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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Hi Prayerbot.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:35 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 5:35 pm |
    • someonewithabrain

      prayer is gonna change your deities plan? i thought that your god had a plan?
      i thought your god knew all things before they happened?
      what,your deities plans are not really that well laid out?
      your christ stains do not really think these things thru,do ya?
      morons.grow a brain.get off your knees and actually DO something for a change.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Sheepleherder

      Were you aware that the majority of people who are about to die prey for their physical salvation? It doesn't seem to to do most of them a lot of good. In fact, it would seem that the odds of being reprieved are equal between atheist and true believers of every religion. Apparently, atheism is just as healthy as any other belief system.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Sheepleherder

      or should that be pray? I guess that's about the same too.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Gerard

    That was quick. Took them a few hundred years to admit they were wrong about the solar system. It wouldn't do to have Jesus be married, would it? Next thing women will be claiming equality in the Catholic Church. What next?

    September 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  3. Doc Johnson

    May I have your attention class. This is your exam; True or False:

    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”...

    September 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • ,

      BULL SH IT ALERT

      September 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • ,

      AND EVERY TIME ONE OF THESE BULL SH ITTERS, OH CRAP MOM'S CALLING AGAIN – GOT TO PUT THE GARBAGE OUT.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  4. 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

    There is only one GOD who created His book of Universe and His book of Religion
    based on this 19 coded, Symmetrical most Superb "Mathematical Language!"

    September 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dude

      lol

      September 30, 2012 at 3:41 am |
  5. Frank

    Of course, we certainly don't want to read 1Corinthians where St Paul teaches that celibacy is preferred over married priest or the words of Jesus in the Gospels where he talks about celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven. Also, there are married Catholic priests. But heck, why not take shots at the Catholic Church when there's an opportunity.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  6. jim

    op Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013
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    Of the twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare, below are the five worst that will be foisted upon Americans for the first time on January 1, 2013:

    The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase: Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.

    The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase: The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap).

    There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

    more on Drudge..

    September 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • nope

      @HeavenSent
      Nope.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • paul613

      The great thing about Jim's utterly off-topic attempt to hijack the thread is that it will live forever in the Internet hall of shame.

      September 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  7. HMichaelH

    Is it sufficient for the Vatican to just say it's a fake, and that's it? Do they have to have some evidence to support their claim that it is fake? Or is this the Pope speaking "Ex Cathedra" in his role as the infallible representative of god on earth? (Of course, we know popes in the past have spoken as such, and been proven absolutely wrong about their position. The claim the earth is the center of the universe comes immediately to mind!)

    September 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You atheists will be tortured for eternity. You are pathetic and believe the lies of the talmud. I have to keep flea and tick shampoo in my shower next to the lift. Blame it on the Christians for having the guts to tell idiots God's truth.

      Amen.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Claire "Hell Bound" C.

      @ Heaven Sent
      Unfortunately, we've gotten a preview tasting of the torture to come listening to the likes of you.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Frank

      To HMICHAELH. The popes are infallible on issues of faith and morals when sitting excathedra. They do not claim infallibility on issues of science. BTW did you know that Copernicus, the originator of the the theory that Gallileo taught was a Catholic Priest?

      September 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  8. Any Reasonable Person

    Uhhhhhhh . . . . . . . . . . earth to vatican..........
    come in, vatican..............
    do you read me?
    you DO realize your entire religion is a pile of lies, right?
    RIGHT?
    hello?

    September 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • nope

      @any...
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Claire

      @ Nope:
      Even the Bible talks about the dangers of blind faith. Are you understanding what you're reading? Let me guess: "Nope."

      September 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • truth be told

      @claire
      Nope has a profound elegance and nope has a sincere grasp of what is and isn't more so than you I would expect.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • nope

      @truth be told
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • nope

      @truth be told
      yep

      September 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Galileo calling Vatican

      Uhhhhhhh . . . . . . . . . . Heaven to vatican..........
      come in, vatican..............
      do you read me?
      I see from up here Earth revolves around the sun!!
      hello?
      hello?
      hello?

      September 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  9. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

    What a Theen Allah, absurdity, all over a factious popy'rus. Word Theen is based on a male Anx Jedi Padawan who served the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic of Mecca, Theen was killed during the Yinchorri Uprising of 33 BBY, Theen and Fat, negative to both of them, Fat, a noun in negativity, Theen ism, way of negativity, for more visit StarWars.com and click on word TheenFida to open file.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

      Word Puke is based on Latin absurd word Puki, Pe or Pa, Te, or Ta, meaning from stomach ism 180 and throat base word for Sick in English, Upchuck, blowing chunks or spewing ism, meaning, worshiping at the porcelain throne or a sweaty, infection of puke absolute ism, such as flu, or Food poisoning, in disregard diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge ism , One who takes a s.h.i.t to be in violation of his body without his consent, considering himself to be dying, the truth you drank too much tequila ism 180, same as in barfing, denier it doesn’t work, word projectile abused vomiting is based on Latin word vomi, icky, smelly, horrible, icky, to be in a pool of sick and HeavenSent, to be dumber than the fluids leaking from your absurd ravished body ism to both of them, watery eyes, a noun in missing work, puke in your nose, way of making absurd filthy you even sicker, as in word “ralph”, a self-violating or a ja.panese p.o.r.n.o, otherwise known as a freak, a sadist. Puking is not an accident but a way to clear the crud ism 180 from your mutilated digestive system, defiance to the Lysol and filthy towels you will use ism absurd 180 filthy ism.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  10. stefano

    The problem with apocryphal gospels (and literature) are many, but two are the biggest: they were written by non-eye-witnesses, hundreds of years after the events, and they use Jesus as a character for their own purposes (often related to a philosophical/religious movement called Gnosticism, somewhat popular in the Greco-Roman world).
    As Christianity was rising and becoming aware of itself and popular, elements of its most famous stories spread and were used by anyone who cared to include those in their set of beliefs (the Romans did not have any rigid religious system).
    Therefore it is possible to find stories about Jesus that are different from those we find in the Canonical Gospels.
    But they are by no means historical accounts. Therefore a Jesus with a wife could come up (if the fragment is legit, which is to be proved still).
    BUT: all Jewish priests and rabbis were married. If Jesus had been married it would not have been a scandal for anyone, back then, and we would know. The historical chances that Jesus had a wife are simply zero.
    Even if the idea can sound fascinating for you, come to terms with it and don't be fooled by hype that is devised to sell papers and books (even in the high brow Harvard environment).

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

    Hitchen's Razor: What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • christopher hitchens

      Someone forgot to tell hal/ phony jesus/ truth be trolled etc.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Stan

      Of course, the follow-up will require the definition of the word "evidence".

      September 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Claire

      @ Stan- Are you serious? Scientific theory is posited based on the physical and dedutive evidence of properly conducted inquiry. Provide anything not anecdotal re: God.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  12. Grumpy

    They who concocted the lineage for Mary, Mother of Jesus, after the fact, just to prove he was of the house and lineage of David are going to declare this piece of papyrus a fake. If it doesn't suit their purposes, it's fake. If it helps them maintain control of their vast fortunes, property holdings, stocks, bonds, and so many souls, it's true! Nothing's changed.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • paul613

      Mary's "house" was, and is, immaterial. In Jewish theology, the messiah must descend from David through the chain of fathers. If Jesus is the son of G-d, he is disqualified from being the Messiah. Don't take my word for it; check out Jewish messianism in Wikipedia.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • stefano

      If you want to question the canonical gospels fine, but at least do not make blatant mistakes: the lineage is attributed to Joseph, not to Mary. Anyway, if you want to question the canonical gospels, you should be honest enough to question all ancient literature in the same way. And you would end up having NO ancient history: the gospels are the best attested ancient writings in the world. But maybe you are one of those people for whom history just doesn't count... God luck Grumps.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • smarter than u

      The lineage to David was through Joseph. If the lineage from Mary was to David that would have been a bit incestuous...In any case, Joseph was from Bethlehem, not Mary. Oh, and your anger is showing...Jesus could help you fix that if you would just let him. 🙂 God Bless.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Atheism is not, Holy Father, hot drivelling hindering snatch

      Creepy thrashing nags.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi prayerbot.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  14. Bootyfunk

    i heard some guy in greece found a fragment of parchment that says hercules had a vasectomy! i just love discussing mythological figures like hercules, king arthur and jesus!

    September 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • nope

      @bitterfink...
      nope

      September 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  15. Marc

    Any time the church decides to discredit something by saying it's fake, especially something like this that shows the church has a good motive for trying to discredit it, makes me ask where the INDIPENDENT UNBIASED proof is?

    September 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • truth be told

      The ink on the papyrus was still wet

      September 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  16. Phil from Dallas

    My wife and I have discussed this, and it pleases us to think that Jesus was married. Why shouldn't he have had a woman to love and comfort him during his short tortured life? Behind every great man is a great woman encouraging him on.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      Phil, that also pleases me greatly. I am so pleased.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Heaven Eleven

      Phil, I think it is lovely. The good news is all of these atheists can either get saved or they will burn in hell. I will pray that they see the light.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  17. mememememememe

    well, duh, if it was authentic then all this celibacy crap would have no basis.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Phil from Dallas

      You know, of course, where the whole celibacy thing with the Catholics came from don't you. They didn't always have the no-wife rule, then they discovered that rich priests were dying and leaving their wealth to their wives and children. Then, voila,
      the no-wife rule was passed, and the church would inherit the dead guys stuff. I learned that during an intense study of different religions.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I thought the wives were interupting their "special" time with the alter boys...

      September 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Demigod Vadik, CA

      This has nothing to do with celebacy, everything to do with divinity...

      ...catholic priests could marry until about the 600's...

      ...then the church stopped that because priests sons were inheriting church's property...

      ...the answer, make marriage of priests illegal, hence no inheritance of illegitemate kids, hence church gets to keep their property...

      September 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  18. NativeBornUSA

    A three inch piece of paper that has no context even with regard to the name Jesus which was actually quite popular and common during this time........that anyone could have even taken it seriously faked or just some piece of paper is historically hillarious.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Phil from Dallas

      Sorry, I think you're wrong. Jesus is only a popular name among hispanics, not Hebrews.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Phil, you are wrong. Back then the name was popular, not now.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • truth be told

      Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Yeshua. Christ is not His last name it is the Greek form of Messiah.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  19. Let It Be

    I believe in an almighty God. I believe nothing coming out of the vatican as they have their own agenda.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  20. Oldkat

    To those that hate Christians. I cannot prove the Bible is true. You cannot prove it is not. At this point we are even.
    Now consider that you are right and when you die that is the end. I will be in the same situtations as you.
    Now consider that I am right. When I die I will go to Heaven and live forever with god and with everything good. You on the other hand will spend forever in hell being tortured. Forever has no end. Either way I win and you lose big time.

    September 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • 24 Hour Crisis Center

      @Oldkat

      I can't prove Santa Claus is real. You can't prove he's not. At this point we are even.

      I can't prove the Easter bunny is real. You can't prove he's not. At this point we are even.

      I can't prove unicorns are real. You can't prove they are not. At this point we are even.

      I can't prove Leprochauns are real. You can't prove the are not. At this point we are even.

      You can't prove the Bible is wront. I can.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Huh?

      Oldkat, I love how little credit you give the Almighty God creater of all things. He won't even know if we are lying are not. Awsome, what a dum ass.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Douglas

      Take your head out of the sand... it doesn't work that way. If you assert something like god exists, the onus is on you to provide some plausible evidence. Sheesh, I guess you took the advice to "become like a child" quite literally.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Where is Fallacy Spotter?? Sleeping on job I see.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Douglas

      Oh... and we've all heard of Pascal's Wager that your passing off as your own piece of wisdom. Bunk.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Phil from Dallas

      I prefer to live my life believing that there is a God to die and find out I was wrong instead of living my life believing there is no God to die and find out I was wrong.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Douglas

      Ah yes, Phil... the old "what have you got to lose by swallowing this story?" line of reasoning. You'll have to do better than that to convince me that some little man lives in the sky.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Claire

      Hitchen's Razor: "What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."

      September 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Dude

      Look up "Pascal's Wager", it's not a very devout way to express your faith if you're basing it simply off of wanting to get into heaven.
      Also, couldn't that same line of reasoning be used for ANY other religion? Even if you're wagering on a religion (I assume a Christian denomination) there are still many different other beliefs that might actually be the right one.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Wait, so Phil...for you it is just a choice? You don't really know one way or the other, but you "choose" to below to CYA?

      I don't think it works that way friend.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • stephan

      Really OldKat, you would your fellow humans burn in hell, as you relax in heaven.

      As we scream and gnash our teeth in agony, you would feel right fine in plushy heaven?

      I think I get now where Lucifer was coming from, I'm joining the rebellion to bring your sick twisted go down.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Tia

      Actually, Oldkat, if you're wrong then you will have lived your life according to a set of rules made up by people who wanted to control others rather than living your life without the fear of offending your imaginary deity. I will have lived my life without the fear of of being sent to a fiery pit for eternity by a being who I'm supposed to believed loves us all. In the end, we're both dead but I won't have lived my life in fear of your hell so I win.

      September 29, 2012 at 5:23 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.