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. correctlycenter

    Go by what God's word says, Jesus Christ stepped out of His Godship to be a human being to teach, heal the sick, free people from the bondage of satan, and to ultimately die on the cross for our sin debt. Don't go by man's flawed opinions or whoever wants their 15 minutes of fame and write a book. Trust in Jesus, not those who want to spread lies and profit from them...

    October 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      "god's word".......right....written by man, translated by man, edited by man....but it's "god's word"....not too clear is it?

      October 2, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • sam stone

      oooh....the "sin debt"

      without guilt, christianity is dead in the water

      October 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  2. be


    October 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  3. be

    The Vatican will suppress everything that benefits humanity until they are exposed for what they really are. Committee of 300 Knights of Malta Vatican Bankers P2 Masonic lodge no longer welcome on Earth!!!!!! .

    October 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Devin

      Man, you are so funny. I'm one of those knights (sort of, you have it all wrong) and the Vatican has never contacted me...

      October 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • be

      @ Devin, OR am I?

      October 1, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  4. EPUnum

    Any other answer from the Vatican could be construed as the truth.

    October 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  5. Martin

    Jesus was most likely gay. If he was married, it was probably just for show.

    October 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Martin

      Not that there's anything wrong with that.

      October 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Common Sense

      You're a f.u.c_k.i.n.g. idi.ot if you really believe Jesus was g.ay

      October 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • SB1790

      Jesus was a 30 something year old single Jewish man whose mother told him he was the son of God. He had a large male entourage. Of course he was gay.

      October 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      A large male entourage? Probably used it a lot out in the desert with his boy toys

      October 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  6. DeeCee1000

    Yeah. Like we should rely on the Vatican to tell us the truth about anything. LOL. This is such an absurd situation it should be written down in the "bible". . . .as if the creepy fellows at the Vatican would ever tell their blind sheep Jesus had a wife. LOL omg.

    October 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  7. Last Day

    The teachings of Vatican are utterly False;

    The teachings of Jesus are absolutely True!

    Here is the Most Clear and Solid "Mathematical Evidence" that absolutely proves that
    Jesus was a real Prophet who taught the world the absolute Truth!



    October 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Mike

      Your math is lacking

      October 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • be

      AGREED! Jesus came to liberate us and our oppressors who are the same families today as they were then, twisted his teachings to prevent anyone from understanding them and used them to further enslave the masses

      October 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  8. Vince

    There's no physical evidence that a "Jesus" even existed. Nothing! And, it wasn't until decades after his supposed death that anyone wrote about a "Jesus." No eye witnesses ever wrote anything about Jesus. The story of Jesus, which is highly unoriginal when it comes to "gods" in ancient times, is nothing more than a myth.

    October 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      if it were the case, it would be pretty amusing. sort of like performance art

      October 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • JFCanton

      No eyewitnesses who had other recorded writings, anyway. The writers of the synoptic Gospels claimed to be eyewitnesses.

      In any case this is an anachronistic argument. Very little is positively known of any commoner of that time. The absence in "official" records is much less indicative than the fact that a new religion promptly popped up.

      October 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  9. old ben

    Well if this fragment is insinuating that Jesus' wife was a fake, then I might have to agree. Because he doesn't mention her much, although we do suspect he was married. But you know, he preferred the "one that Jesus loved" which was some dude. And I'm suspecting his wife was like the Michele Bachmann of her day, you know, very reptilian, so I can certainly understand why he would think she was fake and not care to mention her much.

    October 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      jesus' wife was a beard?

      October 1, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • old ben

      Pretty sure. A Leo cause onto that when they asked him to do the dinner-party picture.

      October 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • old ben

      Sorry – should have been: "And Leo picked up on that when they asked him to do the dinner-party picture."

      October 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  10. dawnford2011

    Concrete evidence such as this combined with verbal testimony dating back to the time of Jesus – such as that found in the Gnostic Gospels – will lead humanity to truth. It is up to each of us to let go of indoctrination and allow in the pure peace that will come with this.

    October 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  11. EricB

    Delusion...not to me, to me this is the only book known to man that makes sense, the oldest mordern book in existence

    October 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • EricB

      There is far more evidence of the bibles background and history than any other theory man can muster up. all other concepts of mans appearence makes no scientific sense at all. Without creation, there is no evidence of any explanation, only theory...fiction.

      October 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      how does creation imply the existence of a heaven or a hell?

      October 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  12. EricB

    If the vatican pupils studied the bible, there would be no hesitation on declaring this fiction. As a matter of fact, true faith is a belief in the bible as a whole, not in partial segments to appease mans inherited weakness.

    October 1, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • sam stone

      Accepting the bible as a whole does not indicate true faith. It indicates delusion

      October 1, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Ting

      There's nothing wrong with reading the Bible, but rather than reading only fiction, how about reading a non fiction book about how the Bible was written.

      October 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  13. nojinx

    "Jesus said to them, 'My wife drained me dry in the divorce. Look at what I'm wearing, for Chistsakes."

    October 1, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • nojinx

      "Anyone got thirty pieces of silver they can loan me?"

      October 1, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  14. Mark

    Jesus Christ came down from Heaven to save mankind and bear witness to the Truth! If Our Lord was married he would wanted the world to know, surely let the World know that important fact! I checked out that artifact, that parchment and can tell you, it looks like someone changed some of the letters... you know like a kid in school changing his grade from a F to a A... It's an obvious fake, a bad one as that!!! One more important fact, Jesus always refer to his Church as his Bride, need I say more!!!

    October 1, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • sam stone

      Jesus pi$$ed off the Romans and got whacked. Hardly the first nor the last

      October 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No Sam, He pi$$ed off the Jews. Pilate appeased them. Jesus was innocent

      October 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • James

      I can see the crazy train just left the building. WOW

      October 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Veritas

      Bill, if it was god's plan then there's only one person to blame. Not the jews, not the romans, not judas – god.

      October 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You might call it blame, I call it glory. In either case, you are correct, it belongs to God.

      October 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      In any case, Bill, he pi$$ed someone off and got whacked. If you want to call it glory, have at it

      October 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      sam the praetarian

      October 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • OTOH

      Or it was suicide by centurion. If truly a god, he could have stayed around for a few (hundred) more years and would have made more of an impression, and would perhaps have known how to leave better evidence, instead of this ambiguous trail of breadcrumbs.

      October 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Can you name someone who has made more of an impression on humanity than Jesus?

      October 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  15. Mark

    SHOCKING!!! At least it's unbiased.
    This just in, Romney calls reports that he's out to @#$ the middle class untrue.

    October 1, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  16. Charles

    Of course it is a fake otherwise it undermines this silly association between holy and celebacy, even though the patriachs were all married family men. The notion of a married, family man Jesus is just too dangerous a concept for us to accept.

    October 1, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  17. Smart guy

    Oh, so now suddenly some religious evidence is fake, huh?

    October 1, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      As if the Vatican would admit it in the first place even if it was authentic. LOL. It's like asking a serial killer on trial to be his own jury. Someone should tell the author of this story that we have scientists nowadays to study ancient papyri text. Do people really trust anything the Vatican says anymore? LOL

      October 1, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Johnny

      DeeCee, what is it that you think scientists could tell us? The age of the papyrus? Whether or not the language is consistent with that era?

      What this article fails to mention is the evidence behind the Vatican calling this a fake. Perhaps they have conducted scientific analyses (you may be surprised to discover the Vatican employs scientists), or are relying upon the opinion of outside experts.

      If there were no physical or archaeological reason to doubt the authenticity of this fragment, the next line of argument would clearly be what King herself admitted - this fragment alone tells us nothing about whether or not Jesus was married. Given that even the person who found it admits that the fragment is at best ambiguous, it seems as if there is no reason to attack the authenticity of the fragment (drawing more attention to it) unless there is evidence against it.

      Science always depends on the quality of the evidence presented - and this article actually contains no specific evidence for or against the authenticity of the fragment.

      October 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  18. scotsman

    Um, ok, WHICH experts are the Vatican backing? Karen King, before putting her academic reputation on the line, DID consult experts, all of who advised her that the papyrus appeared to be genuine. Certain physical tests, of the papyrus itself, and the ink, remain to be done, and those could easily prove the papyrus a fake - has the Vatican done those tests? Did you, as a journalist, exercise ANY sort of critical analysis before rubber-stamping the proclamations of a church that doesn't seem to think pedophiliac priests should be kicked out? Does an actual editor even LOOK at this stuff before it gets published???

    October 1, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  19. Reality

    Putting the kibosh/”google” on religion to include Catholicism/ 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. "

    October 1, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Rob-Texas

      You might want to check acheology Reality. There is plenty of it and more being discovered every day.

      October 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the those interested in a religious update:

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. 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 docu-ment. “
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Reed (an archeologist) Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      October 2, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Joey Navis

      hey reality, u r an infidel. please tie ur hands behind ur back and come lay ur head on this rock. details on what is to follow will come shortly.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  20. Amadea

    The Bible prophesies a 'great apostasy' ... a falling-away from belief in God and His Son ... at the endtimes. We're there!

    October 1, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • ChokeArtists

      I couldn't agree more. The end times for religion is here!

      October 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • sam stone

      Thanks for the update, Amadea. Not like the end times have been predicted before this. We will get right on it

      October 1, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • James

      It is about time!

      October 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      The end of religion is a time for celebration.

      October 2, 2012 at 12:10 am |
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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.