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. Brian

    The Vatican is talking about "fakes"? Maybe they should look in the mirror.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Tired of Christian Lies

    Of course the Vatican will say its a lie after all they should know what a lie is seeing that they have been spreading the same lie for the past 1,962 years about the existence of god.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  3. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

    If Jesus was married so what? Muslims never concealed Holy Prophet Muhammad was married to a 9 years old Sayyida Aisha!!!, still people follow him!

    September 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  4. josh rogen

    priest and ministers called for the heretic to be put to death, as angry mobs of Christians formed in front of american embassies throughout the Christian world...no wait...that didn't happen..why not??????

    September 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Because Christianity has been somewhat reigned in by secular law. Before it was, Christians did stuff like that all the time.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • nope


      September 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly


      September 29, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      up thank the gods that we pagans and the atheist/agnostics got together and put you Christians in your place

      September 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  5. Pax

    the ol alliance of 'new age' neo-platonism, protestantism, & strong central governments run by money grubbers is still in bloom

    but not for long

    September 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  6. Dana

    It's obviously refers to Mrs. Claus.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  7. TamOra

    ... and what if he has been married ... wasn't he eating and drinking?!!!!!

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

      Jason, I'm not a Catholic, nor do I condone what predators wearing the cloth have done to innocents. However, I am a Christian and what the Catholic Church is embroiled with has been written in the Bible 100s of years ago for anyone that cares to read it. Therefore, you're not off the hook for being lazy and not loving and following Jesus' truth. If you don't love and follow Jesus, you automatically go into the category of loving and following the lies of satan.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • End Religion

      for heavensent's satan fascination...


      September 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  8. Jason

    I see the money-changers disciples are posting

    September 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  9. Dana

    Two fakes don't make a right.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  10. Dana

    That's like the fake calling the fake fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  11. Pete

    Typical response from the church, "we don't like what it says so it must not be true."

    September 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Yugnok

      The Church didn't respond. Some dude wrote an editorial in L'Osservatore Romano and CNN pawned it off as some sort of official Church statement. The Church doesn't give a crap about a 4th Century fragment of papyrus.

      And of course anti-Catholics such as yourself soak up this BS and use it as an excuse to express your prejudices.

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

      You supporters of your pedophile infested cult are repugnant. It takes religion to support the rape of dhildren.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Don, Georgia Educator

    All evidence written and unwritten, prior to this "find", substantiates that Jesus was a bachelor, never married and had no children. Those who want to stir the emotional pot jump all over unverfiable, unrelaible trivia like this to make their case. Poor papyrus and poor scholarship all add up to no new News!

    September 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      What evidence? Aside from the writings of a few people who weren't even born at the time, there is NO evidence about Jesus.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  13. ConfucianScholar

    Did they so offhandedly declare it a fake with out first examing it?

    September 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  14. Mary Magdalene

    see above

    September 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  15. H. Cross

    Oh course it's a fake ... you don't even need to examine it .. there was no historical person Jesus ....

    September 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • KH

      The Jews acknowledge He lived. The muslims acknowledge He lived. Historical records of the time acknoeledge He lived. Now, you may not believe He is the Son of God, but luckily you live in a country where you are free to believe as you wish. But He was alive.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      There were lots of Jesuses; it was a common name.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  16. Pulseguy

    Wow! Who would have thought this? The Vatican disagreeing with some evidence that more or less negates their entire strategy for hundreds of years.

    This is news?

    September 29, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • dmnewsi

      I am a Christian who believes in Jesus Christ. I do not believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church or their desire to control the message.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      Heh. Who do you think selected which ancient writings would be included in that book you rely on?

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

      A Frayed Knot...Mnay Christians do not "rely on that book" as you suggest. Christianity is about a relationship with God, one that I cannot prove to you exists, especially with your closed mind. I, too, disagree with many of the teaching of the "church", regardless of their denomination. Man has done a tremendous amount to mess up any possibly good message about God so that people like you will never listen. You believe what you want, why ridicule others for their beliefs?

      September 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  17. chris

    There is no way I would trust Catholic Church. They lie about everything. If this is an authentic discovery, the church would be in more turmoil than it is already.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      No way I would trust "Bible god" either – a mean, nasty, monstrous trickster extraordinaire.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  18. Rob

    "This fragment, this new piece of papyrus evidence, does not prove that (Jesus) was married, nor does it prove that he was not married,”
    It also doesn't prove Jesus was 7.5 feet tall, nor does it disprove it.

    Justin, you're a creep

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

      It doesn't even prove there was such a person.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Terry

      @sqeptiq.....Nor does it prove that a single cell mutated (not evolved) to our present day man. What kind of idiot could believe that?

      September 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  19. 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 3:43 pm |
  20. UMT

    Just so happens that I have a 'conservative Jew' friend who lives in Israel and he tells me that: "there is NO WAY that Jesus wouldn't have been married no later than the age of 20." It was his parent's responsibility and surely would have happened."

    I was a 'born again' Christian, who, after reading the bible COMPLETELY 3 times, studying with an 'amplified' Bible., etc. who came to the conclusion that the 'christian church' is a total fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • truth be told

      You are a born again liar, you never read the Bible and you never knew God.

      September 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • no

      Don't worry, it's not just the Christian church. It's all of them. Just look at the sad pathetic morons on here clinging so desperately to their make-believe that they're spamming the contents with drivel they've copied and pasted from other people who copied and pasted stuff from the bible that neither of them have ever read.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Yugnok

      So your Jewish friend who must be an expert on Judaism 2000 years ago because he is Jewish. And he is your friend so that makes you an expert.

      Never mind that there was a community of Jews in the 1st century that lived in Qumran that were celibate. That is where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. Celibacy was not unheard of in 1st century judaism, contrary to your expert opinion.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • paul42

      truth be told
      What do you know!? Many have read the bible and come to different conclusions. Why else would we have so many so-called christian churches? They can't all be right. To call someone a liar because you don't agree with them is just plain silly.
      wrt UMT's comments: As I understand jewish culture and law at the time, not that I am an expert, you had to be at least 30 and married before being a minister or priest or any other function in the jewish clergy. This would indicate that Jesus and Paul and the rest of the apostles were at least thirty and married. I have no more proof than anyone else, just an opinion.
      wrt the Vatican declaring the papyrus about Jesus' wife a fake. I hope it is because they have scientific evidence of it, not because it flies in the face of their teachings. Truth (big T) is Truth no matter how much you want to believe or teach otherwise. A wise man once said, 'accept the truth when it is presented to you, no matter who presents it'. If there is verifiable evidence that Jesus was married, or that baptism was performed a certain way by John the Baptist, then accept it instead of fighting it. And to the inevitable hater that will say the truth is there is no God, I say believe what you want , and let me believe what I want.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:15 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.