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. SentTheWave

    "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views."
    – The Doctor

    October 1, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Tom Baker

      Care for a Jelly Baby?

      October 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  2. TJ

    If Jesus' wife is so fake, is she on

    Real Housewives of Jerusalem?

    October 1, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  3. tgm

    It beggars belief that a tiny bit of papyrus had somehow survived with a controversial statement on it, which subsequently fell on to the commercial market for controversial papyri.

    If you believe the text is authentic, you will believe anything.

    October 1, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • Realist

      hey, people believe in the bible.. Not that's even crazier.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  4. Barbara Young

    All Sons and Daughters of God can Unite with Their DivineSpirit and Visually Enter into the DivineRealm and Become a Teacher. Material marriage has nothing to do with it. Is not God the Mother and Father Married and are not all Living Sentient Beings from the Mother? Man should not dishonor the Father and Mother by celibacy. It is an error. We are very young, but not that young to reason the dishonor to God our Father and Mother with celibacy. templechryses.org

    October 1, 2012 at 4:29 am |
    • SentTheWave

      You know you only have to capitalize proper nouns and the first letter of of the first word of a sentence, right?

      October 1, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  5. Sera

    They did!? No way! I was totally expecting the Vatican to be like "Oh hey, looks like we made a little mistake there. We'll be sure to correct that for the benefit of future generations."

    If it's not news about an altar boy's cornhole, they don't want to hear about it. -_-;

    October 1, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Realist

      good one..

      October 1, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  6. Ryan Cameron

    The Vatican is based entirely on a lie: with its imaginary god at the head, it is the epitome of "fake". For it to call anything fake is the height of ridiculous.

    October 1, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  7. Last Day

    The teachings of Vatican are absolutely WRONG;

    The teachings of Jesus are absolutely RIGHT!

    Here are the most Clear and Solid ultimate Mathematical Proofs:



    October 1, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  8. Reality

    Putting the kibosh/”google” on religion to Christianity:

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    September 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Jill

      To "Reality":
      I'm not even religious, and I was offended by your post. You can't "put the kabash" on anything with such terrible citations...and that's putting aside the fact that your source...is Google. That's very bad science.

      October 1, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Reality

      As requested: (btw, Google is a search engine used to quickly find the latest and best information)

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      October 1, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians like Jill ? from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      October 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Reality


      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As does Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      Some added references to "tink-erbells".


      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:


      October 1, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  9. Last Day

    Blessed Water of Jesus and Blood of Jesus Special!
    2oz. and 4oz. in gold-antiqua bottles

    50% Off thru 11/30/2012


    September 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  10. Last Day


    will you be such enemies of Jesus (Matthew 7/21-23)

    or thus the true followers of the Son of Man (John 6/27, 40)

    in this most critical Third and Last Day (=Millennium) now (John 6/40)?



    September 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  11. AvdBerg

    Damn the devil is in my head again. I'm not making any sense !!! HELP ME !!!!

    September 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      HELP ME PLEASE !!!!!

      September 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  12. doctore0

    Its all fake, the Jesus/God.wife.. all fake

    September 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  13. Flying Scot

    The Catholic Church is a fake. Cripes they even invented marriage because church attendance was falling and they needed another revenue source. On the other hand they could generate a ton of money should they follow Apples lead and sue gay couples who have gotten married because it infringes on their marriage patent. Would be pretty easy to establish a first use patent....hey just a thought...and they could use that money to pay victims of church child abuse...

    September 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Catholics invented marriage? Who knew?

      October 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  14. charlotte

    Didn't they claim one of the Gospels was a fake as well? They need to prove it's a fake or their argument, like most of their other dictates, carries no water.

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

      Yes, they did. It was the Gospel of Judas found about 10 years ago or so. What is interesting is that gospel stated 'and priests will be in front of the alter. These same priests will be for-nica-ting with women and children..' Sure describes the pope and bishops.. Look it up, I believe it's in the national geographic web site. Go there and enter Gospel of Judas.

      September 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 30, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Realist

      you are a small sick child, huh?

      September 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • nope


      September 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Realist

      That's OK,, we understand

      September 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • nope


      September 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • snopes says

      nope to nope

      September 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • nope


      October 1, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Realist

      correct snopes,, nopes say 'nope' making it two negatives, which means YES. Must be some subconscious message creeping out into nope's delusional world.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      October 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  16. nadinesh

    Well I guess it's official now. Papa has spoken. Now they can go back believing all the intolerant nonsense they were raised with. Hallelujah.

    September 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  17. B


    September 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  18. paulm5545

    Blasphemer!! Take to the streets! They have insulted Jesus! Burn, loot and murder...it's justified, don't ya know?

    September 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  19. Realist

    The pope is a joke.. Not only do condoms help prevent std's (more especially aids), but when used in conjunction with a female using contraceptives – pregnancy rates drop significantly, almost nil. The pope is nothing more than a jerk who has zero concept of humanity.

    Then again, a guy who wears a dress, ruby red shoes and a ruby red hat and claims gay is wrong – is no doubt a severely psychotic person in need of help.

    September 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Realist

      the vatican and their hierarchy of the pope, cardinals and bishops are
      an example of how like people gather, in this case those who are severely in need of psychological help. And peopel actually believe these people,, that's what's more alarming.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • JPX

      Also, he wears a dress, a silly hat, and he resembles the Emporer from Star Wars.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Now to the nitty-gritty:

      The reality of se-x, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-
      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)- RCC/Vatican approved
      – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

      Followed by:

      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent) – RCC/Vatican Approved
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)-RCC/Vatican Approved
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)- RCC/Vatican Approved

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      September 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Realist

      use of condoms and the woman using contraceptives is the most effect method to birth control, Do the math, don't isolate the two or you'll look silly.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  20. Name

    Uh oh, Catholics, you don't want to start thinking critically now. Who knows where that slippery slope might lead!

    September 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • RBSG

      The Army of Jesus will punish you for saying that. His servants are everywhere, just ready to press the "report abuse" link, anytime they don't like your comment.

      September 30, 2012 at 10:00 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.