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. Good News


    open your eyes and see,

    Jesus was –single, or married does not matter here for now–
    absolutely a real Prophet of GOD,
    and thus

    the Son of Man has already come with the "Clouds of Heaven,"
    in the beginning of this most critical Third and Last DAY (=MILLENNIUM) now, (John 6/40)
    as prophet Jesus thus clearly prophesied here (Mark 13/26-27)!

    holy -19- harvest com


    October 3, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • Peteyroo

      BadNews, you're full of horse feathers my confused friend. There is no God. Jesus was never the son of anyone other than perhaps Joseph–if he existed at all. Prophet–hardly. You mean profit for religious shysters who rake in the bucks from feebl-minded follows.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Tom Tom the Piper's evolved Son

      ^ smile, Jesus loves you

      October 3, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • End Religion

      ^ this I know, for the bible tells me so

      October 6, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  2. Harrry Baxter

    Knee jerk reaction, as usual. Why do they tell their Flock (including me) that Marriage between a Man and Woman is sacred, but then get horrified at the thought that jesus may have been married?

    October 2, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Lara

      I agree! Besides, there are only a handful of people in the whole world who can write Coptic, let alone make a fake papyrus!

      October 3, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  3. niknak

    "Papyrus fragment calls vatican fake."

    October 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  4. Bill Deacon

    The Smithsonian Channel has canceled a planned television show about the fragment citing concerns about the archeological provenance and veracity of the papyrus. Several scholars and scientist have challenged Dr. King and the show will be delayed until more substantive discovery is complete. Seems the Vatican may have gotten it correct.

    October 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • niknak

      No, the vatican just has a lot more money then the Discovery channel, and a lot more power.
      Both of which they do nothing with that even remotely follows jeebus' teachings.
      So much for that aspect of their religion.....

      October 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • billdeacons

      Oh I see so it's a conspiracy

      October 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • niknak

      Yes Deacon blues, it is a conspiracy.
      Just like your fantasy religion fan club.
      Say, how is your league doing?
      Whom did you draft? Still got god as the QB?
      How are his numbers versus Allah's?

      October 3, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      By my league if you mean common decent people who are working to build something valuable for themselves and their families, practicing their faith, paying taxes, not burning buildings or occupying anything, not murdering unborn children or American ambassadors, we're doing well thanks.

      We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Peteyroo

      BillieBob Deacon, you're a fool to believe such nonsense. Do you also believe in unicorns and leprechauns? How about the Tooth Fairy and Tinker Bell? Santa? The only known photo of Jesus of Nazareth shows him astride a unicorn with a leprechaun on his shoulders.

      October 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Tom Tom the Piper's evolved Son

      ^ smile, Jesus loves you.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry Petey but I've been a fool for the world. Now to be called a fool for Christ I gladly accept.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  5. Mark

    I wonder if they used any science to test whether or not it was a fake.

    October 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  6. tj

    Religulous people will believe ANYTHING.

    October 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • RR

      No we don't because we definitely do not believe you.. :>)

      October 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      you don't believe tj because he makes sense. you'll only believe something if its fantastic enough. it needs some unprovable mythic qualities first. it also helps if the unprovable fantastic thing is worded as a circular argument that passes as wisdom to the ignorant.

      October 6, 2012 at 2:23 am |
  7. hello

    Jesus's. The apostrophe only after an s is for plurals, not just any word that ends in an s.

    October 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Athy

      You are absolutely correct, Hello. Any book on writing style will tell you this. This error occurs so often, even in newspapers and magazines by professional writers who should know better, that many people mistakenly believe it is correct.

      October 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  8. Solitairedog

    Um, they declared the fragment to be a forgery, yet they have never examined it? Faith takes the Catholic Church over the edge of reality one more time, eh?

    October 2, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Daniel

      the whole bible is fake.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Earl

    I read a website and it seems we should rethink what we were taught about Jesus as we are about to read what the prophecy states about him in The Bible

    As revealed by Maestro (teacher) Erano Evangelista of: thename.ph

    2 Samuel 7:12-14
    New International Version (NIV)

    12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. WHEN HE DOES WRONG, I WILL PUNISH HIM WITH A ROD WIELDED BY MEN, WITH FLOGGINGS INFLICTED BY HUMAN HANDS

    In the said verses: 2 Samuel 7:12-14 – we can read that God speaks of a coming son of David and not a literal son of God as what the religions preach

    Is it really true that Jesus was a descendant of David?

    …to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.
    The virgin's name was Mary.
    Luke 1:27 (NIV)
    Jesus' true father is Joseph who belongs to the house of David. So if we are to believe the teaching of the religions that Jesus is the “son of God,” then it should be Mary who should belong to the house of David.


    You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
    Luke 1:31 (NIV)

    And who was Jesus' father?

    He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
    Luke 1:32 (NIV)

    "will be called" – As you have read it, Jesus was only a son or a descendant of David not a real"son of God;" he was just a man.

    Is this true –That Jesus is a son of David? In Matthew 1:1

    A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:

    Now we can see that the prophecy in 2 Sam7:12-14 about a coming descendant of David and not a son of God was now fulfilled

    Considering the prophecy in II Samuel 7:12-14 that if the descendant of David commits a wrong or an iniquity he will be punished with the rod of men, Maestro Evangelista says Jesus was also punished by men, what is the proof?

    All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
    Matthew 27:25-26 (NIV)

    He was punished by men, what was his offense?

    The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die,
    because he claimed to be the Son of God."
    John 19:7 (NIV)

    However Jesus was flogged (Matt.27:25-26)
    This is what christianity failed to reveal to mankind – Jesus is in reality –not a genetic son of God but only a descendant of king David. And what’s horrifying here that Jesus was tortured and beaten not for our sins but for his own iniquity.

    May i suggest all read thename.ph to know more.

    October 2, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Tom Tom the Piper's evolved Son

      wow, trollio fa sho. can't believe I wasted my time reading this.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  10. Linda

    Well of course the Vatican would say that, if the fragment is true it would upset a lot of their beliefs.

    October 2, 2012 at 6:54 am |
  11. 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)?



    October 2, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  12. epetedo

    Untill the age of 30, Jesus was just an ordinary, Jewish man. That was why everybody was surprised and skeptical when he started preaching: "Isn't that Jesus, son of Joseph, now claiming to be the Son of God?", etc.

    It must be expected, that he was up until then, a normal, ordinary man: should be married at that age, according to the prevailing traditions.

    Strangely, the Bible is totally silent about this part of Jesus' life.

    October 2, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • Harold

      The Bible does say that when Jesus started his messiah gig, his family thought he had gone crazy and went to get him. Rather strange behavior from people who had done virgin birth and spent three decades hanging out with the son of god.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • epetedo

      @Harold. Meaning that he was just an ordinary man to them; must be quite normal, also with regards to doing what people his age were doing.

      Yes, stranger still, that they seemed to have forgotten he was born of a virgin, predestined to save the world and preach.

      October 2, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • open cinnamon shoe

      The bible actually has a few things included from when He was 12 years old. Maybe read up on it a bit before posting as an authority on the subject.

      October 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    October 2, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Nope



      October 2, 2012 at 4:35 am |
    • nope


      October 2, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • Imagine No Religion

      So, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have!

      I challenge you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50).


      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      October 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Jesus

      You're a proven liar. 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 2, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  14. DWN

    I guess we know who is now officially the Washington Establishment. Not surprising if you know prophecy. The first beast of revelation 13 will get the second beast to do its bidding. Now America is being set up to do the Papacy's bidding in the world, and it will get pretty ugly when the two beast have one mind.

    October 2, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  15. david fernandez

    The papyrus scrap is a fake and is just another thing in the never-ending effort by certain forces who are trying to bring down Jesus Messiah Son of God, as well as the Roman Catholic Church. But, we already know and believe that not even "the gates of hell" will ever prevail against this Church founded on the rock that is St. Peter, even though those forces are trying their damndest by their fakery and on and on....

    October 2, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • sam stone

      Oooohhhh......"certain forces"......sounds cryptic

      October 2, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • sam stone

      If Jesus is the Son of God, how could he be brought down? Is he not also omnipotent? A bit paranoid, are you?

      October 2, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Piry

      David – why it would be so wrong if Jesus have a wife? I wouldnt respect Him less if he would. The Vatican just want to preach whatever is convenience for them, that is why they will continue losing membership around the World. Their philosophies are archaic and outdated. BTW is no outer forces trying to destroy the catholic church; they are doing a great job themselves.

      October 2, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • God hates religion

      Catholic priests are doing that without anyone else's help.

      October 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  16. Ralph N

    "Substantial reasons". Like what. If they're so substantial then share them with us. We're listening. Let's have other experts examine them.

    October 2, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  17. SirD

    hah. the vatican 'would' be the ones to say it's fake... Maybe they should tell us a true story then? I like truth... Don't you guys?

    October 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  18. mevans518

    Hmm... If Jesus were married and she was a disciple then wow wouldn't that put a dent in the Church's campaign for family values. They would have to recognize women as priests and something other than a object that has distinguishable biology. Amen.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things-

    October 1, 2012 at 7:37 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

      October 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      I see you're praying for wealth and naked men again. How's that working out for you?

      October 3, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  20. sammy

    Simply put, it is the fulfillment of the scripture. Luke 2 vs 34 .A sign that shall be spoken against. In Jesus Christ you have eternal life.

    October 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • End Religion

      simply put: http://goo.gl/UxPi

      October 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      watcha waiting for, sammy? jeebus is waiting. a tall building, a speeding bus, an oh-so-available sidearm....you could be kneeling in front of jeebus tonight!

      October 2, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Slammy, there is no eternal life of any kind. When you die you go to where you were before you were born–nowhere.

      October 3, 2012 at 11:06 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.