or alone, we are only that which our threshold allows on the Sabbath."

    Loosely translated it means a woman can be beholden to a man one day, and quite free the next. This makes polygamy possible without breaking God's law against Adultery.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Yugnok

      In your research...using the Gnostic Gospels. LOL.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  6. Jesus Christ

    You know, all I ever really said was to treat others as you want to be treated.
    I really didn't think that it was so difficult to understand.

    All the rest done in my name is starting to p!ss me off.........

    September 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Towelie

      You wanna get high Jesus?

      September 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Been there, am that.....

      September 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • pat o'brien


      September 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  7. Max in OC

    Big Deal... Who cares? Bible itself is fake

    September 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  8. bootyhoe

    and why should we believe the vatican??

    September 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  9. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    Pickle juice is just another name for cuc.u.mber pickle-ism, dill weed ism, sour tart of back yard garden, old cuc.u.mbers with another pickled lid mason jar, feed humanity based on how many jars-ism of picklys but tomatoes, okra, tomatoes too absolute american dill pickles in support of American bar food.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  10. Bills Cat

    And the Vatican was expected to say what? LOL Seriously. This bunch of old gangsters labels anything they don't like or agree with as a fake or fraud or error.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  11. Doc Johnson

    Jesus never actually said he believed in God. In fact, if you read the Bible you will learn that Jesus actually believed in what he called, "The Divine".

    What does this mean? Jesus, while inarticulate and a bit clumsy in general, had an excellent grasp of the fundamentals of what the Native Americans call, "Mother Earth" and what it is to be a "Human Being".

    How do we know this?

    Look at the teachings of Jesus in the Gnostic literature that relates to being reborn as a Snake, a Lizard, and a Spider. Why did Jesus feel he was reincarnated; and why these animals and insects? That is easy if you read the Gospel of Mary.

    Mary had many pet names for her lover and among them were Snake, Lizard, and Spider. Snake and Lizard I can understand, but the passages relative to Spider are less clear.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • ME III

      Hi Doc, You have some interesting comments here. Thanks. When I have time I will reread my Gnostic sources. In any case, its best to take all sources, Gnostic and traditional and mesh them to get the full picture, but too few people look at the Gnostic side. Gospel of Mary really rocks though (I think the Gospel of Mary makes the most sense and really explains everything well, even in its fragmentary form), and Andrew's is pretty cool too. Reading them before I saw no direct evidence of Bhuddism. (Also which Bhuddism do you refer to, there are so many schools and divergent opinions within Bhuddism).

      September 29, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  12. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    So is Jets ism football sim, stupid toe sucker gets lap band ism nfl

    September 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  13. Doh!!

    What were fake were Jesus' wifes org.asms...

    September 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Mrs. Christ

      "No, it's just perfect honey, it's the perfect size. Everything about you is perfect, really, it's fine..."

      September 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • WreckemTech

      "Oh God, Oh my God!!.....not the heavenly father, I mean you darling......Oh my God!! (Did I leave the goat outside?)"

      September 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  14. Doc Vestibule

    Shysters used to make a lot of money selling "Holy Relics" to Catholic rubes.
    Heck – the Church itself used to make a ton of cash selling indulgences to Catholic rubes.
    the moral of the story: there are a lot of catholic rubes.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • ME II

      Why discriminate... there are a lot of rubes, period.

      September 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Amniculi


      September 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  15. 2357

    Most prestigious museums have fake artifacts in their collection. Perception almost always overrules the facts when it comes to old evidence. We are forced to rely on imagination, and oftentimes it boils down to intention of parties involved. Much of what we call proof is shifting sand.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      So is hindu Mithra sim, pagan savior ism called Christianity.

      September 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  16. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

    If you can pickle cucu.mbers, who are we to day you can't pickle okra and tomatoes?

    September 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Pickled okra is a thing...

      September 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      filthy pickled ism okra absurd 180 eggs pickled by filthy racist pickles

      September 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      Absurdity of a ID thief, goon ism. Fake like papy'rus.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  17. Doc Johnson

    The evidence would suggest that Judas, Mary, Jesus and others spent a great deal of their down time reflecting on the spiritual dichotomy of the soul vs. the physical and how that relates to the teachings of God.

    Why did they do this? Jesus was attracted to Buddhism and often rested his decisions on the non-bias imaginings of one who would make sacrifice in this life only to be reborn in the next.

    In short, Jesus was a Jew by birth, but not by practice. He taught his own flavor of Buddhism and his closest disciples, Judas and Mary for example, were quite sure he was a snake in a previous life.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      hinduism ,absurdity of a hindu, ignorant, Tibetan Buddha learned things from captive 10 tribes of Israel and modified hinduism pagan ism from their book Pushtha and called it Buudh ism, hindu, pagan Buddha had no concept of truth absolute, but used copied knowledge to promote hinduism, pagan ism.

      September 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Jesus was quite real, and quite human. Even Timothy and Philip knew the true nature of Christ, as evidenced in this passage from the Gospel of Philip, "...and our Lord came unto me and witnessed as I behaved without intimidation."

      Scholars believe this is evidence of group s.e.x.u.a.l activity, common place at this time in history among men afield.

      September 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      Goon ism, absurdity of a Navi A (PBUH), ignorant, Chinese Mullah learned things from captive 10 tribes of Kush and modified Theen ism sodo ism from their book Co-ran and called it Wannabe ism, Jihad, pagan Mullad had no concept of truth absolute, but used copied knowledge to promote Theen ism, crook.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Bootsaba

      It took guts to tell this story, and I'm deeply proud of you for shrniag it. I'm also touched by the comments here; you've clearly made a difference by taking the bold step to talk about such a painful time in your life and how it ultimately led to all the blessings we're shrniag together today. I love you.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  18. sam stone

    Wow, Vatican called them a fake. And we know that those at the Vatican are held to the highest ethical standard. Someone get us in touch with Cardinal Law

    September 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      How can you mistrust and organization with such a long and illustrious history of fantastic haberdashery?

      September 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

    it's their religion their beliefs, who are we to dispute?

    September 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  20. Bill Deacon

    My implication to the mosque fires is that in the event someone set the fire whom the media cannot spin for their purposes is arrested we will never know it. In the event the Vatican is shown to be correct in it's assessment that the Coptic fragment is a forgery, we will never know it. These types of articles are only allowed to stay int he news cycle to the extent they perpetuate the agenda of the media.

    And yes, I would take the opinion of the Vatican expert seriously, especially if it is backed up by other parties as was the case with the Shroud of Turn.

    September 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Whoops, thought I clicked reply. Must be a mouse failure. Someone call the Vatican!

      September 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • ME II

      If by "agenda of the media" you mean ratings and ad money, I wouldn't disagree. Sensationalism abounds and corrections can only be found in section Z p29 3 weeks after the fact.

      September 28, 2012 at 4:23 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.