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 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Timothy Tebow - God's OTHER son

      No. No it doesn't.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Atheism is not, Holy Father, hot drivelling hindering snatch

      Creepy thrashing nags.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • James PDX

      Prayer takes up valuable time that could have been spent accomplishing positive things so, yes, it does change things negatively.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayer-bot.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Huebert

      Please don't feed the troll. However, feel free to stick around and watch him make a weak elusion to me being a troll.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • coder20601

      Religion has killed more humans and living things.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Hindu Yogi

      You are right on that point. I am a practising Hindu and I firmly believe kids must be raised with an awareness of the Divinity in all of us (whether Hindu , Christian, Jew etc.) .
      The Hindu Prophet Sri Krishna had 8 wifes – and that does NOT make him any less divine – so why should Jesus having a wife (if he did) make him less divine ?
      Just follow the COMMANDMENTS and don't take other things seriously – it is impossible to ascertain the facts after 2000 years .

      September 29, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  2. Wrenn_NYC

    Letsee... did they give their reasons? Did they actually examine the thing?

    No?? Then how can they know?

    This is not the tack that biblical scholars should take on this. This is a piece of papyrus, which looks like it came – as they say – from the 4th century. CE (Christian Era. That's 4th Century AD. So... 250+ years after his purported 'time on earth'.
    We know (anyone knows, if they study it) that the first couple centuries, there were a lot of wild beliefs and suppositions about this person. There were groups of 'christians' who believed he never had a real body (Docetism) Those that didn't believe he was diving (Socianism). every possible permutation in between.

    In short, If real, this is a piece of writing from smack dab in the middle of the time period where a lot of different heresies flourished. It's not what Christians believe now. That's the long and short of it.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      What is curious that given all the apocryphal flotsam and jetsam of the first five centuries, why is the Vatican choosing to draw more attention to this?

      September 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  3. Rod in Texas

    That's odd! Didn't they also tell Gallileo that his finding that the Sun was the center of the universe and not the Earth was "fake" as well?

    September 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • James PDX

      They also tried and imprisoned him for it.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      I don't think so. They DID tell him that his view was heretical and that if he wanted to live he had best recant that view and then shut up, which he did, more or less. He lived the rest of his life under "house arrest" by the Catholic church.

      September 29, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  4. Russ

    the Vatican is not alone here.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Claire

      Sad that the Vatican still exists. Old fogies that hide child abusers, too commonly. Sick men with too much vested interest in propping up their fable and hiding in their fancy silk dresses. They are disgusting.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  5. hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

    NFL, truth, a pass conceived is hail mary, absurdity of replacement officials, ignorant, high school officials is dependent on blind calls, program also known as scrubs strike 180 absurd, and pass interference is development of a blind man in to a receiver. have some eduction, knowledge, before throwning flag for block in back, To learn more visit nfl,com and click on referee lock out to open file.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Kafeer ism, ID thief, absurdity of a humanity, your Hind hurts.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  6. Doc Johnson

    If you read both Timothy and Phillip, there are passages which describe in detail that Jesus was cremated.

    We know this because his friends were asked to take his ashes to the Sea of Galilee and deposit them over, "...the lapping waves of His Father's own sink basin".

    September 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  7. writingmomma

    A believer must walk by faith and not by sight. When our end has come, then we will all know if we will receive a reward for our beliefs or penalty for unbelief. We must not argue about faith. There are too many other issues that are worldly to argue about, politics, law, ect... If someone does not believe, we must be examples of Christ with our lives, not our mouths. Love even those that are unbelievers. Pray for them that are unbelievers. Do not waste time arguing with someone that has made up their minds. You are then wasting valuable time yourselves. The bible says that a man/woman are always right in their own eyes. Be patient with everyone. But, know this, that when He returns and we are caught up, believers will be like him.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Towelie

      Hi writingmomma, are you holding? You wanna get high with a towel?

      September 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      You pray for us, we'll think for you!
      We're not worried about the end because there is no evidence outside of your bible to say anythign else exists. I feel for you to be living such a horrific existence waiting for something that can't nor will ever be proven to exist....you take away the value of the only life you are guaranteed of-how wasteful!

      September 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Brad

      The requirement to believe was Pauls idea. All Jesus said to do if you believe his actual biblical words are to love each other as he loved us. All of the other requirements were mans ideas.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  8. Heaven Eleven

    This find is unimportant. The good news God wanted to share with us can be found in the Holy Bible. This is God's truth and the only knowledge we need to have as human beings.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      And yet you're using a piece of technology to post your opinion that was created with knowledge that was not in the bible. Way to be a hypocrite.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Rod in Texas

      hawaiiguest.........AWESOME RESPONSE!!!! LOL

      September 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Heaven Eleven


      God has given us these miracles and I thank him.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Heaven Eleven

      What a lovely cop-out to justify your onw hypocritical actions. How proud you must feel to be able to justify intellectual dishonesty with your religion.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • James PDX

      Which good news is that? That God flooded the planet, murdering every man woman and child and aborting every single fetus? That's only good news to a psychopath.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • truth be told

      Could you name some of those for us?

      September 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Heaven Eleven


      I will pray for you that one day the light of life and faith will fill you with the same happiness I enjoy every day. You may hate God, but God loves you friend.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Heaven Eleven

      @James PDX

      The good news that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He is the light of the world and through Jesus you can have everlasting happiness in Heaven. I would say that is pretty good news!

      September 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      If your only proof for your god is the bible, then your proof fails horribly...it is called circular reasoning and doesn't stand in this world as proof of anything more than historical fiction, written by man, inspired by man.
      So while you pray for us, we will think for you because without us doing the thinking, our species is doomed!

      September 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Heaven Eleven

      I don't hate god, because it's impossible to hate something I don't think exists. You know, christian apologists and your preacher are really bad sources for what other people (especially people who don't believe the same things you do) believe or think.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  9. NC_Mike

    You expected different? Even if is authentic that have to say its a fake or they'd have to surrender celibacy they invented for priests to protect church property. from spouses.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  10. OnlyOne

    I think the Vatican speak is Divinely Wishful Thinking

    September 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  11. Adevilson

    I always knew that Jesus could not have been married to a woman, since we all know he not only was GAY, but had affairs with John, underage boys, and his apostles!!! How would he betray all his male affairs with a ... woman?

    September 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  12. LarryB

    Yep, if the Vatican issues a statement, you can take it to the bank – the riverbank, that is. Throw it in with the rest of the sewage.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  13. Theen Allah Fat Mullah (the original hinduism source.....)

    Theen A ism, corruption of loot'ers, hoot'ers, root'ers, shoot'ers, fake like popy'rus.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  14. seyedibar

    A fake it may be, but that doesn't change the fact that the same story shows up in 3 other apocryphal gospels. I think the Vatican is just loathe to admit that these stories are as varied and fluid as any other outdated religion's folklore.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  15. richajam

    And when I left the preistnhood to become an ordanary man, they questioned my beliefs because I did not submitt to their every expectation and support of their practices without question( even when you know they are very wrong).Thye told me It was temptation from Satan- I called it common sense- like 1+1=2 right? In their eyes they woudl say it was 4 out of spite.
    Of course this piece was destined to be labled a fake. When you base your relifious rights of a faith that has no physical proof of why you should practice it, besides a book they teach from and that was written by their own hand, you come to realize that this church is a Business not a center of spiritual faith, of which they would like lead you to believe.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Obviously not a Catholic school graduate

      September 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • richajam

      obviously. =)
      If you dont see the color red as bishop's mindful color of red- out you go as an outcast.
      So cast your stones here and now. Show us your true color that you wish us to see, oh dear Brother.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  16. PaulC1

    What would you expect them to say? "Oh ,yeah, her name was Shirley and she used to say all the time, 'Jesus Christ, would you cut it out?'"

    September 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  17. Mike in NJ

    Overheard at the Vatican: "We have top men working on it now... TOP men."

    September 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  18. Doc Johnson

    Perhaps I can draw your attention to a passage in the Gospel of Truth, which states, "Jesus found the scribes to be ignorant and foul smelling..."

    These men were his employees and Jesus showed a discernible dislike for them. Perhaps out of jealousy that they were educated where he was not.

    The text goes on to say, "...and Jesus thought not of the female form, and from heaven came to remove ignorance"

    Again giving weight to the common thinking that Jesus was a h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  19. heresince

    There are 22 gospels the catholic church didn't happen to like 18 of them sooooo , now we have 4. Most of them were weeded out because they implied that man/woman can have direct access with God and the church wanted to make sure that everything came from and went through them. Nothing more or less than any governing body has done since forever.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  20. John Blackadder

    Did the Vatican have anyone look at the parchment or did they just speak with Divine Authority?

    A wife for Christ messes up everything from celibacy to Marianism. And, if he were married, he probably wasn't celibate, which raises issues about his divinity. And if Mary Magdalene was his wife, which would seem likely if he had a wife at all, then the church's treatment of her as a harlot is seriously messy. And what if he had kids!!!!!!

    September 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      and what if his kids all converted to Islam? Islam ism is Christian ism and vice versa.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Russ

      Where does it say that?

      September 28, 2012 at 5:24 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.