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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. Rahn Emanuel

    There is no God but Allah and Mohammud is his messenger.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • TheThinker1958

      I suppose you have a video or something that shows your Religion is the only one valid... put it on YouTube if you have it... and if you don't have it you only have books written by men attributed to someone we usually call God.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Phil from Dallas

      Mohammed came 1500 years after the Bible was written.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  2. Doc Johnson

    Today's Gnostic Gospel Summary:

    Please use as a study guide.

    1. [Jesus] apparently could not be trusted with anything sharp enough to draw with.

    2. Jesus would have to play a primitive form of "charades" while his scribes tried to guess his meaning.

    3. Judas and Mary for example, were quite sure he [Jesus] was a snake in a previous life.

    4. Jesus, while inarticulate and a bit clumsy in general, had an excellent grasp of the fundamentals...

    5. "...and our Lord came unto me [Philip] and witnessed as I behaved without intimidation."

    6. Mary had many pet names for her lover and among them were Snake, Lizard, and Spider.

    7. ...This makes polygamy possible without breaking God's law against Adultery.

    8. Mary (Magdalene), says, "when Joseph's gaze met mine I felt a burning deep within...."

    9. "Jesus found the scribes to be ignorant and foul smelling..."

    10. , "...and Jesus thought not of the female form, and from heaven came to remove ignorance"

    11. ...there are passages which describe in detail that Jesus was cremated.

    12. They [monks] removed the sand from my [Jesus] sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"

    13. "...we [Jesus and monks] meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."

    14. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic."

    15. This discovery is an excellent example of Coptic pigeon. Not unlike today's Hawaiian Islanders...

    16. [Jesus] Married, a Buddhist, a nudist, a true renaissance man of his time.

    17. ...the so called "missionary position" was so named after Jesus walked in on Mary & Joseph having relations.

    18. Many...believe that the many references to Jesus as being "dumb" were in fact a reference to the fact that he was mute.

    19. Jesus was referring to Thomas' ability to mix wine-based c.o.cktails!

    20. , “…our Lord...challenges us in mind and patience.”

    21. In The Book of the Lord, we read, "Wade in the pond often but do not drown." I think that says it all.

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

    23. ...swimming and wrestling were very enjoyable to him, and this is something he wanted to share with his disciples.

    24. ...were involved in one of their many endeavors, in this case the ancient equivalent of a "door man" and a "bartender".

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

    26. ...he [Jesus] was the original "Robin Hood” and the 12 the “Merry Men”...

    Please let me know if you have any questions. dojo

    September 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Heaven Eleven

      I seriously doubt any of this is even true.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Doc Johnson, thank you. It is pretty clear from your work that Jesus was a free spirited Gay man. Fascinating!!

      September 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  3. Now What?

    If these allegations were directed at Mohammed... would the whole be burning as we speak?

    What difference does it make, if Jesus was married or not? That was 2000 years ago

    September 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Who's hole is burning??

      September 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      First.. Mohammed WAS married. There is no controversy.

      Second... has anyone told you that you have a one track mind? And in reality there are different things in the world and they are not all connected?

      September 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  4. Claire

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

    September 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  5. Doc Johnson

    Today's Gnostic Gospel Summary:

    Please use as a study guide.

    1. [Jesus] apparently could not be trusted with anything sharp enough to draw with.
    2. Jesus would have to play a primitive form of "charades" while his scribes tried to guess his meaning.
    3. Judas and Mary for example, were quite sure he [Jesus] was a snake in a previous life.
    4. Jesus, while inarticulate and a bit clumsy in general, had an excellent grasp of the fundamentals...
    5. "...and our Lord came unto me [Philip] and witnessed as I behaved without intimidation."
    6. Mary had many pet names for her lover and among them were Snake, Lizard, and Spider.
    7. ...This makes polygamy possible without breaking God's law against Adultery.
    8. Mary (Magdalene), says, "when Joseph's gaze met mine I felt a burning deep within...."
    9. "Jesus found the scribes to be ignorant and foul smelling..."
    10. , "...and Jesus thought not of the female form, and from heaven came to remove ignorance"
    11. ...there are passages which describe in detail that Jesus was cremated.
    12. They [monks] removed the sand from my [Jesus] sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"
    13. "...we [Jesus and monks] meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."
    14. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic."
    15. This discovery is an excellent example of Coptic pigeon. Not unlike today's Hawaiian Islanders...
    16. [Jesus] Married, a Buddhist, a nudist, a true renaissance man of his time.
    17. ...the so called "missionary position" was so named after Jesus walked in on Mary & Joseph having relations.
    18. Many...believe that the many references to Jesus as being "dumb" were in fact a reference to the fact that he was mute.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • nope

      @dick
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • snopes says

      nope to nope

      September 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • nope

      @snopes,
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  6. MikeP

    The Vatican, and pretty much every religious organization, validates new discoveries by checking their doctrine and seeing if it matches it, which typically it does not. Only when the entire world shifts opinion on something do they grudgingly admit defeat and try to reconcile their doctrine with the widely accepted facts.

    Now, that said, even non-religious organizations are similarly conservative, but most have a means of determining truth that goes beyond "does it support what we already believe? If not, it's invalid".

    September 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  7. Daws

    Unless the supposed counterfeiters were really unimaginative, you'd think if it was a fake they'd fill out the wife sentence more... Why even bother calling it a fake though, just say it was non-cannon something a guy made up over 1600 years ago on his own...oh but then that might apply to all scripture as well.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  8. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    What a hinduism, absurdity, all over a factious figure called Jesus. Word hindu is based on Latin word hindrance, negativity, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. for more visit limitisthetruth.com and click on word Choice to open file.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  9. artemis133

    Of course the Vatican would say that. It might make the brainwashed Catholic population actually THINK!!

    September 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Chris

      Catholics invented universities, they have "thought" for longer then you can imagine.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • TR6

      @Chris: "Catholics invented universities, they have "thought" for longer then you can imagine."

      Typical Christian blow hard, claims there was no civilization before Christianity. Before the Christians were the Greeks and before the Greeks were the Egyptians and they all had universities. However, unlike the Catholics they didn't waste a lot of time arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin

      September 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      chris, many of us can imagine a time before catholicism thereby disproving your assertion.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  10. mensunionorg

    In a true religion that worships the Creative Almighty, the followers would be attempting to be creative, to worship creativity: painters, novelists, musicians, stand up comics (good ones), etc. Most organized religions worship dogma, which is pathetic. They totally miss the point of religion. Fakers abound, don't strap a bomb on your chest for them. mensunion org

    September 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Reader

      Ah,yes, atheism, that great builder of civilization. Or secularism, that great diviner of the world that teaches us that destroying the governments of Islamic countries will bring forth Democracy.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  11. Nare

    These guys have a little, uh, CREDIBILITY PROBLEM. I'm gonna need another source.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Chris

      If you mean abuse then Protestants, Jews, Boy Scouts, Teachers, Doctors, etc. etc. all have the exactly same credibility problem, in fact many of those groups are worse.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  12. Rufus T. Firefly

    The Catholic Church also declared that the idea that the Sun stood still and that the Earth moved were false and "altogether contrary to Holy Scripture" Since that time they have been forced to admit that their claims about the earth orbiting the sun being false, were false.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • JohnF

      The sun doesn't stand still you moron. The sun travels through the galaxy at 486,000mph. The church got mad at Galileo for publishing works that reinterpreted scripture according to his model. When people try to judge situations that happened in ancient times without understanding the culture, it just doesn't work.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      I was referring to the sun standing still relative the earth, as I suspect was Copernicus, Galileo, and the Catholic Church. Settle down, big fella.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  13. OkayMan

    Okay if the real Jesus was to take physical form, he would go to the Vatican and turn it out. They would be so fired if not sporting bruises and breaks. Get out of here wit that nonsense.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  14. Herby Sagues

    Vatican: this evidence is false because it contradicts our long-held beliefs based on unverifiable evidence.
    QED.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Welch

    How ironic. All of religion is fake.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • nope

      @welcher
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • snopes says

      nope to nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Nope to nope

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

      To elmer...
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • truth be told

      What ever one so called atheist will lie to another will swear to.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      "What ever one so called atheist will lie to another will swear to."

      Now see – that's why they let you go from the
      Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co..

      September 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      @tbt: "What ever one so called atheist will lie to another will swear to."

      I hereby swear to your statement.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  16. rr

    After 60 years of lying about pedophile Priests and protecting them, we should believe anything the Vatican says? They lack and credability.

    September 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • truth be told

      A few lying ho mo se xual perverts deceived their way into the priesthood to ply their evil deeds on the innocent and unsuspecting. To blame the entire church for that is like blaming banks for bank robbery

      September 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "truth be told" degnerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" deganerates to:
      "captain america" degnerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degnerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degnerates to:
      "fred" degnerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" or "...."
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this ho mophobe as
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      September 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Herby Sagues

      @truth: if they were a few, I would be with you. But the rate of pedophilia in priests is amazingly high, way higher than that in the general population. And the church itself PROMOTED these priests and protected them. So you can't take blame out of the church. Maybe religion is not evil (I personally think it is) and maybe Christianity is not worse than other religions (it may not) but the church IS corrupt. It is a bunch of self-professed god-like priests that affirm their inerrancy while they say things that are recurrently proven wrong (may I remind you that they claimed as an inerrable truth that the sun circled around earth, that we didn't evolve from other animals, and that there weren't cases of abuse in the church). They spend billions in jewelry and in ivory idols while they don't do any good that wouldn't be done without them.

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

      @herb...
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      tbt, it would be like blaming the banks for bank robbery if the robbers were bank employees, the banks took a little off the top, moved the robbers to work at other branches with poorer security systems, and promised customers that no one was being robbed. There, now your analogy works (but keep in mind, in real life we're not just talking about talking money, we are talking about ra ping small children). Shame on you for making excuses for them.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Colin

      "Nope" I must congratulate you. Not since high school have I so wanted to wring somebody's smug, scrawy little neck as yours. Assuming irritating people is you goal, you have succeeded beyond your wildest dreams.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • snopes says

      nope to nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • nope

      @snopes
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • OTOH

      Colin,

      I hear ya' on @nope-a-dope, but take heart in the fact that he is making a mockery of himself and his beliefs in front of all of us with each and every inane remark.

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

      @tbt: "To blame the entire church for [pedophile priests] is like blaming banks for bank robbery"

      Banks as a general rule don't cover for robbers. If a teller is found to be involved in a robbery, the bank doesn't simply move the teller to another branch.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 29, 2012 at 4:17 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 4:20 pm |
    • Herby Sagues

      Yes, it wastes time.
      There's absolutely not a single recorded and verifiable event in all of history where prayer actually changed things in a way that's beyond statistical chance. Never prayer has made an amputee's leg row back. People that is being prayed for by millions (e.g. the Pope) have life expectancies and health status that don't differ from those of atheists and people not being prayed for. During a bombing or earthquake, rates of survival for atheists are exactly the same as those for religious people that prayed.
      I whish what you way was true, but whishing won't make a difference, it is factually false. Prayer never changes anything other than the prayer's mind (and not always in a good way).

      September 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayer-bot...

      September 29, 2012 at 4:25 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 is so.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • truth be told

      @herb
      William Wilberforce, prayer warrior and architect of the dismantling of the slave trade.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • truth be told

      Look then at all the prayers that have already been answered. Healing from leprosy, polio and smallpox and a thousand other diseases, massive advances in science and technology and all the other wonders God has given us.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      truth be told:

      Healing from leprosy? Are you kidding?

      It seems as if you are not a believer in the Bible. In Leviticus 14 The LORD spoke to Moses and told him the correct treatment and cure for leprosy in no uncertain terms. It is the dangedest, silliest thing you'd ever want to read. This was the LORD speaking - THE LORD – how dare anyone search for a better treatment!

      Briefly:

      Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird's blood. Wipe some blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times. That's all there is to it. Saith THE LORD!

      September 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • truth be told

      @afrayed knot
      Did it work?

      September 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      truth be told:
      "did it work?"

      The Bible doesn't really say, but:

      " In a significant percentage of cases (especially in tuberculoid leprosy), the disease will eventually burn-out or spontaneously go into remission, even if specific treatment hasn't been given. However, much damage may have occurred by then." - http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/leprosy.shtml

      September 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  18. Rick

    I'm no expert, but I could tell right off.....its a fake! Total fake!

    September 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Indigo Red

      I'm not an expert either, but I have seen papyrus pieces that have authentic Biblical writing (not saying the Bible is true, just the scraps were used in the translation of the Bible) and they are crude, beat-up, flimsy, aged edges, and brittle with really tiny, faded writing. This piece is everything the authentic pieces were not. It's a fake.

      September 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  19. Last Day

    Vatican,

    SON OF MAN has already COME, as JESUS foretold,
    in the beginning of this most critical Third and Last DAY (=MILLENNIUM) now (John 6/27, 40)!

    So immediately give ear and listen to him now, and thus clearly and unmistakably see JESUS here again (Luke 13/35 = John 6/40) before it may be too late for you then (Matthew 7/21-23)!

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    GOD created His book of Universe and His book of Religion
    based on same 19 coded, Symmetrical most Superb "Mathematical Language!"

    September 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  20. Ronald Raygun

    all religion is fake.. just sayin

    September 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • nope

      @ronald...
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • carlb

      sir while i do not believe in religions as a whole there is something out there that you have to believe in or you have no hope. that is what a supposed god gives hope that you have a purpose for the years you spend on the earth and something after. hope is very powerful to get you to the next day and beyond

      September 29, 2012 at 4:56 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.