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. LouAZ

    "Substantial reasons" ? Ha ! Ha ! Ha !
    The vatican can't tell you what they are because their power is derived from their followers NEVER questioning anything.
    Besides they have already put forth their orgastic menage a trois with the father, son, and ghostie thingie in a circle cluster.
    There are still a bunch of Don't Ask Don't Tell followers of the world's oldest and largest pedophilia organization.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  2. Jezuzwho?

    It is sad that the "Church" refuses to acknowledge any thing new or different. So much has been hidden over the years. Think about it – wouldnt it be nice to have real proof that our "religious" figures really existed? Any shred of proof which may show these figures to be real and flawed would be a true blessing. To know for sure that what is preached is real and not made up by some king or emperor for personal gain – which is all we have if you look close enough. A proven religion would bless and calm all of us. I so want to believe but no one can or is allowed to proof it for us.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  3. JeffinIL

    And she asketh him, "Dear, doth this cross maketh my backside looketh disproportionately large?"

    Jesus wept.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Pete

      Jesus spoke old-english?

      September 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Jezuzwho?

      Take out the trash and the left over lumber scraps. Your mother is showing up for dinner again. She better not bring those three hobos along again.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • JeffinIL

      All through the King James version.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  4. Renchuck

    Wasn't the Bible written 400 years after the death of Jesus? Who's to say that the writtings are real?

    September 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      It was not invented but truth was corrupted over 400 years.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Mama Madonna

      thats the sad part. emperor constantine supposedly rewrote it to match hisown needs and dumped over half the scriptures. wouldnt be surprised if the other books added a wife and a bunch of kids for JayZoo

      September 28, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  5. Lizzie Smith

    Two points:
    1 – The newspaper is NOT an official pronouncement of the Vatican. At its best, t should reflect Vatican teachings accurately. At its worst, it gets that wrong or states things ambiguously. Always take such with a grain iof salt.

    2 – Jesus has a wife!
    It is the Church.

    This is spelled out clearly in the bible. This is a nice summary:

    September 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • LouAZ

      Please give ANY other source from the time of christ that even mentions him. Thx, Lou.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Madonna Hoebama

      Try to imagine writing something about George Washington accurately today about what he said if there were no records. It would be ad-libbed. Had to be cause you have a three hundred year lapse in time. Any bible you read is written by the atheist king constantine of turkey. you are reading best guesses and the other half of the new testament was tossed. why would a king say ignore the old testament if not for personal gain. keep thine eyes open my child and dont bend down for the soap for thee shall be shafted

      September 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Lizzie Dizzie Smith: Is the buybull your only evidence? Could you point us to a site that does not reference the buybull to prove your claims please?

      September 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Rick Shultz

      Well Lizzie, I can give you a couple of different sources other than the Bible that you can research. The writings of Flavious Josephus who was a jewish historian who we know lived in the first century A.D. mention Jesus several times as do the the
      writings Tacitus who was also a historian. These make it limpidly clear that Jesus was a real person. As to His Divinity, you
      must decide for yourself if you believe in it or not.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  6. hindu source of hindufilthyracism

    Word Puke ism is based on Latin word Puki, Pe or Pa, Te, or Ta, meaning from stomach and throat base word for Sick in English, Upchuck, blowing chunks or spewing, meaning, worshiping at the porcelain thrown or a sweaty 180 filthy, infection of puke absolute, such as flu, or Food poisoning, in disregard diarrhea or Montezuma’s revenge, 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 smoked too much Ganzza, same as in barfing, denier it doesn’t work, word projectile vomiting ism is based on Latin word vomi, icky, smelly, horrible, icky, to be in a pool of sick and sickos, to be dumber than the fluids leaking from your ravished body to both of them, watery eyes, a noun in missing work, puke in your nose, way of making you even sicker, as in word “ralph”, a self-violating or a ha.panese p.o.r.n.o, otherwise known as a freak ism, a sadist. Puking is not an accident but a way to clear the crud from your mutilated absurd ism digestive system, defiance to the Lysol and filthy towels you will use.

    Word Stan ism is based on Latin word Satan, Se or Sa, Ten, or Tan, meaning land of devils.

    Paki-stan, is a land of Puking-Satans.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Islam source of most pain and misery in the world today

      DO go fuck yourself wog. If you can't then die.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  7. Mark Silvers

    Anything that goes against the Church's Dogma must be a fake. Deny what you don't understand thus saith the Church.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Madonna Hoebama

      amen and pass the bingo cards and dont let the boys alone with the fathers – they wear not underwear under those cloaks cause JayZoo was the same. Accept him married so we can have normal priests who like girls not boys.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  8. A Christian

    I wouldn't expect anything different from the Vatican.

    I was taught (by the Catholic church) that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human. Why is it so controversial that he may have acted like a human man and married? Priests were allowed to marry until the Catholic church worried about Church property being left to heirs.

    Would it be possible to date the fragement without destroying it?

    September 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Dave

      It wouldn't matter. After finally allowing scientists to carbon date the shroud of Turan, it was said to only be hundreds of years old. Of course this goes against there fantasy that it is the actually the cloth wrapped around Jesus's body, the science was then dismissed as flawed and unreliable.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • I wonder

      A Christian,

      It has been given an estimated date of sometime in the early 2nd century... (that's like 80 – 100+ years after the alleged death of the alleged Jesus) for what that's worth. It's just another yokel (like the rest of the NT writers), who was adding his 2 cents or some hearsay to the rest of the stories.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  9. orion7x

    Another organization you cannot trust. Right or wrong, who knows. These guys are manipulators of information to keep power. They need to work on their integrity.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Dave

    Just one more contradictions of the bible. If it doesn't fit with their agenda, change it!

    September 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  11. JD

    Ancient history supports the idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. He was a Jew and it would be considered normal for a Jewish man to marry. The first Roman Catholic Pope was of the same blood line as Mary, mother of Jesus. He came up with the 'virgin birth' idea so he could get others to consider him infallible since he was of the same line. Popes have been considered infallible by Catholics ever since because of man's stupidity to believe everything they are told without researching.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • ajk68

      You have no evidence of this.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Actually, Papal Infallibility is relatively modern as doctrine, about the late 19th century. While it was a belief held by many, as it wasn't doctrine it wasn't a required belief for Catholics, and many Catholic theologians were against the concept.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Shell Hoebama

      To not marry would have made him an outcast. Thats why the church turned Mary into a "ho" as to discredit her. If not, then women would have been treated better by the church. Shame on them for being so mean and selfish.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  12. Reality

    The RCC is basically fake so what else is new. – only for the new members of this blog:

    To wit:

    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, 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!!!!

    September 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's hard enough to make any positive assertions about Jesus. Why make a claim that he was illiterate?

      September 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Hebrew word used is oot, it does not mean illiterate but, one without knowledge of truth absolute, All Navi were oot, meaning they had no prior knowledge of truth absolute and they all were guided by spirit of truth absolute, messenger of truth absolute, GOD. Not literate. Only one illiterate is you, spewing your hinduism, absurdity like an illiterate. Same word is used in German language on letter A as 2 dot's.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Islam source of most pain and misery in the world today

      DO fuck off you filthy wog.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Reality

      The illiteracy of the simple preacher man aka Jesus, as per some contemporary experts:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography, p. 99,

      "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate m–amzer (pp. 98-102) in his claim to be the Lord's anointed".

      Note: Luke 4: 16 is a single attestation. No where else in the NT does it say Jesus could read thereby making said passage historically unreliable. (Luke 4:16-24) has been compared to a number of other passage and found to be equivalent with the exception of Luke 4: 16 which is the only passage in the list of equivalents that mentions reading:

      http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=022_Prophets_Own_Country (leave out the hyphen in "t-itle" if you access the reference)

      GThom. 31 & P. Oxy. 1.31
      (2) Mark 6:1-6a = Matt 13:53-58
      (3) Luke 4:16-24
      (4) John 4:44

      Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was illiterate coming from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist. e.g. The Excavation of Jesus (with Professor Reed), pp 30-31..

      The question of Jesus's literacy has also been much discussed by the Jesus Seminar and others and they note that references in the Gospels to Jesus reading and writing may well be fictions.

      The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.

      Luke 2: 41-52, the twelve year old Jesus in the temple- As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 275, " the episode is unhistorical" (again, a single attestaion). See also http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=433_Jesus_at_Twelve

      It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

      Of course, Muslims believe that Mohammed was also illiterate. This way, they can claim that the only way he could have received the "angelic", koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic domination of the globe by any means, was orally since he could not read or write.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  13. Rational Libertarian

    They were hardly going to take any other standpoint. It would destroy Christianity.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  14. miketofdal

    "The paper is generally thought to reflect the views of Vatican officials." In America, we call that a "trade rag."

    September 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  15. Doc Johnson

    In the Jesus Gospel he discusses long journeys east of the desert where, "....there I encountered great wisdom and peace among the monks. They removed the sand from my sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"

    He goes on to say that, "...we meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."

    He brought these teachings to his 12 plus Mary and his parents saying, "...know me and know the many lives of the snake, the lizard, and the beasts of all previous lives. Mine is the journey of a God. Perfection can be found through self-sacrifice."

    This is well doc.u.mented but sadly, few too people understand that Jesus was no more a rabbi than me.

    He was a monk, and according to Timothy, an enthusiastic nudist. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic."

    September 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Reality

      The Timothy epistles, as per many contemporary NT scholars, were not written by Paul therefore are not "divinely inspired".

      – from Father Raymond Brown's epic NT reference book.

      Excerpts: The First Letter to Ti-mothy

      p. 654, 80-90% of the critical scholars believe the letter was written by a pseudo Paul toward the end of the first century, early second century.

      "Authenticity – Probably written by a disciple of Paul or a sympathetic commentator on the Pauline heritage several decades after the apostle's death.

      p. 639 ditto for T-itus

      See also Professor JD Crossan's conclusions in his book (with Professor Jonathan Reed), In Search of Paul, about Timothy and T-itus. (Same conclusions as Father Brown).

      See also Professor Bruce Chilton's book, Rabbi Paul.
      And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Epistle_to_Timothy#The_challenge_to_Pauline_authorship

      September 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • dickless cheney

      The theory is that JayZoo visitied India and that he is in fact the Buddha of the west and had five wives. To think that Chritstianity and Judism and Buddhism are all the same roots. We must then join forces and gang up on the notoroious towel headed gang of goat bangers.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  16. GodFreeNow

    Listen to the Vatican.... They know "fake". They've been peddling it for almost 2k years.

    September 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  17. Bootyfunk

    jesus was a fake? i knew it. just like hercules, a myth. both the son of an angry sky god that threw lightning bolts. don't you just love a good fairy tale?

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

      It doesnt say Jesus was a fake, the article says the piece of paper is a fake.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      A little defensive there Christine? No worries little one, we understand how children defend their imaginary friends...go ask Mommy for a cookie and calm down!

      September 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • dickless cheney

      and no easter bunny ? whaaaaaaa. always confused cause rabbits dont lay egs. what about santy claws? loved when he came into my room and fondled my genitals each xmas. was he a priest?

      September 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  18. David

    I guess when they saw the image on the internet, they captured their computer, threw it in a lake and they waited to see if it sunk. It did! Proof it's a fake!

    September 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • fekt

      that only works on witches. something jesus and his 12 disciples much to the dismay of the poor persecuted wiccans fits the definition of. so maybe it might have a little credence.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  19. charmed

    Gee, what a surprise, the Vatican is saying something that goes against it's version of history is a fraud...who'd of thunk it? Too bad, I'd have liked the good teacher more if he'd been married – especially since he most likely would have married Mary Magdalene, rebel that he was 😉

    September 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  20. Mark

    The whole thing is so ridiculous to begin with. The only reason this thing has even gotten any publicity is because it's such a hot topic these days with half the world excited to accept any evidence that the bible is a manmade piece of fiction and the other half trying desperately to keep their religion alive in hard times.
    It doesn't matter what this one tiny piece of garbage fragment says. There's an overwhelming supply of evidence that already shows that Jesus was a living man who was not married and thought to be the messiah by many people at the time. The bible has shown itself to be very historically accurate. Aside from that anyone can write anything. In fact most of the misinformation about Jesus was started by the church soon after Jesus death so why bother assuming this text has any merit?
    Also, in the bible Jesus often used the terms bride and bridegroom when speaking metaphorically about his position and the relationships between him and God and his followers etc. These are concepts that people today still have a hard time grasping so why assume whoever wrote this grasped anything?

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

      Pretty old book, hard to verify any of that.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Also, in the bible Jesus often used the terms bride and bridegroom when speaking metaphorically about his position and the relationships between him and God and his followers etc. These are concepts that people today still have a hard time grasping so why assume whoever wrote this grasped anything?"

      because the rest of the fragment talks about someone called mary, his wife, the other disciples saying she isnt worthy and jesus saying she will be a disciple and will dwell with her.

      September 28, 2012 at 5:36 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.