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. MrHappy

    Which one of his wives? Nobody knows rally as that whole religion shenanigan is exactly that....a BS Fallacy.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  2. Keith

    Makes sense to me, popular young man with lots of admirers. Married a rich mans daughter who was nice looking. I don’t see why anyone would be surprised about this.

    There are many stories like that in the "Nag Hamaddi Library", the "Gnostic Gospels", and the "Dead Sea Scrolls”. Those texts are just as old as those that the "Christian Bible" are based on and the Catholic Church had their own agenda when they were choosing the books that eventually became the "New Testament"

    October 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • ensense

      Married a rich mans daughter and then lived in penury? You just want to discredit jesus somehow but you are using a sly way to do it. unlike the other atheist who do it frontally.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  3. time

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christian
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, catholicism and church history – but still call yourself a Christian

    October 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Sunflower

      LOVE IT!!! this is the best laugh I've had in weeks..... so sad, but so true....

      October 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • 12345

      Not even funny. Sad, and true.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Jeff

    I read the headline, "Jesus's Wife Movie Delayed," and all I could think of is: How can this movie be delayed when I've already seen it on DVD when it was called "The DaVinci Code?"

    October 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • GRZ

      I think they would make more money if they made it into an MTV reality show.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  5. Ezra

    I liked the part where Jesus's wife gives him crap for not coming home with the bread and fish she send him to get. "Jesus, your a good carpenter , why are you always hanging out with those no account fishermen?"

    October 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  6. slk

    Now.....................why wait?
    There is already a film that put the Muslim world in a spin................................
    So now.............the Christian world.........................................
    What harm could that do..............
    After all, its only science.................no one will get upset........................Right?

    October 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  7. Ezra

    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
    Oh, i see only the ancient mythical stories that the Church elders liked count, huh? Too funny.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  8. Borat


    October 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  9. Sly

    Ok, I believe in all the 'heaven' stories, and I look forward to my 79 virgins when my time has come.
    And ok, maybe the bloody hippie really COULD walk on water.

    But, I'm sorry, not for one minute do I believe that humans planted over 1 million fake dinosaur bones all over the world when dinosaur's didn't ever exist since God made earth in 9000bc.

    Sorry, I just don't think humans had the earth-moving heavy machinery to bury bones sometimes thousands of feet deep.

    And how the heck did they get them deep into the La Brea Tar Pits without falling in themselves?

    Nope, sorry, no God until someone explains the technology behind the fake dinosaur bones. That is a show stopper!

    October 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Sorry to disappoint, but the Bible isn't about dinosaurs. It isn't about dogs and cats, astronomic observations or tectonic plate movement either. If you want a book about those subjects, you need to visit the library. Start in the children's section and work your way up.

      The Bible is about the story of the fall and redemption of man, nothing else. Those that are perfect in their own eyes find the subject difficult to comprehend. Those that know they aren't perfect find great wisdom and divine inspiration in it's pages. The Good Book is inspired by God, preserved and presented to man according to divine providence.

      The wise man discovers much of real value in it. The fool doesn't even know he should look.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Keeping It Real


      The Bible is a book which includes *some* history of primitive Hebrew culture, and *some* good advice for practical, beneficial human behavior, but mostly it is a compilation of ancient Middle Eastern historical fiction, myth, legend, superst.ition and fantasy.

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for any of the supernatural beings and events in that book.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Sly

      Ho ho ho ... anything written about Dinosaur's is only in the Childrens section?

      That's right! There is no proof that Dinosaur's ever existed – they are just a fantasy, and God created Earth in 9000 bc.

      Who masterminded the Great Conspiracy to bury millions of fake dinosaur bones all around the world?

      Don't know, but I'd start by looking at Lance Armstrong – he is good at huge ruse's like that.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Sunflower

      think you need to stay in the choir loft. Or was that allegory for your simple mind?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  10. freshnewblog

    I am a Latter Day Saint. I believe that this is maybe authentic.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Wisdom waits for the experts to evaluate the relic before an opinion is rendered.

      Scoffers are eager to wag their tongue and declare their lack of tolerance to one and all. You can always tell a fool, but you can't tell him much.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • time

      You are admitting that you are a cult member?

      So sad. I guess the fact that we are still believing in the magic man in the sky is even sadder 🙁

      October 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • slk

      uh. oh.....................so........you were in Heaven and came down to Earth to save us like mitt?
      But I thought you were taught that he was the "White Horse Prphecy"............only he can save Earth........right?
      If so..........then the book of Morman is what you follow...........oh dear..........did you know in the Bible, there is a statement......
      that goes something like: if any one adds to or takes away from MY WORD........let them be forever anithim......."damned".
      og goodness......................you dont' fall into this group..................do you?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  11. Dave

    Folks, for 2000+ years the Church has held the history of Jesus captive. Rather than the true Jewish Rabbi descended from the root of Jesse through Mary and Joseph (Matthew and John respectively), they have opted instead for the hallucinations of Saul of Tarsus. This makes the religion, in essense, "Paulanism". History has been so badly ignored and in many cases destroyed so the Church can prevent it from becoming known. Fact is, folks, they found his body in 1982 at Talpiot. There only a 1 in 732,000 chance that it isn't Jesus and his family in that tomb.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Never trust a guy who uses some arbitrary probability to support his assertion.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Dave

      Odds are not arbritary. They are Mathematical.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      1 in 732,000 is completely arbitrary, unless you provide your workings.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Sunflower

      Lot of truth in what you say..... Sad that only minimal amounts of history is taught in school.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  12. rjp34652

    ARTIFACT FORGERY is common, especially among those who obtain their relics from 'collectors' as Karen King has done. Legitimacy of an artifact is normally certified by the provenance associated with the object(s). The item in question has little association with other historical items and until its associations are proven, its source remains in doubt as well as that which is written upon it.

    Either way, what does it prove? If it proves that Jesus was married it adds substance to the historicity of a person who many doubt lived at all. If it doesn't prove Jesus was married, our view of ancient times remains as before. Either way, the church wins.

    On the other hand, there are always those who prove to the world their ignorance by scoffing at whatever conclusions result from this discovery.

    but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft....

    October 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  13. Bob

    How dare you make false statements about the false prophet, Jesus? He walked on water and cured blindness, but he was NOT in women. It's just crazy to think he would be married.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Bobpitt

      If he was smart as we think he was, he just had girlfriends, why to buy the cow if you can get the milk free..!!

      October 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Hey Bob – a few things Jesus didn't cure were stupidity, arrogance and stubbornness.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • OneTruth

      rjp. That is evident from the various churches.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  14. Sergio Aguirre

    If you read the Bible, Jesus does refer to the Church as his "Bride". And by Church he means the believers in Him. To believe is to do what he taught, not say and not do. He states that very clearly. Repent from wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness for what's already been done, but refrain from further mischief. The Bible is a book about the self, the most extraordinary book ever written. A true compass for guidance in our lives. Don't just read it, study it and you will be mesmerized by what will be revealed to you. Seek and you shall find, we are His sheep and He never leaves us, we live Him but we will come back once we understand our sinful and shameful ways. Christ's love and continual blessings.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Bobpitt

      Uncle Joe from West Virginia refer to his mule as his girfriend. he had goats as well...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Jesus did indeed refer to the church as his bride, but that was a spiritual allusion. Our Lord also had physical brothers, but referred to spiritual brothers and sisters too. On the cross, He transferred his physical sonship from his mother to his disciple.

      There is more to Christ than meets the eye.....or the family tree.

      but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Dave

      Faith is a beautiful thing. Jesus says in John "God is Spirit" . When Jesus died at the hands of the Romans he was reburied in the Tomb at Talpiot after a day in the tomb of Joseph of Aramithea. The hope was that he would survive and the ressurrection myths be realized. Sadly, either his wounds or the pain he endured when the Soma wore off were too much for the man and he expired. The myths lived on. Jesus body along with that of his Mother, wife, Son, and a couple of brothers were interred in a royal tomb at Talpiot. That he died and was buried should affect no ones faith in the Spirit of God. Unlike the pagan Romans, Jewish Kings do NOT become Gos when they die..

      October 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  15. Sly

    Where was Jose Christ's wife when he got real stoned on something and ran around with bloody holes in his hands and feet and tried to walk across the ocean.

    I mean, seriously, you have to be real high on something to think you can walk across an ocean. Try it some time, heck, try it in a lake, or even make a puddle in your front yard.

    It's one thing to believe Earth is 9000 years old and that there was a huge conspiracy to bury millions of fake dinosauer bones all over the world, but to not believe in gravity either, now, that takes some real ignorance.

    Oh well – plenty of that out there.

    Now lady, you take care of Jose and make sure he doesn't go eating those crazy mushrooms anymore.

    Seriously, if the dude had a wife, you think she'd let him run around with that scraggly haircut?

    October 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Joepub

      Your comment is the perfect example of ignorant, lazy, uneducated rambling. This is harsh, I know. But here is the problem. You are not familiar enough with the topic to even offer a good argument. If you are going to disagree the subject, then you should be more informed of the subject. Get some facts, then come back and try again.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • ensense

      looks like you are seriously stoned. walk across the ocean?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Sly

      Joepub, you are correct – I know nothing about ol' Jose wallkin' across water, and I have never opened that big ol' book,

      But I did see Jesus Christ Superstar, and I could swear they said he walked across water, and well, folks, you and I know that just isn't really ... well, possible.

      That's cool, y'all should stick to your beliefs – we all have opinions, and obviously we all know there is no such thing a 'right' opinion.

      I am looking forward to heaven though, because there are millions of virgin teen-age girls there, and there ain't no laws!

      (Saw that in Jesus Christ Superstar also – did you check out some of those chicks?)

      October 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  16. steelerguin

    Well if this film ever gets shown, at least we won't have embassies stormed and bombed. Some may not like it but at least they won't react like the "religion of peace."

    October 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. Rufoscoe

    Mrs. God

    October 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  18. Martha

    Something tells me the catholic church has something to do with the delay.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Sunflower

      They certainly delayed the exposure of the dead sea scrolls for a LONG time... Read the history of that!!! They went to great lengths and extremes to suppress that materail. Shameful.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  19. Ace

    Well, i guess this Topic will attract a bunch of Atheists as usual, like Gandhi once said "It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists"

    October 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • OTOH


      Believers do exist.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • irongoat81

      is it the atheist always on defense or is it the religious who have no facts at all just belief?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Ace

      To Irongoat81, Read my quote again, you have your answer.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • rjp34652

      Thanks, ACE. That was cool.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • doesnotmatter

      By Gandhi's own admission, atheists are intelligent. Did he have anything similar to say about the believers.

      October 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  20. idiophobia

    "The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong" Gandhi

    that sounds like a very christian statement and the man wasn't even a christian

    October 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      No, but he was a massive ass-hole who has inexplicably fooled the world into believing he had anything of merit to say.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      "The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong" Gandhi
      that sounds like a very christian statement and the man wasn't even a christian
      No, but he was a massive ass-hole who has inexplicably fooled the world into believing he had anything of merit to say."

      Well, he did say, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your

      October 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Yep, another meaningless soundbite.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:35 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.