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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. Yugnok

    When are journalists going to figure out that the newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, is not the official mouthpiece of the Catholic Church or the Vatican. Just because a guy writes an editorial in that newspaper does not make it the official position of the Vatican.

    The fact that year after year journalists like CNN post articles and headlines like this is just comical and shows how little they know about the inner workings of the Church.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  2. dkm

    Meanwhile, in other news from the Vatican, "So called abused boys were asking for it, the Priests were only trying to make the young boys happy."

    September 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • 29RealBlackMan29

      History has shown that the Vatican is full of Child molesters and Freaks

      September 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • dkm

      You do know that was sarcasm don't you?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Will

    Anything the Catholic Church says has to be a lie. They just do their little hocus pocus thing and pretend it is all good.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • 29RealBlackMan29

      So true. The Vatican is the biggest lie Machine working in this world

      September 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Jon

      The Church was founded by Christ on Peter and does not lie. But Will certainly lies.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The catholic church has thrived for 2000 years, not by providing proof, but by saying "because we say so." This policy may not serve it so well in this modern era, when information is available to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  4. 200 TON HAMMER

    who where all the kings on the earth doing King Solomon rule for 40 years?????????they had too visit him or they sent people too him,from all over the world for Messianic Wisdom he shared with so many
    race of non jewish people's

    September 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      Religion did not created the sun and moon,religion did not create human life,Wisdom did Wisdom Was In The
      start of Time before there was Time

      September 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Harold

      Now you're onto it. Solomon never existed. The claimed period of this "massive empire" was nothing more than a tiny ignored village. What's that? Religion makes things up? Why... next thing you'll be saying is that exodus was fake, there was never any "promise from god" and all it was was some nomads who discovered agriculture and made up a bunch of myth about it.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  5. sins

    This report indicates how dangerous religion can become due to individuals upbringing within that religion and the teachings by religious leaders. Myopic beliefs are dangerous especially in todays world- where new scientific revelations in the high tech field, medical fields and general science fields are found almost daily, many of which can conflict with simple minded teachings by religious guru's or teachers with a religious leaning, etc.

    If I use a medical innovation or a high tech innovation that does not break any law other than a religious point of view am I obligated to stop or to actually take the view of the uneducated?

    The next question is how dangerous are these views and ideas of religious based thinkers who refuse to interpret with free thinking ideas or innovations that destroy their idea of the concept or reality?

    Finally, what happens when you must deal with a large number of people who have the same thinking and cannot freely determine from the ideas, concept, information or differing viewpoint presented to determine in their own mind that perhaps the possibility exists that their skewed thinking is wrong?

    If you think about it, you will realize that is a dangerous thing.

    In regards to this situation, if the custom at the time included a wife in every other relationship how would not Jesus have had a wife? Is not one of the earliest teachings on jesus based on the concept that he was put on earth to understand man's suffering?

    The issue here could actually be as outlined above, the fact that over time religious based thinking revolves around control so somewhere a translation could have been changed or a fact omitted so as to eliminate the fact he had a wife. Somewhere within the Vaticans vast treasures will be an original set of manuscripts from the apostles, those would be revealing in todays age as to whats been misinterpreted or omitted in future "bibles", how about access to the Vaticans vast lbraries be open to the public?

    September 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  6. Paul

    Jesus wasn't married...clearly he was gay.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  7. PVC

    Find all these things about Jesus from 2000 yrs ago. But we cant find the POTUS true birth cert and Columbia and Harvard college transcript..... amazing...........

    September 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional nonsense.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • bozobub

      Nice fail, Birther.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Mark Taylor

      Comments like the one you've made here is why there are people here calling the church ugly. Forget the birth certificate and get busy carrying out the real work of the church – as described in the book of James for example.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Austin guy

      No, your ignorant biased beliefs don't WANT to think Obama's cert has been overwhelmingly proved to be legit. That's your issue, seek help.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  8. God Bless America

    Why is it only non-believers who comment on this nonsense? Remember after 120 years of preaching about a flood none entered the Ark except Noah and his family...

    September 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Noah did not have 120 years of notice before the flood, and today,any causes for such a flood would be broadcasting years in advance, and unlike Noah, we could actually stop that comet from hitting the Indian Ocean. Unlike Noah, we have global media to get the word out and prepare. Unlike Noah, we have a unbreakable network of amateur and professional astronomers that cannot nor will not be silenced by any king or government. No, there is only ONE fake mentioned in THIS article, and its not the fragment.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • sins

      Yes, the other fact from the bible is Metusalah, and the others who lived for years beyond our comprehension at the present time, whenyou consider those time periods of age reached by the persons mentioned you cannot come to a belief that the earth is only 5000 years old, not only do we not know the length of "time" a year was during Metusalah's life range we do not know how long earth was left uninhabited by god before we as humans were placed on earth. If god created all, then dinosaurs or other life before that cannot be construed as being anti religious ideas nor can it be deemed that the bible is inaccurate, the bible as someone mentioned was written after the significant event and from oral history, unless the gospels were originally written by the authors and those exist somewhere can they then be translated to present languages and that process could actually determine if excerpts have been deleted, omitted or transfered to an opinion of the day. papal councils are convened and those occur to change something, usually its someones opinion on something that then became an order or changed something, and those would have happened regularily because religion breeds individuals who profess to know what god wants the rest to do, and the use of that power becomes a motivation in changing things to maintain the power......its a manipulation of the masses

      September 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  9. Thomas

    It's crazy how many people here have fallen for the obvious scam of the gnostic gospels. Do your homework, they were written over 150 years, at the earliest, after Jesus died. It was not possible that Mary, Thomas, Jesus, or Judas could have written these, yet you lap it up llike sugar water because it provides you with a message that you want to believe. It's not that you are gullible, you have not been tricked, you have willingly set aside the science, history, logic, and rigor which you claim to prize so highly.
    The synoptic gospels, and the whole of the New Testament, were written or dictated by those who actually walked with Jesus, or lived at a time which was contemporaneous with his.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • James PDX

      Who cares. God is a murderous, fallible, angry child who performs mass abortions when he throws a tizzy fit.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • nope

      @james
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      You've fallen for the same trap. The hard truth is that there is no eyewitness account to the life of Jesus. You are just as foolish for believing in the supposed writings of Paul (who admittedly never met jesus) as you are to believe the Gospel of Enoch. Any time a book mentions sorcery and talking animals and zombies, do take the time to realize that you are reading fiction.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Thomas

      @James PDX
      Calling God names does nothing to discredit the scripture. Mass abortions? You clearly have no real knowledge of the bible and it is painfully obvious is your many comments. Name calling and insulting...now that is childish.
      If you had a point to make which you could actually back up, then someone could make a substantive reply...but you don't because whatever issues you have which have left you angry with God obviously want to avoid substance at all costs.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • End Religion

      am loving thomas calling himself crazy... finally some "truth" from a religious nutter.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • truth be told

      Paul met Jesus and spoke with Him.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • nope

      Thomas:
      "The synoptic gospels, and the whole of the New Testament, were written or dictated by those who actually walked with Jesus, or lived at a time which was contemporaneous with his."

      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • James PDX

      Hey, nope.

      1. Murderous: God murdered everyone in 2 major cities, man, woman, and child.
      2. Angry: "For it is my decision to gather together the kingdoms of the earth and pour out my fiercest anger and fury on them. All the earth will be devoured by the fire of my jealousy."
      3. Fallible: He created a flawed man and then wiped them all out with a flood and started over.
      4. Tizzy fit: See Sodom, Gomorrah, flood, etc...
      5. Mass abortions: See Sodom, Gomorroah, flood, etc...

      September 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • bozobub

      "Obvious scam"..? You are apparently completely unaware of the timeline of when ALL the gospels were written, Gnostic or not. Sorry, but apparently the nonbelievers have a better grasp on history than you do.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • 4thand26

      The earlier dates for the canonical gospels come from...what for it...Christians. They need the dates to be closer to the time of Jesus so they can continue the myth that they were eye witness accounts...fact is, dating this material is very difficult and evidence either way is scarce. However, given we have talking snakes, people walking on water and rising from the dead, my money is on the belief that the Bible is a work of fiction, period.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • James PDX

      Thomas, every point I made is backed up by the bible. If you kill a pregnant mother, is the fetus not aborted? Did God not kill en masse many times, not the least of which was the flood which drowned every pregnant mother on the planet? Maybe you don't know your bible so well, or just prefer to close your eyes during the bad parts. And how can I be angry with a being whose existence is unproven? Are you angry with Santa?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  10. champ zumbrun

    Scriptures symbolically imply Jesus is married to the Church, the body of his believers... that the chruch is his bride.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • James PDX

      His bride is ugly.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Agapatos

      @James. The marriage is a spiritual one, of Christ to his church, which is his "mystical body" (An amorphous term for the souls of those In Heaven, on Earth, & in Purgatory). If it's "ugly" its only to your human way of viewing it.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Mark Taylor

      His bride is ugly? The church I attend is the #1 food pantry in Indiana. We served 500,000 meals last year. How is that ugly? What have YOU done for the less fortunate in YOUR community?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • End Religion

      "He's back... and this time he's got a play mate of his own!"

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iTqHXfcBX4&w=640&h=360]

      September 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  11. James PDX

    “Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit,”

    Well, as long as the reasons are substantial, we don't really need to know what they are.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  12. gin

    Well I'm guessing it's fake because pretty sure he was gay. Unmarried, good looking, and hangs out with a group of guys all the time, enough said!

    September 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • nope

      @gin
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • diktracy

      OF COURSE, they'd say it's a fake! Their entire livelihood, con . . . everything they have created out of whole cloth is at stake.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • James PDX

      Jesus once cured a gay man and the man was still gay afterward. So clearly Jesus thinks that being gay is perfectly normal and probably participated in more than his fair share of disciple circle jerks.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      Bible encourages oral sex: http://goo.gl/gOKS4

      September 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  13. Harold

    So that's how it works does it? The whole scientific method. "This piece of paper disagrees with our doctrine, so it's an obvious fake". No actual proof that it's fake, just call it fake. Laughable.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      what scientific method? They produce some scrap that could have been written anytime anywhere about anybody and these few sentences are supposed to refute the most studied book in the history of the world? People will agendas will hang onto anything even scraps of papyrus

      September 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • 4thand26

      Imagine how many times that worked for them over the centuries...

      September 29, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • ME II

      Not that I disagree with your view, but I would point out that much of the Bible also traces back to some scraps of papyrus too.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • James PDX

      Jon, then why doesn't the Vatican disclose their "substantial reasons" for claiming it's fake?

      September 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • diktracy

      The "most studied book in the history of the world"??? Really now. That's just too funny for comment. Any time anyone actually "studies" this piece of fiction, the same result is forthcoming: it is a work of fiction from Genesis to Revelation.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • 4thand26

      @Jon Samuel....hmmm, sounds like you're describing the Bible...gibberish written 2000 years ago is still gibberish, how old it is doesn't give it any more authority or credence.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  14. Max Door

    Right, This is fake but the Shroud of Turin is real. So the church would have us believe.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • truth be told

      Look at the artifact. It is supposed to be two thousand years old. The ink looks new. Second it isn't scripture and has no known authority behind it. Gnostics have misrepresented the Bible for centuries.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      Yes. That is correct. This scrap is likely a fake. The shroud of turin is likely the real deal. No one can adequately explain how it was made

      September 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • freddie

      Same principle when someone eating a bag of potato chips finds one that has a dark spot that supposedly looks similar to a thousand year old painting of a two thousand year old fictional character from the greatest fictional book ever written. El bible. Many people need some sort of validation that religions are real but really they are all the biggest scheme in the history of civilization.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      the scrap, the bible, the church, the whole of religion: fraud.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  15. Tex71

    The Vatican knows it's a fake because they have the REAL marriage papers hidden in a vault.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  16. wabob62

    The Vatican is a fake

    September 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      The Vatican will never Take the place
      of Jerusalem,GOD Abraham,Issac,Yacob The GOD of Isreal,made A Promise Too King David and King Solomon and also reading 1st kings chapter 8:41~45
      is a forever promise

      September 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      someone needs 200 tons of meds

      September 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  17. lamchops1984

    It is quite obvious, just by cursory visual examination, to see that the ink letters has not deteriorated at the same rate as the underlying papyrus. In fact the ink has not deteriorated at all; it is thicker and thinner in places, but it does not show signs of deterioration from age. It is a clumsy obvious fake seized upon by very gullible people.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • 4thand26

      I really hope you meant to be sarcastic.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      That's my take as well. Actually it really doesn't matter what it says or what it is. There isn't enough there to put it in context with anything.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  18. wekurtz

    Wow – a fictional man's fictional wife debunked. What a gloriously intellectual time we live in 😦

    September 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • End Religion

      with these people we need baby steps. At least they're beginning to debate whether they need a "hell" any longer...

      September 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  19. SensiblePat

    While the new discovery may well be a fake, remember that the Vatican has a hugh financial stake in denying that Jesus was anything but a celebate, unmarrried man.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • diktracy

      There you go! Truth in a nutshell.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  20. YBP

    I agree with the these learned sages of our times, whoc can't seem to keep their hands and mouths off of our sons. I'd go even further and state that the entire Bible is fake as well.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:32 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.