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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. Corey

    Of course it is fake. Jesus is a myth.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  2. Jesus's Actual Last Words from the Cross

    "Dudes! I was just talking sh!t so I could get free meals and mooch off people and not have to actually WORK for a living! I was stoned every day! Give a guy a fricking break here! Cut me down!!!!"

    September 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Mike, Albany

      "Cheer up, Brian. You know what they say?"

      "Some things in life are bad
      they can really make you mad,
      other things just make you swear and curse.
      When you're chewing on life's gristle,
      don't grumble, give a whistle!
      And this'll help things turn out for the best:
      And...always look on the bright side of life....'

      September 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • TooMuch

      The shortest verse in the Bible applies to you.

      John 11:35 Jesus wept.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      If life seems jolly rotten
      There's something you've forgotten
      And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
      When you're feeling in the dumps
      Don't be silly chumps
      Just purse your lips and whistle – that's the thing.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  3. Rick

    Didn't Jesus refer to the church as being the "Bride". And so how much information could a piece of paper 3" long and 1.5" wide reveal? To get the whole picture, we need to find out what subject he was talking about. He almost always talked in parables. Now all of this depends on if this piece of paper is real.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Guess What

      Rick,

      Jesus didn't write a dang word. You are only going by what some first century men *said* that he said and did.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      Fake. Not even a good fake. JMHO.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  4. Lee

    I'm so tired of of the Churh. I could scream. To hell with it.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  5. nojinx

    Can't they just apply transubstantiation and say it becomes true once it is read?

    September 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  6. rhobere

    wait, you're telling me that a piece of paper produced well after jesus' death wasn't speaking of true events? Its funny because that's the same stance I've been taking over the Bible for quite a while.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  7. News Flash for Christians!!

    Uh........................nevermind that Jesus was quite obviously off his flippin rocker.....
    /
    there was absolutely NOTHING original about any of the good things he is said to have said..........
    /
    there is PLENTY that's morally repulsive and..........well............ "evil" about much of what he's said to have said.............
    /
    Um.........ever consider growing up as a human being?
    ever think about being yourself,
    standing on the strength of your own conscience?
    instead of cravenly bowing down to the ludicrous ravings of a long-dead madman?
    /
    crazy idea, huh......................?

    September 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • TooMuch

      I suppose being a moron is acceptable to you?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  8. Jay Bird

    Comes right down that Archeology is going to continue to find concrete proof that Jesus was only an ordinary man, that was married and had children and most importantly that Christianity really did not get it start until 191 AD when there is now pretty much proof that the Gospels were written based on folklore. The Catholic Church cannot come clean, else risk the loss of Billion of their Flock suddenlink not supporting their cause. I am very much a Pagan. Religion is man's idea that there must be something else beyond life. In my opinion, we are just another Animal on this Rock called earth. Maybe not even the most intelligent at that. If we are so superior, why is it we have no way to live in the medium that covers 68% of the planet or even leave this rock.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  9. moonbogg

    none of the other garbage they found proved he rose from the dead either.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  10. brown

    A wife? The Vatican only support relationships with little boys! Screw the Church!

    September 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  11. SheilaKA

    Even if the fragment dates to the appropriate time, it STILL doesn't really tell us anything. It's not like they had punctuation back then. You could interpret the words in a number of ways.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  12. Gerry Daley

    Keep in mind that like most of Christianity, the Vatican's reasoning is always circular. They decide what is true in advance and then gather their "facts" to prove it – and discard anything that contradicts their beliefs. It's about power...not the love of God or anything as high-minded as that.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • tom118

      Of course the Vatican says it's a fake. They would never contravene catholic dogma by affirming the concept of a married Jesus. We can only hope that someday the church will reveal the contents of the Gospel Accoding To Jesus Christ, which they have possessed since the '30's.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  13. Seth Hill

    Jesus loved one of his disciples, who was called "the beloved disciple." Of course Jesus loved all his disciples as Christ loves the Church, so he must have had a different, stronger love for this one disciple. Is it possible that Jesus was ...

    September 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • nojinx

      a poly?

      September 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  14. Tensai13

    Mary probably was a young unwed teenage mum when she realized she was pregnant. In those times, in that culture, a certain death sentence. Who wouldn't in desperation, concoct a fabricated story of a "miracle birth". The lies of the Catholic Church are a bottomless pit of black sin. Jesus was almost certainly married to Mary Magdalene or at the least she was his woman – and that would be a good thing!

    September 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  15. History Bear

    The Vatican considers anything that may contradict it a fake. Pretty much like their entire religion, made up on hearsay and crackpot writings bolstered by political intrigue and bribery. The piece is too small and says to little to be earth shaking even if it's real.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  16. Hugh Mann

    They know it's a fake because they have the originals hidden away

    September 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  17. caesarbc

    I can't tell if it was a fake or not...

    but if it simply had that extra piece with a few more sentences... then maybe.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  18. svann

    A good journalist would have included their reasoning for saying it was fake, or at least said that they would not say.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  19. SixDegrees

    “Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit”

    OK. Would it be too much trouble to, you know, lay out just a few of those substantial reasons so we can at least hear what they are?

    September 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  20. atroy

    Of course it's a fake; everyone know Jesus had twelve husbands.

    September 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • nojinx

      They even applied to their U. of Jew to form the Alpha Omega fraternity.

      It is not surprising Jesus had a wife. All the girls thought he walked on water.

      September 28, 2012 at 6:50 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.