Documentary about 'Jesus' wife' papyrus delayed
The fragment is written in Coptic, a language used by some early Christians.
October 16th, 2012
12:55 PM ET

Documentary about 'Jesus' wife' papyrus delayed

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN)– If you set your DVR to record the Smithsonian Channel's documentary on the "Jesus Wife" papyrus fragment two weeks ago and it didn't, it wasn't your fault.

Despite the massive publicity the documentary received after the discovery was announced, the Smithsonian Channel has delayed the release of the film about the Coptic fragment with the phrase, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife..." to wait for further testing on the fragment.

"We have been allowed exclusive access to this discovery for months. Our program will take into account the upcoming tests as well as the academic response to the initial announcement," Tom Hayden, general manager of the Smithsonian Channel, said in a statement sent to CNN on Tuesday.

Academics have expressed skepticism about the fragment's authenticity following an announcement about it last month from Harvard professor Karen King.

King has posited in a draft article, tentatively accepted by the Harvard Theological Review, that the papyrus dates  to the fourth century but that it could be a copy of a lost second century text.

5 Questions and answers about Jesus’ 'wife'

The papyrus found its way to King in 2010 from a collector.  She translated the Coptic, an ancient language used by Egyptian Christians, and discovered the phrase that made heads turn around the world.

But the fragment, which is about the size of a business card, also contains other phrases, which have stoked academic skepticism.

Many have noted its striking resemblance to the Gospel of Thomas, an early Gnostic Christian book containing sayings attributed to Jesus that were decided to be non-canonical and are not included in the Bible. Mark Goodacre, an associate professor of religion at Duke University, wrote on his NT Blog that the text on the papyrus was "a patchwork of pieces from the Gospel of Thomas."

That could suggest the piece of papyrus accurately dates back to the fourth century but a modern forger came along and added the text.

Opinion: What fascination with Jesus’ 'wife' tells us

When asked about the progress of the chemical testing of the ink a spokesman for the Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard Theological Review refered back to a statement from last month.

"Karen King's 'marriage fragment' paper, which Harvard Theological Review is planning to publish in its January, 2013, edition - if testing of the ink and other aspects of the fragment are completed in time - will include her responses to the vigorous and appropriate academic debate engendered by discovery of the fragment, as well as her report on the ink analysis, and further examination of the fragment," the statement said.

As for the film, Hayden's statement said the  the delay "will enable us to present a richer and more complete story. We will be announcing a new premiere date in the coming weeks."

The Vatican in late September pushed back on the papyrus, 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 an editorial by the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Coptic • TV

soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. swil anderson

    The whole thing's fiction anyway, so whats the deal?

    October 17, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • Jesus

      I had a wife. Her name was Gertrude. She stopped putting out so I beheaded her (I have that ability). I remarried Tatiana. Now there was a real fox. Of course you won't read any of this in the Babble, but I thought I'd just share.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  2. raj kiran

    I find it quite intriguing that researchers do not hesitate to blaspheme Christianity. These same researchers turn into eunuchs when an opportunity arises to research Mohammed the inventor of the religion of peace.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • Dude

      This is between you and the three Gods (if he does have a wife do they become 4) and you. Please keep us Muslims out it. Everyday Muslims are bombed, attacked, killed, insulted, and mocked buy Christian nations like the USA, and you keeping talking about political correctness. I guess if you were not politically correct, it would be another holocaust. It appears to be part of your culture. PS. Before you tell me to leave your country, I don't live in your country.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @dude, relax. Muslims bomb themselves. Sunnis kill Shiites. Have fun with your imaginary allah.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • spleet

      @Dude – the USA is not a Christian nation!

      October 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  3. CJA

    This paper was "printed" in the 4th century so it is a fake. Sounds reasonable until I say "My copy of the Bible was printed in 1998 so it must be a very obvious fake." The printing date does not matter.

    The bible we have today has been severely edited and many whole "books" removed. This is one of hundreds of books that simply did not survive the editing process.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Biggus Dickus

      It's really a shame that St. Pubert of Greenwich's gospel of Jesus' travels through the bath houses of Castro Street did not make it into the final cut.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  4. Gwen

    Whether the thing is a hoax or not, I never believed that Jesus was not married. To not be would be really abnormal.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Isn't it strange how followers never stop to question Jesus's se xuality? A 33 yr old man that never even mas turbated in his entire life. . . makes you wonder why any mention of his se xuality was completely left out.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • ensense

      If you follow the teaching of christ, then it does not matter if he married, unmarried or even if he was not the son of god. all you need to do to make the world a better place is follow is teaching and not create your own.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jesus

      OK boys, I'll level with you. I was not married. I was gay. I lived with Mom for 30 years, never had a girlfriend, and hung around with these buff guys with long flowing robes. I was the leading rump ranger of my day.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  5. barfly

    was jesus a jim morrison fan ?

    October 17, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • HeavenSent

      How dare you blaspheme with your lake-of-fire comments like that. Burn, baby, burn! Dry bones, uh, something with no water, other strange metaphors that only make sense if you have been doing meth for 36 straight hours like I have.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • sam stone

      No, Jesus was an Iggy Pop fan.

      October 17, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Jesus

      Frankly, I liked the Village People.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  6. barfly

    how do we know which one was the wife ? there is evidence of early forms of role playing

    October 17, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  7. Ed

    He had no wife, that lucky guy! We've never had any mention in all the scriptures about anything along those lines.. It's a hoax.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • wisdom4u2

      Ha-haaa. I know... right?
      Hey, why do men die before their wives? 'Cause they want to. Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Rolph

      Why was Jesus so against divorce? He was never married!

      October 17, 2012 at 1:36 am |
    • ensense

      Rudolph show 1 word of christ which was for or against divorce.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  8. Brian

    Newsflash: Scientists have found an ancient condom in Turin and they think it's the actual condom used by Jesus Christ. The condom of Turin.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • barfly

      used on paul

      October 17, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • The Loyal Order Of The Water Buffalo, Secret Guardians of Jesus' Truth

      IXNAY ON THE ONDOM-CAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They aren't supposed to know . . .

      And don't tell them about Jesus' Holy Depends of Calgary, the last diapies worn by Big J himself on the cross. They are safely hidden in the cave right next to his skeleton, so you know they are safe.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  9. Rick

    Not one person on this article gives a logical explanation as to whether this paper is real or not. Let the scientist do their job and then we will all know. What difference does it make anyway? Jesus Christ preached a way of life for all the world to see as told in the Bible. If you don't like what he had to say, then go somewhere else. The fact that it is the only book that tells a story and includes a history of people for the last 3,000+ years that teaches us how to get along with every other person on this planet gives credence to how much truth there is in that book. If we did half of all the things this book teaches, think what a wonderful planet this would be to live on.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Epidi

      I am not Christian but I agree with your final statement 100%. This is true of nearly all the 'Book' religions – they all have the common messages of peace & how to live a healthy long life in them. People get so hung up on the religious aspect of whatever tome they are reading that they often overlook the common sense and life lesson stories in them. Such stories are teaching tools to pass on from one generation to the next.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • barfly

      yes, we get the hypocrisy

      October 17, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      I think it's really neat how people used to live to be 500-800 yrs old in the past like it says in the bible. (snicker)

      October 17, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • It's the inerrant Bible!

      I like the way 3,000,000 non bacterial land species (6,000,000 individual animals) were carried on a 1,500,000 cubic foot boat. That's 1/4 cubic foot per animal.

      And the way that the eight people on board each fed 4.5 species a second nonstop for forty days. Nonstop, each person, 4.5 species (9 animals) a second.

      And the way that, once they landed, the entire human race came from them, got all over the world and turned into all those different races.

      Definitely an infallible and utterly true story.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • LetsThink123

      Rick, its funny u ask for a logical explanation when the bible is far from logical.
      Something very trivial on the logical front: Plants need the sun to grow (via photosynthesis). Pretty logical and trivial.
      Lets look at what genesis says: On the 3rd day, god was growing plants/grass. And on the 4th day, he created the sun and the stars. How logical is this?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  10. matt houston

    The very same folks who think that Jesus is LITERALLY a physical doorway to heaven are probably the very same people who think Jesus being married or not matters.

    October 17, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Rick

      Only a spiritual door, our physical body will never enter heaven.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • LetsThink123

      Rick, where exactly do u find this spiritual door. Or u r just making it up?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • 12345


      October 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  11. Sofia

    Testing the ink will prove what? That the pigments used where known then, or that there are no modern day pigments involved? Will this actually check the age of the pigment in similar way like carbon dating does? For a knowledgeable faker making ink similar to those used then is not such a big deal, it is not Old Masters painting after all. So, I am kind of sceptical about it.

    October 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Papadopolis

      Actually, unless they thought it through that far, the ink might reveal something. Virtually all commercially purchased inks and paints use chemicals that were not used back then, and even the pigments come from different sources. A wonderful example of this is The Maybrick Diaries hoax, supposedly Jack the Ripper writings, but the iron gall ink – the correct choice – had not aged correctly, and tests showed the presence of a chemical not in ink until the 1970s.

      If the theory in the article is correct, that most of the writing is fourth century but the line was added, then the inks will almost certainly show differences.

      You never know. But if it is forged in its entirety, and the forgers had the sense to make a simple lamp-black ink with distilled water (regular water has chemicals), then it would be hard to tell.

      October 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  12. Reverend Sea Bass

    Scholars know now that Jesus was actually a gay. Turns out his butthole was wider than the Holland Tunnel.

    October 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Atheist all day

      I wish there was a LIKE button for this.. lol

      October 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • === o ===

      Aww. But you know the Holland Tunnel doesn't look as big as it did when I was young.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Jesus

      Ok so I was into being fisted. No need to get personal.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  13. Poltergeist

    Sounds irrelevant, but the shock value should definetly drive the ratings up.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    October 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • matt houston

      I suppose it changes the mind of the person praying...otherwise, it does nothing to change the natural course of things in the universe.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Actually it's a known fact that meditating can affect some parts of the human body because certain parts of the brain are used during meditation and the brain in turn responds by changing how certain systems in the body behave. It's more of a mind thing, as opposed to a "Divine" thing; placebos have a similar effect.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • DAT67

      “Prayer changes things” Why should it? If God knows all, sees all, knows what's in your heart, is omnipotent, etc., etc. then he already knows what you want, think, desire, why and the sincerity of your thoughts. In other words, praying tells God NOTHING he didn't already know. There is no need, or purpose, to pray.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • 12345

      I second what Matt Houston said.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  15. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

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

    Well, perhaps the Vaticanoso was right all along. We'll have to wait and see. At any rate it certainly wasn't a "clumsy" counterfeit.

    Weren't the Gnostic Gospels (and particularly the Gospel of Thomas) an inspiration for Holy Blood, Holy Grail anyway?

    Otherwise ... y – a – w – n.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Yes. Exactly. Even if it's authentic, it's not new information. It does fit into the context of the Coptic Gnostics, very neatly, but it is not new information. The interesting thing is why and when were most of the Gnostic gospels burned, and why were some hidden from the purge/suppression.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  16. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    denier of truth absolute GAWD, Monty Python and the Wife of a Satan.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Harrumph. Either you put the carnal gerbils BACK into your Systematic Theology, or there will be hell to pay on Judgement Day.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • DAT67

      Fluffy, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not happy with you.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  17. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    Popurus, Satan's scrip, denier of truth absolute GAWD, absurdity of Aghori father, dead body eater.

    October 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Glory

      Monty Python??
      What does a British comedy troupe have to do with anything, you silly git?

      October 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      you'll find that some of the more outrageous posters attract mimics, whose purpose is to mock.

      While this behavior is a bit juvenile, the rantings of the original do earn this disrespect.

      October 16, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  18. Amniculi

    They might as well do a docu'mentary about Paul Bunyun's wife. It would be just as factual and just as relevant.

    October 16, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • ME II

      But he doesn't fit with today's ecological mores, being a lumberjack and all. Probably just another liberal conspiracy.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  19. paul alexander


    October 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Reality

    The docu-mentary with or without evidence will be a waste of your time. Why is that?

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Jesus, married or not, 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!!!!

    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,

    October 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • paul alexander


      October 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • ....


      October 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Glory

      Very good post.
      Why people do not dig a little further to learn the Bible's beginnings, (and all of the political machinations of what gospels were/were not included) is beyond me.
      Whether or not Jesus had a wife is not really the issue; exposing the fallacies of the Bible is what is at stake, and the very profitable churches do not want any sort of truth to hinder the vast amounts of wealth that has resulted in their narrow view and control of the masses.

      October 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Give me a .edu link and a peer reviewed paper and we'll talk. Iluvjesus.com will just say the opposite and quote some other bible scholar to support their views.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • van

      @Glory...confusing post. What part of the Bible would lend support to the argument that the "very profitable churches" are approved by God? Wouldn't the Bible, as we know it today, actually argue against "church for profit"? I'm not trying to argue with you (at least not directly)...I'm more curious as to how you think the Bible supports your argument.

      October 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • come on man

      @ Reality
      Where in the world are you getting this information? Do you expect us to take you on your word? Can you show us proof of what you say?
      Them Jesus seminar boys had their mind made up already about Jesus before they investigated the so called evidence...
      I could also can name a bunch of professors and list a website that is in favor of the Jesus as the revealed Son of God, would that convince you.....probably not.....What's the real reason you are opposed to him?

      October 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
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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.