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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Tanker

      "Prayer changes things"

      Yes it does. It makes you stupid, lazy, and unaccountable.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • nope


      September 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Dana

      It makes you look like a fool. Go put your head back in the sand.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Dana

      Religion is unhealthy for young altar boys.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • no

      You should pray to be less retarded, then.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Matthew 21:21:
      I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt,not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
      [A true believer can ask a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will be done. LOL!]

      Mark 9:23
      All things are possible to him who believes.

      Luke 1:37:
      For with God nothing will be impossible.

      John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

      John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

      John 14:14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

      Nothing could be simpler or clearer than Jesus' promises about prayer in the Bible.
      So there you have it, straight from Jesus in the New Testament in clear, simple, and unequivocal terms.

      Now pray to end the following, international sëx trafficking, child abuse, genetic diseases, bacterial diseases, and war for starters. Waiting for news at 11.

      Go ahead prove your claim. Jesus was very specific in promising nothing can not be done by the faithful who pray, so do it.

      Go ahead and pray to change the mind of an all knowing all powerful god. God is all knowing and perfect but go ahead and pray to change an all knowing and perfect god's mind. It works, Jesus said it does.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • snopes says

      nope to nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:07 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 4:08 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Yeah, it changes you from a believer in an omniscient, omnipotent god to someone who questions the judgement of that same god.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  2. Lee s

    If anyone is an expert on duping people, its the Catholic Church

    September 29, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Joe

      Is that why the Catholic Church agreed to have the Shroud of Turin carbon tested?

      September 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Dana

      Duping people is in their job description.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Yugnok

      Yeah well CNN duped thousands into thinking that Catholic Church announced the fragment was fake just because some dude wrote an op-ed piece in their newspaper.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Yugnok, editorial of the paper, not op-ed.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  3. Justin

    The Vatican will denounce anything they didn't purge from the Bible since before the Crusades.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  4. Phil

    Shocking they came out and said that. /sarcasm off

    September 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  5. sativa619

    Of course it is a fake. So is the Bible.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  6. Gonzo

    It has to be real, there is dinosour DNA on it.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • ElmerGantry


      September 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  7. ja-coffalotte


    September 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  8. krisfehr13

    Of course its a fake. So is everything the church is based on. So it fits right in with the Vatican.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  9. AvdBerg

    Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6) and neither is there salvation in any other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

    The Jesus figure portrayed in the above article is not the true and living God that came into this world in the name of Jesus Christ to deliver people from the spirit of this world (1 John 5:4)..

    Please read the article ‘Repent’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca and learn what it means. It signifies a lot more than what by nature you have been made to believe.

    Are those that are referred to as ‘Christians’ by the media really the followers of Jesus Christ or do they follow after a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; GaL.4:8) and why is there so much division amongst religions? Please read on.

    The above mentioned article by Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi is a good example how distorted things have become in society with the media industry as the main culprit.

    They are spiritually blind and the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:15).

    In order for anyone to be able to understand the Word of God they must repent and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18). Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi do not know what spirit they are of (Luke 9:55).

    The Word of God is not to be interpreted (2 Peter 1:20) and it is the discerner of every thought and intent of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

    The local media, including CNN, Fox and your local TV stations and newspapers are a very important element of social and political behavior, as society is shaped by what it sees, hears and reads and it is conditioned by the events that influence the mind of every person. You reap what you sow.

    To allow anyone to be directed by public opinion is dangerous because most public opinion is the view of the media. If the media does not like something, their bias taints information getting to the public, and this forms public opinion. Public opinion is never based on research and facts. The public uses the media for its sole source of information and for this reason social behavior will continue to deteriorate and wax worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13).

    For a better understanding of the role of the media we invite you to read the articles ‘Influence of the Media’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    The media does not provide accurate information on ‘Religion’ as it continues to ignore the truth and the history of deceptions (John 14:17). They only report how they want you to hear things. They have created the big chasm that now exists without offering any solutions.

    Consider the truth about Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, Evangelicals and Christianity and all other religions and ask yourself the following question.

    Are so-called Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Israelites and Evangelicals and all those that call themselves ‘Christians’ followers of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God, or do they follow after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8)?

    For a better understanding of the history of Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Christianity, and Judaism and its spread throughout the world, we invite you to read the articles ‘The Mystery Babylon’, ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s faith does not stand in the teachings of Christ but rather in an image of the spirit and the god of this world and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8).

    For a better understanding of the history of the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency of the USA, we invite you to read the articles ‘Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot’ and ‘Barack Obama – President of the United States of America’, listed on our website.

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor 2:15).

    Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    September 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • krisfehr13

      Cool story bro.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • sativa619


      September 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Tanker

      "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit Not a nasty, dirty wet hole, filled with the ends of earth worms and an ozzy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole, with nothing to sit down on or to eat; it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort."

      From the book of Bilbo, 1:1

      September 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Happy Birthday to Jesus Christ. Born on September 29th, conceived on December 25th. Born 6 months after his cousin, John the Baptist. John's mother Elisabeth was Jesus' mother Mary's cousin. When Jesus was conceived (Luke 1) John leaped in his mother's ( Elisabeth) womb.

      For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

      Luke 1:44


      September 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  10. TruthTeller

    And we are to believe the Vatican? ROTFLMAO Wait til the truth comes out that bones have been found. Talk about blowing the lid off Christianity. I can't wait for the truth to come to the light. Are you ready for the truth? Better do your homework now!

    September 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Christians know that man are mortal and can/will make mistakes. Whether those mistakes are intentional or out of ignorance, God judges man. As humans and as practicing Christians we have the right to discern who is teaching Jesus' truth and who is not.

      This post is not condoning what predators wearing the cloth have done to innocents. My post is explaining that as a Christian it is our responsibility to read Jesus' letter to us (the Bible) from cover to cover so we can challenge via Q&A after services are completed, those that preach Jesus' gospel so that we sharpen our knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ's truth.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • TruthTeller

      The truth is yet to be revealed and I hope those who have not been enlightened are prepared for their devastation is certain. Everything you thought was real is a lie or distortion of the truth.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • End Religion

      They found Bones, and he's a DOCTOR!


      September 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      @HeavenSent: speaking of rights, here's one...
      Religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  11. joeymom

    Why do they believe it is a fake? And why would it matter whether Jesus was married or not? And if the fragment is in Coptic, isn't it likely to be Gnostic, and non-canonical, anyway? I don't understand why everybody is in a fuss over this scrap of papyrus.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • neo

      Well they can try, but it matters not. The furor resides on web pages only. There is nothing authentic about this new "find". It's just one of numerous attacks on Christianity.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
      • joeymom

        I don't see how it attacks anything. It is a scrap of papyrus in Coptic. The orthodox church rejects hundreds of texts in canonizing the Bible, and many of them were from communities using Coptic. So, we have a scrap from a text that the orthodox church decided for their own reasons to leave out. Do people get all ranked about the Nag Hammadi texts? The Dead Sea Scrolls? The Qumran scrolls? Why would they? It isn't part of their tradition, anyway!

        September 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  12. Ben

    The Vatican says it's not real so it must not be real.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  13. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    No evidence is presented by the Vatican for this being fake, even though it only claims something normal and ordinary (that a man had a wife), but when it comes to miracles, we are supposed to believe these on faith alone!

    September 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  14. Outsider123

    Harvard professor involved in fraud. What are the odds? I know how to find out. I'll ask Elizabeth Warren.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Bringing religion into politics. How quaint and typical.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  15. gango

    Something else. As I read the contents on the story's header: "Should we abandon hell?", "Was Jesus really married?" and "End evangelical Islamophobia," I wonder whether it isn't time for CNN to balance their belief blog a bit more, because I wonder what it is that the contributors actually believe in (if anything?)

    September 29, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Dave

      If you don't know what they believe....then they are being balanced.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Yugnok

      Also, this whole articles existence is a reflection of CNN's profound ignorance of Catholicism.

      L'Osservatore Romano doesn't speak for the Vatican. Its the Vatican newspaper. The article that is skeptical about the papyrus was written by some guy in an editorial. Its not any sort of official statement.

      CNN and the rest of the incompetents publish false articles whenever some dude says something in the Vatican newspaper and presents it as if its the official position of the Catholic Church. Their articles usually have snappy headlines to make the Church seem angry or behind the times.

      For the last time:

      L'Osservatore Romano =/= Vatican

      September 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  16. Greyhound37

    It very well could be the papyrus is "fake" or that it is, indeed, speaking of the mythological Jesus of the Bible, but still not proving whether he had a wife.

    However, the Vatican asserting that it's a fake without actually presenting any evidence to back up that claim....... well, I guess that's consistent with their whole philosophy of exhorting people to believe what they say and never question from where the information comes or whether it is, indeed, true.

    Just believe in the church and nothing can ever go wrong. 😉

    September 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Science is questions that may be answered, religion is answers that can not be questioned.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      I've always liked that comment, Elmer.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  17. Rudy Malmquist

    what a completely shallow piece – we've all heard about the papyrus but there is no further information regarding the vatican's take on it aside from the headline. WHY does the Vatican think its a "Clumsy Counterfeit" ? WHAT are their other reasons for believing its not a legitimate piece of evidence? WHO at the Vatican is saying these things? Is it the Pope himself? Amateur journalism at its worst!

    September 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Confusious

      Rudy, I feeel your pain.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Life for all

      I concur this is a very shallow piece which purpose is nothing more than to try and discredit the Vatican, not that I care in the sense that someone of that faith would, but it seems a deliberate attempt to make people take this piece of papyrus more seriously than it deserves. There have been other attempts to say Jesus was married in other fake gospels such as "gospel of thomas" and "Mary" these were instigated by people trying to humify Jesus and rob him of his diety, they failed and this attempt will fail as well.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • neo

      It's all based on a lie, so fill in the blanks how you would like them. Most of you deny God, so just do that. Say He was gay or whatever your hearts desire. Just do it.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  18. Adam P.

    found wanting or found in contempt of everything the vatican represents.

    If he was married chances are pretty good he was just a man and none of the BS means anything to anyone.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  19. Confusious

    I'm confused. This kind of "scientific" discoveries is always published before Easter or before Christmas. But September?? C'mon, scientists!

    September 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  20. Robert

    There were many enemies of the gospel in the first century. So why wouldn't this be fraudulent, even if it were that old, which I DOUBT! The Jews were trying to destroy the gospel from day one of Christ's ministry. But not all Jews. The aposels themselves were Jews. In fact, the Christian gospel was spread all over the world by Jews. Jews are just a sample of all men... some will believe in Christ and repent of their sins and others will not because they either love their sin or they love their arrogance... or both. (And athiests are the absolute worst of the lot... for them, it's all about selfishness.)

    September 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Cookie

      You speak of Jews as if Jesus wasn't one himself.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Dave

      You forgot to mention that Jesus was a Jew....your lord and savior...was a Jew...and so was his wife.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      dearest robert and all others arguing that their faith is the best one, all religion is a fraud. If you suffer from a brand of this delusion, it is no less crazy than any other. The jesus you have read about did not exist.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
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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.