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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. tallulah13

    Hitler wasn't an atheist. Sorry, TBT. You don't get to decide who believes what.

    Also, there is a huge difference between killing for religion and killing for politics. If you weren't obtuse, you would understand that.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Whoops. Posted in the wrong place.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • truth be told

      that's ok you were wrong on the post anyway.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Realist

      Hitler was a catholic helping the vatican, which at the time the catholics had hate for jews. Google pics of hitler and the pope and see the many happy cardinals faces as they meet with hitler during the genocide. Pope also cut a deal with hitler. And if anyone disagrees,, then why didn't the pope jump up and down demanding hitler stop! The vatican and the popes, the most disgusting group in history, and still today.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      History doesn't agree with you, TBT. But if lying makes you feel better about yourself, then you just go right on ahead.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • truth be told

      @realist hitler was born in a catholic country,raised in a catholic home rejected all catholic teaching and became an atheist as an adult.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • truth be told

      Those who knew hitler knew he was an atheist, Christians were also sent to the camps and had the war not ended would have been next after the Jews.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Realist

      Hitler WAS NOT an atheist. Watch videos of his marches.. he used 'for God'.. Amazing how christians claim those who are christian and destructive, aren't really christian. And the same will tell you those muslim who cause harm are what muslim is all about.

      However the truth is that christians and muslims are all the same, no difference. Both are delusional frea-ks

      September 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Little Joe T

      Realist try reading "National Socialism and the Roman Catholic Church" Cambridge Press 1938. You are a fool if you don't know hitler apostasized against Catholicism in his teens and never returned to the fold.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Realist

      1938??? now that's too funny..

      September 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • stevecomptonart

      Hitler was a pagan In his book Mein Kampf Hitler said he wanted to restore the Nordic pantheon. He thought christianity was a weak & degenerate religion, a byproduct of judaism. that held the master race back

      September 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  2. Allen Russell

    All religions are fake. Next. ..... No, seriously....NEXT!

    September 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Realist

      more like they are delusional, sad we don't have laws that treat religion as p-o-r-n and keep it away from kids. Then again, the religious don't like that since brainwashing sticks better when you begin with children <– child abuse

      September 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Hugh Beaumont

      Or, better yet, you are a fake.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Realist

      actually, religions are not fake, they are real man made creations based on pure silliness

      September 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  3. advocatusdiaboli

    This is the same group that put Galileo in prison/house arrest for the rest of his life for daring to state the earth revolved around the Sun. The same group who tried to kill Martin Luther. The same group who burned to death over 1 million young women accused of Witchcraft. Do I believe a word they say? No. Never.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Hugh Beaumont

      And what did Luther say about the Heliocentric theory? "the anti-biblical ravings of a fool".
      So much for your boy Luther.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • James PDX

      Well, you can't expect someone trying to customize a turd to end up with anything other than a customized turd.

      September 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  4. Maty

    It wouldn't have been unusual for a Rabbi to be married.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  5. Andrew

    And this the same Vatican that believes the Shroud of Turin is real?? The one that they won't let a real scientist examine...

    September 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Pilgrim1

      Gotta protect the cash cow!

      September 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Solidarity, brother (see my comment below).

      September 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Yugnok

      The Vatican doesn't have an offical position on the Shroud of Turin, but thanks for spreading the misinformation.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Seth Hill

      The Vatican has allowed several groups of scientists to examine the Shroud of Turin, and they established that it was created in the 14th century, so it's definitely not the shroud of Jesus.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Andrew

      Yugnok – Pope Benedict XVI has said of the Shroud of Turin that it's an "extraordinary Icon – an Icon written in blood, the blood of a man who was scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified and whose right side was pierced".
      Pope John Paul II said that the image was "The imprint left by the tortured body of the Crucified One".
      So neither of those counts as their "official stance"? If that's the case, how much more wishy-washy could they be?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      Seth Hill – True. But they've never had the ENTIRE shroud tested by un-biased scientists. And nothing has been done on it since 1988. With today's technology, a thorough examination of the entire shroud would once-and-for-all determine the truth of its age & how it was created.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Andrew, no one would ever test the entire shroud. What advances in radiocarbon dating technology (AMS) would provide is the ability to date an even smaller amount of material with even a smaller range of error. But why do that? The shroud has been dated independently at three different labs (why are these labs supposedly biased?), and they reached a clear answer.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  6. ronjayaz

    Whenever things get booooooooooooring in religion (which is usually always) they make a new discovery abt Jesus (How come that never happens with Jews or Muslims?)

    September 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      well it does hapen with jewish history. They continue to dig up stuff that validate the Old Testament. This scrap of papyrus unfortunately doesn't fall into the category of a finding. There is not enough there to matter. Not sure what they could dig up to support islamic history. perhaps the bones of some poor woman who was pulled apart by camels?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  7. assaultdog0351

    CARBON DATE!

    September 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Definitely, and it's only a matter of time; however, the radiocarbon dates on the Shroud of Turin (which show it to be Medieval in age) provide a perfect example of how religious people will believe what they want to believe regardless of the evidence.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • truth be told

      The shroud has been carbon dated and the results have been found inconclusive.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jon Samuel

      truth be told – yes. apparently the vatican is stingy about allowing the good material to be carbon dated. What they carbon dated was a patch as I understand.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      In 1988 a radiocarbon dating test was performed on small samples of the shroud. The laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, concurred that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260AD and 1390AD.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shroud_of_Turin

      September 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Thank you, Truth be Told and John Samuel, for providing perfect examples of what I was talking about. The dates were certainly not inconclusive (as End Religion pointed out, all three labs reached the same conclusion), and the only people talking about a patch are religious groups attempting to explain the dates away. The shroud has been patched in places (hence the source of the rumor) but they carefully avoided sampling the patches.

      See what I mean? Even if the papyrus fragment is dated, people who do not base their beliefs upon evidence will find a way to dismiss the findings if they don't fit their preconceived beliefs.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  8. dad

    tallulah perhaps you should look into the how old the catholic church is? Define what you mean by thrive before you accept everything they say?
    Clearly your response lacks any motivation to think or discover for yourself

    September 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  9. sick of christian phonies

    There were loads of different "gospels" and "teachings" and many different sects with clashing beliefs in the early years, before the New Testament was standardized in 347 AD or whenever. This could just be the writings of one such sect. As heretics, of course, the church authorities would have them hunted down and killed if this arose after the papacy solidified it's stranglehold on "dogma" and "truth".

    September 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  10. Rosslaw

    The Vatican really wants to dispel any notion whatsoever that, you know, maybe Jesus liked girls. Uh!

    September 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  11. sick of christian phonies

    They haven't even examined it! Oh, that's right, things like "proof" and "reasoned analysis"- never mind the dreaded "scientific method"- have never mattered to them. They are used to making grand pronouncements about real and unreal, good and bad, what's true and what isn't, with no basis in reality and solely going on what their papal bosses say "faith" tells them. Signed, ex-catholic who woke up.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • End Religion

      congrats on your awakening!

      September 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  12. robCM

    There is a much greater chance that he was married than not. But that would blow some of the standing of the Christian churches. It would also mean that women have a much greater standing in Christianity then they currently have.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • duckforcover

      How many atheists have gone out and slaughtered millions of people who don't agree with their views on God?

      September 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • truth be told

      @duck for cover
      A lot,Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Ho, Pol Pot, Castro and any other atheist that has ruled a country.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • FedUp

      Hey "Duckforcover": The answer is over 50 million so far in the U.S. alone. It's called abortion, which you call choice.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hitler wasn't an atheist. Sorry, TBT. You don't get to decide who believes what.

      Also, there is a huge difference between killing for religion and killing for politics. If you weren't obtuse, you would understand that..

      September 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      hey fed up, you forget that christians have abortions too.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  14. Mike

    Just another distraction to get peoples eyes off God and onto something silly. Exactly what Satan wants us to do.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • End Religion

      Mike is infatuated with the Church Lady...

      http://youtu.be/lX8jo8wIIaU

      September 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  15. USDude

    I thought I had seen a similar story to this a while back – oh yeah... the fake Obama birth certificate – we still can't tell if he was born in this country or not.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      More delusional idiocy.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Darth Cheney

      Oh, give it a rest. Kool-Aid drinkers like you could travel back in time to 1961, see the baby Barack passing from his mother's birth canal, and you still wouldn't believe it. You'd probably think that liberals had somehow tinkered with your time machine and led you into an alternate reality – much like the alternate reality your Fox masters concocted for you.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Why do people like you deny Hawaii it's statehood? Hawaii is part of the United States, whether you like it or not. Lots of fine Americans were born in Hawaii. The Mets wouldn't have won the 1986 World Series without the contributions of Hawaiian natives Sid Fernandez and Ron Darling. Just because our President was born is Hawaii is no reason to deny that he is a citizen of the United States. Get over your irrational prejudice.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • shellacking

      USDude = USDumb

      September 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • duckforcover

      Take off your tin-foil hat, come out of the bunker, and put down the light sabre.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  16. MT

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

    ... and those would be? Oh, wait ... I forgot. When you believe in a god, you don't have to prove any of your beliefs are true. You just get to say stuff and consign them to faith. Thanks for demonstrating why theists shouldn't be in charge of scientific matters.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • 0Patrick0

      Those details were already reported. Several phrasings elsewhere on the fragment seem inauthentic to the language, etc.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    Your God is clearly mad at you for not listening to me. LISTEN TO ME !!
    Your all DOOMED
    But there is HOPE. I have been sent to SAVE YOU.
    For a small fee of say, 25 million, I have it on good authority that Boris in the SOVIET UNION will launch you into the arms of GOD HIMSELF.....
    THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO GET ALL THE ANSWERS, its foolproof actually. The capsule has NO PARACHUTE, so if you survive re-entry, it is PROOF POSITIVE that God exists. If he hugs you, your all set, proof that he loves you. If he DROPS you.....well... there's that parachute thing, you may wish to rethink your relationship with God.
    SO DON'T DELAY, Send ME your 25 million TODAY!!! The first 100,000 people get a NOTARIZED CERTIFICATE from someone who MIGHT be a notary, probably GUARANTEEING your seat next to the almighty.......

    WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.....Send ME all of your money.....RIGHT NOW.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Oh and if you don't have 25 million, DON'T WORRY, I have a tire tube stretched between two trees and a trashcan that should serve the same purpose.

      September 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  18. Bill

    That's not the only thing about religion that's fake. But they've made a good first step.

    September 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  19. SkepticalOne

    And the Catholic church knows a little something about fakes...

    September 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  20. Jon

    Will = Liar

    September 29, 2012 at 1:05 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.