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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. nik green

    That's a bit rich, coming from the Vatican, that organization specializing in mass manipulation and lies. It took them over 450 years to apologize to Humanity for its treatment of Galileo, for speaking the truth!

    September 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  2. Doc Johnson

    In the Gospel of Mary we read, "...and so he came out from the shadow, heavy in hand and much more so than when he entered. It was our Lord."

    To further quantify this concept, Phillip states, "...the 12 were but fugitives but beholden to Him."

    Scholars feel certain that, among the many exploits of Jesus and the apostles, he was the original "Robin Hood” and the 12 the “Merry Men” if you will.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Richie Conway

      Doc. What scholars? Scholars of the gnostic texts? The gnostic texts aren't even taken as legit historical evidence from a secular nor religious point of view. So how are you elevating them to the gospels?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • YBP

      Doc, I think you are probably aware that the best scholars (Borg, Carrier, Crossan, Funk, Fredriksen, Levine, Mack, Pagels, Price, Sanders, Vermes) tell us that the Gospels are re-writes of the OT and other ficticious legends of the ancient world – a world of demons, sea monsters, astrology and alchemy, and zero mass media. It's a literary style of the period called midrash – new and additional fiction used to illustrate an idea. That's what legit scholars tell us. And the more one investigates any of the OT or the NT or the Nag Hammadi Library or the Dead Sea Scrolls, the more one learns of who wrote this literature, where, when and why (politically), and the less there is to believe in, which is to say, that there is actually nothing. Because it is not history. It's hagiography. It's allegory. It's belief-based politics. It's propaganda. It's a total shambles from a backwards time and place, a place that even today, no sane person would ever set foot in. Discussing Christ as a child, or Mary as his spouse is like discussing the life and times of Hercules, Horus or Isis...Zeus, Thor or Moses...Santa, Yoda or Harry Potter. None of them actually existed in real life, only in literature. And scholars have no proof that they ever did. Only the feeling (of some, not all) that they must have existed because people believed they did and said that they did. And let's take a closer look at those fearful, uneducated Iron and Bronze Age people who believed. I wouldn't trust them for information about anything. Saul of Tarsus' letters are the earliest in the NT. About half of them are forgeries. Saul knew nothing of an historical Jesus. He offers no biographical information, and no quotes. (The eucharistic liturgy doesn't count, because it is liturgy, not history.) If he knew of any such information, he would have incorporated it into his letters. He writes about Christ Jesus, which translates to The Anointed The Savior, Allegorical name, allegorical figure.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  3. Doc Johnson

    While we know very little of Christ as a child, what little doc.u.mentation we have paints the picture of a normal, if solitary young man.

    For example, in the Gospel of Truth we read, "...this boy, though recognized and cared for in kind, found comfort in solitude and great noises and raucous cacophony would pursue him"

    Scholars agree that as a young man, Jesus did seek relief and perhaps had special gifts.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • End Religion

      jesus didn't exist but as a child he would have been something like this:

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAWXkp08RHE&w=640&h=360]

      September 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Vince

    None of this matters. It's all fodder for the human mind. It doesn't bring one person one millimeter closer to God. Just forget it and follow the TEACHINGS of Christ. Or, learn through trial and error the truth of life. Ultimately, we're all on the same path to Truth. Some need more convincing than others. No matter.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  5. Gary Rath

    The Harvard Divinity School is a reliable source and the preliminary analysis is that it dates around the 4th century and is probably a copy of an earlier Greek text. That the Vatican would dismiss this finding out of hand is telling.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Richie Conway

      Gary- they're dismissing it as not being anything of value. It goes along with gnostic messages. If you look at the translation of it, it's very scattered as to what the message is. It takes equal disciphering to determine that as to determine from the bible already says about Christ's relationships. so it's a useless finding either way.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  6. felix el gato

    The vatican is the real fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      If we read in the Gnostic "Gospel of Jesus" we find this, "...I have the key and the charge. Care not of wine or pity but for me."

      Scholars agree that this passage was clearly the ancestor of John's gospel and was poorly interpreted. In fact what is being said is the following;
      Jesus and his friends ('disciples") were involved in one of their many endeavors, in this case the ancient equivalent of a "door man" and a "bartender"

      September 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  7. W.G.

    The Bible mentions His Mom his StepFather and on many occasion his real Father. It also mentions his
    brothers and sisters and his cousin , uncle and aunt. Why wouldn´t it mention a wife ? Because there was no wife . Mary Magdeline was not Jesus´s wife . Over 500 people saw Jesus rise into the air and ascend into heaven that´s mentioned
    in the Bible . But no wife because there was never any wife .

    September 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      If you read the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip, you will see that, "...indeed I say unto you that we are but drops in the sea, each one a ripple makes..."

      Phillip goes on to say that, "...be not one but part of the whole. Be not in disconnect, but hold firmly and endure…”

      Scholars believe these two passages are very revealing. What do they reveal?

      Jesus, being deaf, identified with "Mother Earth" in such a way that swimming and wrestling were very enjoyable to him, and this is something he wanted to share with his disciples...

      September 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  8. Donald LaCroix

    "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..."

    What a ludicrous way to posit an unproven untruth–to give truth and untruth equal possibility when there is no evidence to do so. Agenda's to distort the living Christ continue 2000 years later-that the savior might be reduced to mere man.
    Nice try!

    September 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  9. JBar595

    Chances are this woman is a far left wing liberal and this find is being used to cast further doubt on the Christian religion and it's history

    September 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      This theme and others lend themselves to some staggering conclusions. Based on the evidence we have, it is clear now that the disciples of Jesus were in fact in business with him and equal partners.

      How do we know this?

      In the Timothy Gospel we read, "...and at our table will Phillip score our keep. Speak in turn and in fairness. Ours is the mutual trust"

      I think it is clear that these thirteen men sought profit and most likely in textiles.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  10. freddie

    The part that is torn off probably says something like. ....Jesus' wife was a 10 year boy that was also his favorite altar boy.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • JBar595

      No, what it says is your a sick individual and need help from a mental health expert.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Donald LaCroix

      See your shrink, hatred and anger at God's church becomes obsessive to some people.
      This is about Jesus, not priests who refused to follow their Catholic faith.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • freddie

      ha ha ha ha ha I'm a catholic born and raised. There is no god. Fools.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  11. Johnny Haynes

    There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Violence stems from a lack of freedom. Hate is born of intolerance. But from whence comes this servitude and hatred?

      If you read from the Thomas Gospel we see that, "...our brothers rally and cry...free them from wench and w.h.o.r.e. Let them be as our Lord intended."

      This lack of evolutionary independence to spread one's seed and strengthen our species is quite unnatural and leads to jealousy and violence.

      In The Book of the Lord, we read, "Wade in the pond often but do not drown."

      I think that says it all...

      September 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Newsflash: All religions are fake. It would logically follow that so is this newest find.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Many in my field believe that the many references to Jesus as being "dumb" were in fact a reference to the fact that he was mute! This has given further creedence to the well know assertion that Jesus did not deliver the "sermon on the mount" but instead "signed" his wisdom to the deaf community present at the time.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Kevin

      Yeah... not really interested in the comedy angle you're selling.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Kevin, not everyone is ready to accept the validity of my area of study. That is ok.

      In the Gnostic Gospels, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand Jesus’ message, most likely due to his deafness. While the other disciples took the time to learn sign language, such as it was, Peter and Matthew did not find this to be important.

      Scholars have interpreted this as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew where Matthew writes, “…our Lord, be He holy and impressive is challenging. He challenges us in mind and patience.”

      September 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Kevin

      You are wasting your life on that.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Donald LaCroix

      It would be interesting to see what brilliant men such as Aquinas, Augustine would think about your perception of "logic."

      Stop telling yourself such falsehoods. Associating credible things to your chosen falsehoods doesn't alter your errors.
      Some day you might try asking why you feel this hatred of the source of all goodness and truth, and find some inner peace, instead of castigating those of us who have gone that route.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      dojo = Poe's Law

      September 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  13. Old Yella

    Of course it is fake. The constant attack on the Catholic church is nothing new.

    Soon they will find another "discovery" and if one ever sticks, the next thing out of their mouth will be " so we should have women priests!"

    Which of course, we NEVER will.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Did you know that in the Gospel of Thomas, it is written that Jesus relied heavily on Thomas saying, "...it is a weary day dream that Thomas earns great victory in quenching the thirst of my people."

      It was incorrectly translated from the Coptic to mean that "Thomas the Contender" was a champion for Jesus, when in fact; Jesus was referring to Thomas' ability to mix wine-based c.o.cktails! We often joke that he should have been called, "Thomas the Bartender"

      September 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      There are more than 30,000 christian cults. Why do you think this an attack on catholicks? You are not that special.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • susan

      I recognize myself as a spiritual being. Beyond are only human beliefs which have been distorted and used to control and abuse people for millenia. Look at Islam which uses it's beliefs to murder and torture children; look at Christians who tortured thousands during the Inquisition. Man invents religion not God. But, I think it's all part of a learning process and we have an innate choice in what we experience. Even hate, cruelty, murder, they all have a place because that is called free will. God gives us free will to invent anything we want. But, intuitively we know that murdering in the name of our "religion" is wrong. Perhaps our lesson is to recognize that.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      A god is not required to know that murdering is wrong. A god is not required for anything. There is no factual, verifiable, objective or independent evidence for any god. Most likely, almost assuredly, there are no gods, not even just one.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Maya

    So was Jesus.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      We know that Jesus was a practicing Buddhist monk, not a rabbi.

      We know that Jesus was married.

      We know that Jesus was a bit of a free spirit and had a volatile temper.

      We know that the so called "missionary position" was so named after Jesus walked in on Mary Magdalene and Joseph having relations. He condemned their activities saying, "...you have soiled my sheets, you have confused my mission and compromised my position"

      September 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • myVu

      @Doc Johnson, We know from your comments that you need to see a "real" Doc. 🙂

      September 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Anyone that believes in any supernatural being is suffering some degree of mental illness.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  15. Doc Johnson

    In the Jesus Gospel he discusses long journeys east of the desert where, "....there I encountered great wisdom and peace among the monks. They removed the sand from my sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"

    He goes on to say that, "..we meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."

    He brought these teachings to his 12 plus Mary and his parents saying, "...know me and know the many lives of the snake, the lizard, and the beasts of all previous lives. Mine is the journey of a God. Perfection can be found through self-sacrifice."

    This is well doc.u.mented but sadly, few too people understand that Jesus was no more a rabbi than me.

    He was a monk, and according to Timothy, an enthusiastic nudist. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic"

    September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Danny

    The Catholic church call anything that doesn't fit their agenda fake, even if it has irrefutable evidence proving its' truth.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      Perhaps I can draw your attention to a passage in the Gospel of Truth, which states, "Jesus found the scribes to be ignorant and foul smelling..."

      These men were his employees and Jesus showed a discernible dislike for them. Perhaps out of jealousy that they were educated where he was not.

      The text goes on to say, "...and Jesus thought not of the female form, and from heaven came to remove ignorance"

      Again giving weight to the common thinking that Jesus was a h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l

      September 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • neo

      ...and so can your arrogant self

      September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • myVu

      The same as you call anything fake that doesn't fit YOUR agenda.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Peter Grenader

    This is close to the worst article ever written. It goes into no details about what lead up to the Vatican's proclamation. Did they see it? It they test it? Did they see the test data at least? And not including this info makes it a big deal. If they reached this conclusion from conducting an investigation, or result form a review of data that exists, or is it simply a dismissive gesture thrown out there with no basis outside that it contradicts what they've been literally preaching for two millennia.

    CNN – please now.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      If you read both Timothy and Phillip, there are passages which describe in detail that Jesus was cremated.
      We know this because his friends were asked to take his ashes to the Sea of Galilee and deposit them over, "...the lapping waves of His Father's own sink basin".
      Furthermore we read in a passage from Timothy that, “…the ashes were as grains of sand. I have tasted his body.” This passage is thought to have been incorrectly translated into the last supper myth.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • susan

      All news articles cannot wait until the full details are known. They are usually followed by reports as the facts come in. This is a news article, not an analysis after all the information is known. Most news works that way..a stream of media blurbs with breaking news as it becomes known. The Vatican, as might be expected is not exactly an unbiased source; their opinion is based on religious belief or hope, not scientific fact.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  18. Brian

    Of course Jesus was married. It was normal and expected for every man of that time to take a wife; if Jesus had not, that would have been noteworthy enough to earn a mention in the Gospels.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      This discovery is an excellent example of Coptic pigeon. Not unlike today's Hawaiian Islanders, The Coptic language was a mixed dialect making it seem "sloppy" to the untrained eye.

      The Gnostic gospels were indeed "scripture" far more so than the present form of the so called "Holy Bible". In fact, these scriptures tell the tale of Jesus the man. Married, a Buddhist, a nudist, a true renaissance man of his time.

      The Greek Phase: ανοιχ τή ο δο ιτ, simply means, "what time did you get in last night?” Loosely translated into today’s vernacular.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  19. CNNuthin

    Listen, if someone wants to write a fanfic about your characters, either make it canon or finally admit you are just making all of it up for power and wealth. You don't even go by the teachings you preach.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  20. palintwit

    Repeated studies have shown that there is a greater incidence of child molestation and incest among southern white evangelical christians than in any other group that participated in the study. Living in tightly cramped quarters (such as trailer parks) is one of the main causes of perverted behavior among christians. Those requiring further proof need only to take a casual drive south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The abundance of toothless christian cretins you will see are a direct result of years of inbreeding.
    Oddly enough, many of these christian misfits make their way north or west where they can be found working in gas stations and car washes. And yes, some do end up in Congress on the republican side of the aisle. And some end up in mainstream cinema in such classics as Deliverance and Smokey and The Bandit.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:11 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.