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. Snoopy1013

    Color me shocked that the Vatican doesn't believe this! Remember it was celebrate, not celibate...

    September 29, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  2. suibne

    poor vatican......still working on the premise that there is truth in the news. the real is all that counts and the reality is that the lie is now in print all over the net. that is all that counts. and the outlets that published could care less if it's true or false. it's always been that way about all public media, even when the church itself was the new source.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  3. Charles_1

    Who cares whether Jesus was married or not. I don't see how that changes anything.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      It changes the very premise of the Catholic church's requirement of having "unmarried" celebate priests .. because Jesus wasn't married. The Catholic church cannot be proven to be wrong on anything!

      September 29, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • OTOH

      @If horses,

      Not really. Celibacy was optional for many centuries.


      September 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • ChuckB

      If Jesus were man/God at the same time then why would it be a surprise if he married. If he were only man it also wouldn't be a surpirse. It would be a little bit of one if he were totally God. What would be the result is that the Church's dogma on the nature of Christ would have to be revaluated; the whole issue of the Triune God would have to be redebated.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Thank you OTOH .. I was thinking in more current terms.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • MongolsEnslavedCaucasians

      It says the 144,000 will also be vrgins that were not defiled by women. Jesus was busy casting demons out of women. Jesus does have a quasi-bride in waiting, the church of believers collectively. The marriage occurs at the rapture.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • ChuckB

      Mongols, have you ever given much thought to the connotation of the Church (in this case one assumes this means all of its members) being the "Bride of Christ." The nuns being the "brides of Christ" is fairly conventional, but all the members of the Church?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  4. tothepoint

    The anonymous fellow who owns this fragment is purportedly intersted in selling it, and the rest of his collection of ancient manuscripts. This level of hype has to be hugely profitable for him. I can imagine the wealthy secular humanist community is anxious to procure such an item for their sense of self gratification. It is always the same. Mankind is smarter than God, richer than God, has more power than God, and places their perceived brialliance as a pedestal to proudly proclaim there is no God but my brilliance, wealth or power.

    Anyone who is a believer that Jesus is the Christ understands that Spiritual matters are discerned spiritually. The knowledge that he was who he claimed to be and that his mission was to provide our spirits and bodies a pathway back to our Father is not taught to us by ancient writings, but through the whisperings to our spirits.

    Modern arrogant secular humanists believe they are so smart they see through a scheme, but in fact they have just switched off their spiritual receptors to the point they truly believe Man is nothing more than a bag of meat with a powerful computer animating the meat. So sad to see the attacks on the Catholic Church here. I am not Catholic but revere their spiritual desire to know Christ, and find the attacks so disturbing.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  5. Harvey

    Of course the Vatican is going to say its fake. They do not allow their clergy to marry. If Jesus was married, it would throw the argument they should be like Christ right out the window. The reason the church does allow their clergy to marry and to remain celibate has nothing to do with piety. It has everything to do with money.

    When their clergy passes on. the church wants to inherit everything. They don't want offspring getting between them and all that wonderful money.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  6. Akira

    Is it fake because they scientifically tested it, or is it fake because they say it's fake?

    September 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  7. RainCityLady

    Oh, good grief! Why does anyone care? It makes more sense that as an adult Jewish male, he would have been married. If not, then maybe he was gay. How would you like that, Catholics and Evangelicals? Doesn't THAT just crack your faces! If you truly followed the sermons of Christ, you'd be far more accepting of the human condition in all its forms and less preoccupied with forcing your agendas on others.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Rick Shaw

      God as man (Jesus) had far too important a mission here to marry. Your stupid comments reveal not only your complete lack of understanding, but your corrupt sense of logic and morality. By your ideal, people of faith are supposed to acknowledge the "human condition" and therefore dispense with God's standards.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  8. Walt Peterson

    The fragment may be a fake. But the question of whether or not Jesus was married is unresolved. There is no definitive statement in the Gospels one way or the other.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  9. Kris L

    The Vatican only gives the piece validity when it makes statements like this. If they hadn't, this whole story may have gone away for a long time. But instead, the Vatican as it has done since the Council of Trent, refuses to believe in anything that wasn't specifically chosen to be biblical canon. This, despite hundreds of years of evidence of other writings during the time of the Apostles.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  10. gager

    There is as much evidence of Jesus existing as there is of the Easter Bunny. I like the bunny much better.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  11. gager

    Since CNN has a belief blog I think they should have an Evidence blog. That would offer reason and logic to balance this nonsense.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  12. Moses

    Oh yes, we know how well the Vatican does on science...flat earth, anyone? Galileo? Copernicus?

    September 29, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • WilliamPenn

      Their record's as good as Al Gore's on climate.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • OTOH


      The concept of a spherical Earth was well established by the time the Vatican came about - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_Earth and I know of no pronouncement by them that the Earth is flat.

      Correct on the others, though.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Joe

      Do you honestly think that a business card size supposedly 3rd century fragment from the Nag Hammaddi Gnostics which no credible Bible scholar has ever recognized as being anything but a cult, presented by a feminist from Harvard is actually science?

      September 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Tim Printer

      Yikes. Any intelligent debate on the Church's views on science can't include hurling insults such as yours. The truth about the Vatican and science is really skewed by popular beliefs and urban legends. For example, the modern calendar is a result of the application of astronomical research and science by a pope's command to correct the Julian calendar. This order was given by Pope Gregory XIII while Galileo was just beginning his research activities (1582). If we need to be insulting to one's Church, this is probably not the forum to do it.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Norman

      Galileo was a typical intellect, which means he's likely to be arrogant (against the idea of accepting others' ideas); He wanted ALL of his teachings to be taught by ALL of the church (even though the Church said- "Go ahead, you can teach your theories but we need more evidence to change the whole Church's teaching")- Since the Church didn't honor his wishes he publicly denounced the Church so he was excommunicated... He also taught that the Sun was the center of the Universe, and was WRONG on that, so I guess it's a good thing the Church invented the laws of evidence too huh?
      In addition to inventing college, and the PhD program... Yea, I'd say the Church really knows her stuff actually and it seems like you know something about science, but upon looking at the history book, did you ever open and read it?... Or did you hear the one sentence 'history lesson' given by all the world's sharpest and most arrogant minds' today in that "Galileo was kicked out" and then think that was the entire story?
      Look I'm all for figuring out the world scientifically, but why do so many people so intent on learning science never learn anything about the human heart or what's going on in their own mind?... Will they not like what they find?

      September 29, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Tom Phillips

      Obviously youare greatly ignorant of the Vaticans sponsorship of science. Perhaps you are unaware that one of the 3 theorists of the Big Bang theory was a Belgian priest sponsored by the Vatican. The Church has sponsored science investigations for many centuries. It is a shame that history is obviously no longer taught in the public schools!

      September 29, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  13. Eric

    This makes sense, since Jesus was likely fake also.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Guest

      WRONG! He's DOES exist, oh ye, of little faith!

      September 29, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • JPX

      The Vatican lives in a world of cognitive dissonance. Of course they have to deny that Jesus had a wife otherwise they would have to acknowledge that everything they have always believed is wrong, which all religion is anyway. Religion is so silly.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • pjc722

      The one thing many people forget is that JESUS was a very common name. Whether or not it's a fake, if its real it could EASILY refer to another Jesus.

      Why media don't call that out is just stupid.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • WilliamPenn

      Careful not to say that about Muhammed. Barack Hussein Obama will have you in the cell next to Nakoula.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • JS0055

      I guess you will know if you are right when u kick the bucket, won't you?

      September 29, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  14. JohnnyP

    Christianity has its points about which criticism and doubt can be raised. It amazes me though, how much angry nonsense is on display here, and it is so angry and sad in tone! I suspect these people are much more likely to throw venom at the Church than Mao or Stalin. I do not understand it.

    It seems likely that Jesus was a charismatic and peaceful teacher who died what appeared to be a martyr's death. It seems that both He and those around him believed that this death made a real relationship with God possible. His morality was not much different than other great moral teachers in many ways, the call to peace, giving and love are not uniquely Christian. Was it is unique is the claim that by offering Himself to the cross a door was opened. It also appears that people claiming to be eyewitnesses to the resurrection were willing to die than deny it. Of course, Muslims and others will die for faith as well, but in this case a fledgling faith had many willing to die stating they had seen something with their own eyes and were not merely convinced. This does not make it true, but is compelling.

    The church and Christians have not behaved perfectly, but the idea the Christians, or other believers in God, are more destructive than atheists is demonstrably false, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin and Hitler and countless other small players prove this. I think this is more about being angry that Christianity, like most faiths and peoples throughout history, have called themselves "moral". This, is, I think, the core of the rage. If you want to see a world without faith, read 1984.

    As for the claim the Jesus was married, this is really, really flimsy.

    I love you all, God Bless.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Eric

      Stalin was an athiest, but Hitler was Catholic, and believed he was doing god's work.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • JS0055

      to Eric: Stalin was priest in training when he was young turned atheist later...know your history facts

      September 29, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • whoopthereitis

      Hitler was indeed a member of the Catholic church. But your argument that he sincerely thought that he was doing "God's work" is inaccurate. He cynically used religion to the extent it furthered his own political ends. Kind of like how Obama conveniently decided to convert to Christianity in order to further his own political career...

      September 29, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Myself

      @ eric ... Hitler, though born into a lukewarm Catholic family, was not a Catholic. He never claimed to be doing God's work, instead he was quite clear that he only worked to rebuild and strengthen Germany. It helps to know what your talking about when trying to have a conversation. Try reading Mein Kampf.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Jason D

      Lovely couple of paragraphs.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Jason D

      I'm replying to JohnnyP of course.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  15. Ahmed marei

    I I think that the Vatican point of view is absolutely right . The way the Christ was created and sent to earth denies clearly any allegation that he would ever have a wife. Remember that he was created in a pure shape from the sin that we all inherited from Satan while whispering to Adam and Eve.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Mike

      ... And fossils were just something the Jews buried in 1834

      September 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • JPX

      Wow, it must be nice to live in your simplistic world. Rather than science you believe that a magical man lives in the sky and cares about what you pray for.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • JS0055

      To:JPX ...I believe in Big Band, evolution and etc....and so do I believe in GOD, one universal energy and mind that created it all. One does not exclude another.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  16. pprty

    Gee, I could tell it was a fake just looking at the stupid picture!

    September 29, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  17. DB

    And may Salt Lake City be next...

    September 29, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  18. DB

    Of course the filthy pedophiles think it is fake. May the Vatican be utterly destroyed by a nuke.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:14 am |

      You are a sick disturbed individual.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  19. vienners

    Of course it is Vatican. So is the child abuse by your own.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  20. Peter

    You people who believe this is real are so confused. What's your problem? Why do you want this to be real? There is 0 evidence anywhere that this is true.

    September 29, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      There is zero evidence or any god or jesus like myth.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • SixDegrees

      There is zero evidence that anything in the old or new testament is real, either.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • JS0055

      And those who don't are so shortsighted and narrow minded. Scientists discover more and more mysteries of the Universe, and we only scraping the bottom of the barrel. Only insect like thinking people that are only looking down and never up do not have the ability to understand that God is energy and alpha in omega and one single mind that created a Big Bang. I love science and all the mysteries, but till you come back and can prove once single theory how the Big Band happen do declare that there is not God, because you have NOT proof of it.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • sixin

      You guys really shouldn't blurt out things you aren't educated on. It makes you look like fools and confused.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • JS0055

      And you have proof that GOD does not exist? Or have evidence or proof how the Big Bang happened????? You do NOT, so this is ONLY your opinion.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:28 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
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.