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. jonat

    When did this become the fiction section?

    November 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      the exact second religion was mentionrd.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  2. I have a question about Jesus

    How in the world did a man who spent most of his life complaining about many aspects of capitalism manage to become an icon of the G.O.P. ?

    October 28, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  3. Fuyuko

    Sadly, biblical archaeological fraud is highly lucrative and rampant. . People simply make stuff up and alter artifacts to support their position. As much as this interests me, it is likely a scam. Personally I do believe Jesus had a wife. That was normal custom for men of his age at the time.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • John C Finley

      A jewish male of 14 or older was under great pressure by his local community to marry.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      If you look far enough back into Jewish history, you will find God had a wife...then they realized those silly commandments would not allow them to worship any but the one god, and references and idols of gods wife began to disappear.
      Also, it was thought that a "confirmed batchelor" was synonimous with gay, so maybe Jesus was gay if he had no wife....discuss

      November 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  4. Pel Pondusian

    It is by no means strange that people with the most status to lose are always first to deny new findings or information. Often these denials occur without any reasonable attempt at verification and validity. There seems to be an inverse ratio between the status of the commentator or organization and of objectivity.

    October 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  5. rt4y

    Wait for the riots and killings to commence!!!

    October 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  6. Jeff

    He was just like any mortal, bad breath, passed gas, belched and masterbated........

    October 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  7. Bob

    We all know that Jesus never married. He was gay and gay marriage is contrary to the teachings of himself. Lead by example. Good job gay Jesus!

    October 23, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  8. thc therapy

    "the riddles of GOD are more satisfying than the solutions of men." gk chesterton

    October 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Innerspace is God's Place while outerspace is for the human race.


      October 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  9. Dan

    The Bible says numerous times that the Church is the Bride of Christ. Sad that the liberal press is taking one incomplete sentence from one papyrus scrap to try to change Christian beliefs...

    October 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Jesus never says that.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Taskmaster

      The liberal press and all of the other anti-Christ groups groups cannot change the minds of true believers.

      October 24, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Religion is Not Heathly for children or ANY living things

      Task – Yes, we all know that "true believers" will never change their opinions just because of mere FACTS and TRUTH!...

      October 24, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  10. johndoe

    If christians are as stupld as muslims, there might be some horrible acts on the streets right now. honestly, dont you think muslims are not permitted to use their brains?

    October 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  11. lawrencewinkler

    Silliest thing. There is nothing but delusion in the Christian myth to begin with. What's the problem with adding a wife, or a harem, or that Jesus was gay. It's all fiction anyway.

    October 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Seth

      lawrencewinkler. Canon is important. You can go ahead and write fan fiction that Spock was having a torrid affair with Bones, but it won't be accepted as canon by most Trekkies. Same thing here. Unless this is part of the official Jesus H. Christ series, it won't get accepted as canon by most Christians. Sure it's all fiction, but like any other diehard fans, they can erupt into nerd rage at any point over canon.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  12. W.G.

    It´s B.S. if Jesus had a wife the Apostles would surley have mentioned it . That´s why I do not believe Mary has any special
    powers to hear or help because Jesus said HE is the only intercessor between man and GOD .

    October 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • bob

      Perhaps they DID mention it. The gospels were altered in the third century to suit the Nicene Creed. Who knows what they originally said. Many holy books were declared heretical. Perhaps this fragment is one that survived from it's original state.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • jeremy

      In the Gnostic texts ...there was a story about the deciples arguing and questioning something mary had said..... and it went on saying if christ had made her worthy who are you argues (paraphrasing) its not common practice to object to a mans wife even in those days when in conversation. i belive she was the 12 apostle (judas being replaced of couse)
      Someone NOT being Jesus's wife ...well anyone would object to her then. She was one of them not higher nor lower ....equal. I think a wife would hold a higher place even in those days. O well anyways what do i know. Iguess the truth will come in the end you have to wonder if i am right.......What will you say to God when he asks you why?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Crypticpikle

      It is true–there have been so many things put into, and taken out, of the Bible. It was just a bunch of guys standing around with nothing better to do than argue about what should go into the "Good Book" and its sad to see that what is supposed to be the actual words of Christ being generally interpreted as one wishes to interpret them. Otherwise, we would see that war should not ever exist (ie, turn the other cheek) and that people would follow the rule of "do unto others..." All quite interesting in relation to the Christian faith, and those who are first to claim themselves Christians but the last to ACT as Christians...

      October 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  13. Trevor

    The hilarious thing is that it's only my on topic and well thought out comments with no vulgarity that are not making it through your f0ck|ing system.

    This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Words that have no offensive meaning whatsoever being banned. YOu make it impossible for anyone to say anything meaningful!.

    Is this perhaps a tool of control so that CNN can blacklist certain comments whenever they see fit by getting viewers used to a system of censorship that far exceeds necessity and makes little sense?

    CNN is just a government lap dog!

    October 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Crypticpikle

      Is it that difficult for you to write anything of merit without causing the censor to quiet you?

      October 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  14. Trevor

    Can we have a list of all the words in the english language CNN has banned! This is absolutely ridiculous. Just remove the f|_|ck|ing comments board altogether!

    October 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  15. Mark

    CNN why do you bother with the comments when you ensure that anyone who writes more then two sentances is going to get F[_[cked by your F{_}cking censor.
    I'm sick of wasting my time and you don't even have the decency to alert people that the comment is denied or what the word is causing the problem. ANd there is NO WAY TO FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF because nothing I wrote in any comment that has been banned is offensive!
    I have had about 1 out of every 2 comments denied by this D\_\mb/\ss system and not one f[_]ck|ing time has it been because of foul language or anything even remotely offensive!
    Take your blog and sh0\/e it up your /\ss! Free Speech! Look it up!

    YOu SUCK!

    October 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Helpful Hints

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      inf-orms us…
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

      October 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • julieann

      Clearly, you need to learn to speak your mind. Don't be bashful, tell us what you think!

      October 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  16. palintwit

    I'm beginning to believe that Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, taking care to speak only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation once again but first we must all follow the Palin Path.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  17. M. Mouse

    I'm still waiting for the movie about Muhammads wife and what she did all day at preschool.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  18. Bman

    Ask the butler. He'll know what's up...

    October 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  19. Geeeez

    The Vatican is a clumsy fake.

    October 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  20. tdsd

    Jesus, was he a wife beater?

    October 21, 2012 at 9:21 am |
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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.