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
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(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. palintwit

    White southern evangelical christians are no different than the Taliban. One group worships Honey Boo Boo and the other group worships a pedophile prophet. Same same.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  2. bill

    This is just another group and/or movement trying to discredit, mislead and confuse Christianity....much like the GOP/Tea Party.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  3. carolae

    That is just what it is, a "forgery" of some kind. There is no mention in any of the Gospels no matter what version bible you have. It may have been written by someone out of hate for Jesus. It's a good move on the Smithsonian's part to stop this showing. There is no logical reason that I can think of to even show it in the first place other than to create doubt in Christian's minds (which would never happen anyway) or to just be controversial.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. bob

    People get in such a fuss about fairy tales, time would be better spent on real things

    October 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • TTT

      Yet your in here commenting on these stories 8 times per story. So tell me bob what are these real things you speak of?

      October 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      One of the "real things" you should spend time on, TTTubby, is the difference between "your" and "you're." Because not knowing that difference makes you look like the utter knucklehead you are.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  5. OgLikeRock

    Rock remind Og that there still no objective evidence this person ever actually existed, and considering how much research has gone into it you'd think there would have been something found, but no evidence. Just writings started by sociopath paul, the murdering saul, 40 years later when he needed a new income. Superst ition is superst ition. Rock not superst itious. Rock smart. Og like rock. Superst itionistas dumber than rock. hmmmmmm

    October 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  6. Dr Eric

    Oh...and did I mention that "St. John's Predictions" (from the original version of Revalation) has been proven-scientifically too...and that "The King James Bible Commission" interpretation thereof proven to be wrong...."meron" meaning "front leg", not "thigh" as was "added by the KJB Commission", along with other aspects of the book that've been censored (except our Unification Science Upgraded Version...or "Platinum Standard Version") and all counterfeits are 3X+ the crime and debt production of proper function...."TRIPLE DOWN".....as well as the "greater life and greater death" (Unification Science Discoveries) "he" predicted would occur....RCCFM: Always(c): Dr. Eric DrEricShow@Gmail.com you can see pictures of "the real thing" at http://www.Myspace.com/LovedocUSA, if they haven't been censored...and they're in the book's appendix, if they have.....along with the "9+ Unification Science Upgrades The Deficit CANNOT Be Eliminated Without".......was Billy Graham speaking too soon?? We'll see...

    October 19, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • YoozYerBrain

      OMG- really "Dr" eric? Micro analysis of a fantasy is still micro analysis of a fantasy. You guys are ri dic u lous! Again, you argue over whether his left-behind handkerchief was red or yellow when Bilbo ran out of Bag End, but you also argue over whose interpretation of the sentence "Bilbo ran out of Bag End so fast he forgot his handkerchief" is the correct one and what the meaning of the word "handkerchief" is...ridiculous! Anti-dem cratic, un-American....YoozYerBrain please!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Dr Eric

      Yea "comrade squirrel", as soon as our grand juries are retored and the deficit eliminated, you'll see why those "extra testosterone dosages" were "prohibited" thereby....and cost you alot more than the immediate costs......a trillion a count......and why your mother told you about "if you don't have anything nice to say....."....RCCFM: Always(c): Dr. Eric DrEricShow@Gmail.com...as well as how the "Zoological Brain evolution or development" (the "real science") applies to your situation....what's made you a "squirrel"....

      October 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  7. Dr Eric

    And soon they'll report on the Unification Science applications to every sacred text,,,after tiring of "Tripling Down The Economy and Crime Rates", hopefully........an old research-finding......and if they also include our "Will-iams" materials, it'll probably even be interesting.........RCCFM: Always(c): Dr. Eric DrericShow@Gmail.com Almost worth "Tripling Down" (as they prove, prebonderably, Christ said to St. Peter in the "original"), they could, of course "do it right" (without copyrights violations and program-fraud in lableing) and avoid the war-making-consequences, but, maybe that's "missing the point".....that's http://www.ReadyforYourCoronation.Blogspot.com if/when you get it figured out, fellas....

    October 19, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  8. Trishma

    As a believer in Jesus it is part of our belief system that Eve and Adam were the first to enter into a marital relationship which was called by the Scripture as "original sin". The operative word being "sin". Jesus was born in an immaculate conception because He could not be a part of "sin". He was a man while here on earth, yes with normal needs and probably desires but His sefl discipline prevented Him to sin in any way. That is part of the salvation process, that He was able with His discipline to conquer mankind's weakness and deliver the believer into the saving grace that we are promised. Sound like a barrell of nothing? Try it! you might like it! Our God and a living Trinity is better than sliced bread and the proverbial mouse trap!

    October 19, 2012 at 3:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Clsoe Trish. Original sin has nothing to do with marriage or anything like it. The original sin is disobedience.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  9. GO_GOP

    Seek Jesus and be saved. Remember he died for our sins.

    October 19, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • NickZadick

      Says your big book of fairy tales!

      October 19, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Dave

      Actually he died fomenting Nazorean revolt. The Romans never crucified ANYONE for any reason other than that.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  10. Jackie

    Jesus was married to the church was not married to a woman!

    October 19, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  11. Cynicrat

    Time to vote for Obama again. This is not a hard question, people. Romney is a joke.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • notraitors

      Huh??? Where does it mention Obama or Romney in the story. Stay on topic, troll

      October 19, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  12. Noel

    Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children and grandchildren. There has been much information hidden from people on Earth.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  13. JonfromLI

    Do they have to come up with this now? Man.......The Jets have a tough schedule ahead of them and the Almighty King of their "pound and ground" play option, Tim Tebow, really needs to keep focused.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  14. Sonya

    I am a Roman Catholic and attended Catholic school my entire life. I do believe in my faith; however, I do not agree with many of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. I also do believe that Jesus had married and had children of His own. Even those that are not Christian know and believe that Jesus lived. The question for them is whether or not he is the Son of God. Jesus was sent to Earth in the form of man and had had all of the needs, wants and desires of a normal man. Wanting to be with a woman is one of those wants and needs for a human being. I do not know why the Church has always wanted to keep these facts out of the Bible and history. It makes no sense to me. I suppose it would change the whole poverty, chasity and obedience thing. Hey priests and bishops and the pop himself certainly are not poor so they are not abiding by the poverty thing. Why is it that they cannot marry? I just don't get it.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Go to R.C.I.A.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Reality

      A prayer just for Sonya:

      The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (References used are available upon request.)

      October 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Mike in NYC

      As a Roman Catholic myself Sonya I must say – you're "belief" in the human life of Jesus (wife, children, etc), kind of negates that whoooole ..... Devine .... thing. Don'tcha think?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • TC

      "Mike in NYC – As a Roman Catholic myself Sonya I must say – you're "belief" in the human life of Jesus (wife, children, etc), kind of negates that whoooole ..... Devine .... thing. Don'tcha think?"

      Why? Wasn't Jesus supposed to both fully devine and fully human? Wasn't that the whole point of His existacne on earth?

      October 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  15. dave

    ALL religions are hocus pocus mumbo jumbo garbage, and anyone that believes in any of it is a fool.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Ned

      I have a book that has withstood the test of time that tells me otherwise. What do you have?

      October 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Huebert


      The Odyssey has stood the test of time. Does that mean that it is true as well?

      October 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Ned, the bible has most certainly not withstood the tet of time. You cant get throught the first page without running into errors. God makes night and day. Then he makes the sun (which is why you have night and day). The bible continually gets chipped away at by science. Its only a matter of TIME before everybody realizes its fiction.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      "...a book that has withstood the test of time"


      Such as:
      - The Earth is flat
      - Bats are birds
      - Pi is 3
      - Hares chew their cud
      - Plants survived without sunlight for ??? "days"
      - Hail and snow are kept in storehouses in the sky
      - An unfaithful wife's thigh rots when she drinks some magic water
      - A spraying and anointing with dove's blood cures leprosy
      - 9,000 magic fishes with nary a relic nor souvenir fish bone
      - Zombies running through the streets of Jerusalem

      Truths, tested by time, like that, huh?

      October 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Whateva

      And still they miss the mark,
      Keep super imposing the writings of man with the wisdom of God and you will never comprehend the structure of creation or the reason it is. I have no doubt that when you are corrected it shall not be so much of a learning experience as it will be a epiphany of shear terror. I salute all your false religions and your self denoted ignorance. As they are the same in the proper light and that my good fellows is the reason that your ideals fail to address the real problems that your species faces.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Mike in NYC

      Ya know Frayed Knot .... I've actuallyl READ the Bible (several times) and I don't recall EVER having seen anywhere in there that it says anything about:

      – The Earth is flat
      – Bats are birds
      – Pi is 3
      – Hares chew their cud
      – Plants survived without sunlight
      – Hail and snow are kept in storehouses in the sky
      – Zombies running through the streets of Jerusalem

      If you could provide specific verses ... that might help you not sound so pompous.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Try reading the Evidence That Demands A Verdict series – and see if you can refute them.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Sorry ReligionIsBS, but every time the Bible and science have disagreed, and definitive proof is later found, the Bible has been correct every time.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Mike in NYC,

      Here ya' go:

      – The Earth is flat - Proverbs 8:27- Isaiah 40:22- and others
      – Bats are birds - Leviticus 11:13, & 19
      – Pi is 3 - 1 Kings 7:23
      – Hares chew their cud - Leviticus 11:5 & 6
      – Plants survived without sunlight - Genesis 1
      – Hail and snow are kept in storehouses in the sky - Job 38:22
      – Zombies running through the streets of Jerusalem - Matthew 27:52-53

      October 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      The Truth, I challenge you to name even one instance of that ever happening. Thats what I thought. Keep lying for jesus, buddy!

      October 19, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • notraitors

      Hey Heub, if you think so little of Christianity and monotheism, what are you doing on this blog. Go find your ape-buddies Anvil and Primewonk and spew your humanist garbage somewhere else

      October 19, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • NickZadick

      @notraitors – So....humanist means an intelligent scientific sane person that doesn't believe in ridiculous bronze age myths and fairy tales? ...didn't know that! to answer your question... We are trying to wake you up from your brainwashing... we refuse to accept that most people of this planet are so backwards to still believe in the advice of 2000 year old dead strangers.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • bob

      "I have a book that has withstood the test of time that tells me otherwise"

      thats a joke, maybe its the story about a giant boat where 8 people fed 6 million animals, or maybe the real test of time is proven when the bible tells how the earth is flat and hell is underground and heaven is above the clouds. no wait i got it its when it says adam and eves kids screwed each other to populate the earth. and on and on

      October 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hyraxes are rodents which have complex, multi-chambered stomachs that allow symbiotic bacteria to break down plant materials. Their ability to digest fiber is similar to that of ungulates. Their mandibular motions are often described as chewing cud, although there is no evidence this behavior is connected to the regurgitation of stomach contents. This behavior is referred to in a passage in the Bible (Leviticus 11:5) which describes hyraxes as chewing the cud.

      Now why would you deliberately misrepresent the intention of the Scripture just to make your point? Do you really think a hyrax is a hare? Shall I post the one from Kings where the description of the sea is "circular in shape" and from which you propose the Bible tells us Pi=3? Are you really telling us that for you "circular in shape" means a geometric circle? No wonder you are confused.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bill, why do you have to post spurious "research" without citing sources to prove your points?

      October 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Bill Deacon,

      The assertion was made that the Bible has "withstood the test of time and truth".

      - Coneys, hares and hyraxes do not chew their cuds. Regardless of whether this was just an old Hebrew method of deciding what to eat dependent on observation; so the test of time and truth does not hold up.

      - Using the measurements given in the Bible, pi = 3. Close, sure, but science and technology would never have made it to where it is now by using pi=3; so the test of time and truth does not hold up.

      October 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  16. notraitors

    Hey, I wonder if Christians who are offended by this will go out and riot and burn buildings down the way the Muslims do everytime they think Mohammed has been insulted

    October 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      They already stopped the film and are trying to get their hands on the physical evidence and burn it. So, of course they will riot and burn stuff.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Crusading is so 13th century. If Christians want to persecute somebody they hate, they do it within the legal system these days. Like making sure gay marriage doesnt cause the devil to conquor us.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Trent

      Where they do that at? Any follower of Jesus Christ does not act in that manner! And if you truly understood the teachings of Christ, you yourself would be a Christian-if any ounce of love exists in your heart.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • no non-sense

      No, because christians do not even know who they are worshipping, GOD or Jesus. They are clueless and are following a blind lie. Why do you think the Vatican pushed back? It was because the council of nicea fabricated a lie and sold it as the truth! The christians are lost and confused and they will not believe unless Jesus told them he was not GOD and he had a wife! The biggest fib is that of christanity because Jesus said he did not come to change the law of Moses and he was a mortal.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  17. Phllyphan

    It would be very unusual for a Jewish man in Jesus' era to be unmarried. I believe Mary Magdelene was his wife and the catholic church subverted this info. to keep women down. The catholic church and islam have a lot in common on this issue.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Me

      Sure, except for the fact that in the Church the most revered human in all of history is a woman – Mary.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  18. lindaluttrell

    Again, I'm still failing to understand why this is such a big deal if Jesus was married...how does his marital status truly affect the doctrines that so many believe. Religions stress the beauty of family and yet try so hard to deny this one basic thing to a man whom they claim to love so much!

    October 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " why this is such a big deal if Jesus was married" It means He wasn't gay as we've always assumed. It would be the end of Christianity.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  19. NoTheism

    It is very reasonable to think that Jesus could have been married, but many (such as the Catholic Church), simply don't want it to be so.
    The Catholic Church, apparently, already determined this papyrus to be a fake. The question is, why should anyone believe them? Because popes are infallible, thus their doctrines are too?
    Religious people are hilarious.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • eric calderone

      No, NoTheism, you are the one who is hilarious. The Church from the earliest of times has taught that Jesus was not married. And there has never been substantial evidence counter to this teaching.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  20. Reality

    With or without a married Jesus:

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    October 17, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • NoTheism


      October 18, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • rich

      Yes you should believe – but here is how: forget the magic hocus pocus stuff that scientific thinking makes impossible for us to believe. I allow myself to simply see it as this: "God" is the good to which humans are capable, at their best, to rise. Heaven is the peace we attain from doing right (behaving like Jesus is the best model for human behavior I have seen, and when I try my best to follow that model, I feel my best and most joyous). Life ever lasting need not be heaven or spirit or soul per se. Just being remembered and having influence on future generations through interactions you engage in while alive is a way of living ever after...

      October 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • come on man

      Do you believe in Truth?....Do you believe in consciousness?.....Do you believe in energy?....tell me..... where do they reside? What do they look like? How much do they weigh? What shape do they hold? Can you hold it in your hand? What do they smell like?
      Can these things be proven by empirical means?

      October 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Reality

      What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

      1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

      2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

      3. One wayward rock/comet and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

      4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

      5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

      6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

      7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

      Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

      October 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Reality

      Before Jesus and the Jewish version of the Ten Commandments:

      Many OT, NT and koran thu-mpers are actually thu-mping the rules and codes of the ancients like King Hammurabi and the Egyptians who wrote the Book of the Dead and who did NOT need revelations from angels or mountain voices to develop needed rules of conduct for us h-o-minids.

      "Hail to thee, great God, Lord of the Two Truths. I have come unto thee, my Lord, that thou mayest bring me to see thy beauty. I know thee, I know thy name, I know the names of the 42 Gods who are with thee in this broad hall of the Two Truths . . . Behold, I am come unto thee. I have brought thee truth; I have done away with sin for thee. I have not sinned against anyone. I have not mistreated people. I have not done evil instead of righteousness . . .

      I have not reviled the God.

      I have not laid violent hands on an orphan.

      I have not done what the God abominates . .
      I have not killed; I have not turned anyone over to a killer.

      I have not caused anyone's suffering . . .

      I have not copulated (illicitly); I have not been unchaste.

      I have not increased nor diminished the measure, I have not diminished the palm; I have not encroached upon the fields.

      I have not added to the balance weights; I have not tempered with the plumb bob of the balance.

      I have not taken milk from a child's mouth; I have not driven small cattle from their herbage...

      I have not stopped (the flow of) water in its seasons; I have not built a dam against flowing water.

      I have not quenched a fire in its time . . .

      I have not kept cattle away from the God's property.

      I have not blocked the God at his processions."

      "The Book of the Dead was written circa 1800 BCE. 2 The Schofield Reference Bible estimates that the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and the provision of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai occurred in 1491 BCE., some three centuries later. Many religious liberals, historians, and secularists have concluded that the Hebrew Scripture's Ten Commandments were based on this earlier docu-ment, rather than vice-versa."

      October 18, 2012 at 4:19 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.