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. augustghost

    One day all religions will be dismissed as "Mythology"...much like the Greek myths.......it needs to happen soon

    September 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • You May Be Right, But Then Again....

      There are people who still worship 'gods', including those of Greek mythology and Norse mythology. So good luck with that.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      Religions are hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Jew's, criminal secular s to hind, fool humanity

      September 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Atheists are fleeting as the blink of the eye, whereas, God is eternal.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • WayTooMuch

      Your god is eternally non-existent.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Oh the atheist heathens are spouting lies as usual.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  2. augustghost

    Ooohh what a surprise..the Vatican't is not happy with the truth

    September 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Elena

      how do you know is the truth were you there with Jesus and Magdalena?

      September 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • cincinnatidavid

      Elena, you're right about the truth of course. But then is the Vatican?

      September 28, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • TooMuch

      The Da Vinci files movie is fiction.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  3. Elena

    Its interesting to see people very eager to attack Christianity but they defend Israel right to the holly land based on a supposed promise by SAME GOD you attack here!

    September 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • TooMuch

      True Christians will be back in Israel when Jesus returns. Until then, it's polluted.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  4. Mateo

    And the Bible is fake..

    September 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • TooMuch

      You are referring to the atheist bible.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  5. Nigostoros

    Christianity is an industry – Blind Faith and Trust is the required life line for this machinery. This evil edifice of evangelical Christianity will crash and crumble one day.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • hinduMithraism Christianity baseofhindufilthyracism.

      A source to spread of hinduism, illegality, action's without accountability, Way of hindu's of savior ism, criminals to justify their hinduism.

      September 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  6. gimmishelter

    Come on. Why can't a human being, who has had such an impact on life not know the loving touch of another.

    The happiness, love and forgiveness that joining with another can bring.

    Jesus, like all of us lovers had to know; not only the pain of love but also the glory that their lover brings to them.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • AZLady

      But...the vatican can not allow the posibility that Jesus may have any heirs, cause if one of them is a woman, well.....

      September 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • TooMuch

      AZ, I glad you enjoyed the movie the Da Vinci codes, but, it was labeled fiction.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  7. Mike, Albany

    It doesn't fit with what they want Catholics to believe, so of course, it has to be a fake.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  8. You May Be Right, But Then Again....

    You may be right, there was nothing supernatural that happened with Jesus' crucifixion, but then again ....supernatural events did occur while Christ hung on the cross. And it's stranger than any fiction you would ever read, because in that case, it wasn't fiction. And the Canonical gospels are backed up by other ancient testimonies to what happened. Specific supernatural events are mentioned in the Bible. If one read for 40 years and missed that, maybe you were reading with your 'eyes' closed.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  9. Horrible Penile Gash Like an Infected Split Weiner

    I find this story fascinating althouth it does not hold my interest.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  10. True Story

    Mary Magdalene: Do the nails hurt, my lord?
    Jesus: Not as much as the gonorrhea you gave me, you b!tch!

    September 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Doc Johnson

      I can tell you after many and many years of research of my own, including a number of papers, that there is much that does not get told in popular academia.

      For example, Jesus tells us that his father and mother "have not spaketh a single word in two years plus three. This sounds like a man scorned to me.

      How can we prove marital troubles in the home of Jesus? Reading from Mary (Magdalene), she says, "when Joseph's gaze met mine I felt a burning deep within...." She goes on to discuss Jesus' jealousy and rage.

      Is it possible Joseph never forgave his wife Mary for her affair and Joseph and Jesus were competing for Mary Magdalene’s affection?

      September 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Elena

      Doc please site your sources for the rest of us to read!

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

      A little known fact for you Doc Johnson, all Christians are the brides of Christ and he is the bridegroom. Therefore, Mary Magdalene is no different than any Christian that is the bride of Christ. To comprehend this statement, you need to read the Bible.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  11. Prayers do not work - proven by the Vatican for your enjoyment

    So nobody at the Vatican has ANY CLUE as to whether this is real or a fake and are calling it a fake in a knee-jerk reaction.

    Funny how they know prayers aren't going to work in determining the truth, eh? EH?

    September 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • TooMuch

      All Christians are the brides of Christ.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  12. thegadfly

    Of course it's fake. The fact is that we have little or no direct evidence of Jesus' life. And while I suppose he probable was a real person, we can be most certain that the tales of his exploits as found in the good book (funny name) are about as historically accurate as those about Beowulf.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  13. Elena

    I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
    Max Plank
    (As quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)

    September 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  14. rinsac

    Most of what the church teaches is fake anyway. Made up to control people.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • falcon

      Carl Sagan: "Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth". And we're to believe i n an all loving all-powerful god that listens to our prayers? "Oh, I see that Carl is having a problem today. Let me see what I can do to help". Sure.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • TooMuch

      How are you going to help Sagan today?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  15. You May Be Right, But Then Again....

    I love articles like these. It brings only closer to the fact that it's such a raging debate on if Christ is who he really is and that for which he stands ~ seemingly it goes on and on forever. But in such a way the very 'devil' has to be in the details somewhere.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  16. dragon8me

    I think the Vatican is fake. Nothing but the reminants of the fallen Roman Empire.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  17. The Pope

    Of course it's a fake.....................until it's not. And anyway, Haysus wasn't married. He was always hangin' out ( ;-0 ) with those 12 guys!

    September 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  18. Mennoknight

    The majority of the books of the New Testament were written between 15 and 40 years after Jesus' ministry.

    Letters of Paul written between 15 – 35 years after Jesus
    Mark – 20 years
    Peter's letters – 25 years
    Luke / Acts – 35 year
    Matthew – 40 years

    All this happened while living eye witnesses were around to back up the stories.

    This was written 150 years after the facts. That is a big difference. What it does show was that there was much talk about Jesus in the 2nd Century.

    September 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Loubies

      There are other Gospels that were omitted from the Bible that allude to a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • rad666

      What difference does time make? The Old Testament was not written when it happened. It was made up thousands of years later.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Elena

      The old testament was written thousands of years of after things happened, lol, is one of the most ignorant comments I have ever read about the Bible

      Jesus was not even born when it was writen!

      September 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Before writing was verbal communication.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Writing pre-dates Abraham.

      The bible contains a collection of myths that were wrtten earler in cuniform writing in ancient Mesopotamia.

      The flood myth is one.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    September 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Atheism is not, Holy Father, hot drivelling hindering snatch

      Creepy thrashing nags.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Sean

      Prayer has been proven to have a negative effect, so I agree that prayer changes things. It makes them worse.

      Look up Templeton Prayer Study if you want more information.

      Prayer is an excuse people give when they don't really care enough to offer help, but instead would rather talk to themselves and pretend like it makes a difference.

      September 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Sean, scientist have study the practice of prayer and found that the frontal lobes of nonbelievers are not working.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Kruntz

      Seans last comment indicate his frontal lobes, rear lobes and everything in between are not working

      October 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  20. no friend of vatican

    i normally dont reply but really you will read the tabloids but not the bible MORONS

    September 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Guess What

      I've read the Bible - did so for over 40 years - interesting, but not a shred of evidence for the supernatural.


      September 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Elena

      of course you didn't find supernatural because not even god is supernatural God its natural and cant be found in the Bible only inside us. but that is too profound for shallow minds to understand. would like trying to teach the wave function of a particle to a chimpanzee! Not even atheist understand it either!

      September 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Mike, Albany

      I read it cover to cover. If that's what God is really like, the no thanks. However, for some real entertainment value, try smoking some pot and reading "Revelations".

      September 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • TooMuch

      Guess What. I wouldn't brag about not being able to comprehend what Jesus had written.

      September 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Guess What

      Elena & Too Much,

      Gee, I guess I am real stupid, but at least I don't brag that some fantasy King of the Universe loves me. Shall I PRETEND?

      September 28, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • TooMuch

      He loves you so much, he'll ensure you don't spend eternity with the rest of us that loves him.

      September 28, 2012 at 10:24 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.