April 10th, 2014
10:04 AM ET

Study: 'Jesus' wife' fragment not a fake

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

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(CNN) - A team of scientists has concluded that a controversial scrap of papyrus that purportedly quotes Jesus referring to "my wife," is not a fake, according to the Harvard Theological Review.

"A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, 'Jesus said to them, my wife' is an ancient document, dating between the sixth to ninth centuries CE," Harvard Divinity School said in a statement.

Scientists tested the papyrus and the carbon ink, and analyzed the handwriting and grammar, according to Harvard.

Radiocarbon tests conducted at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology produced an origination date for the papyrus of 659-859 CE, according to Harvard. MIT also studied the chemical composition of the papyrus and patterns of oxidation.

Other scholars studied the carbon character of the ink and found that it matched samples of papyri from the first to eight century CE, according to Harvard.

"None of the testing has produced any evidence that the fragment is a modern fabrication or forgery," the divinity school said.

At least one scholar sharply disagrees, however, calling the papyrus scrap "patently fake."

Unveiled by Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School historian, in 2012, the scrap has sparked a heated debate over Christian history, archaeological accuracy and the role of women in the church.

The fragment, which is about the size of a business card, contains just 33 words, including: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …" and "she will be able to be my disciple." 

Though she dubbed the fragment, "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife," King said that the papyrus does not prove that Jesus was actually married - just that ancient Christians discussed the possibility.

"This gospel fragment provides a reason to reconsider what we thought we knew by asking what the role claims of Jesus's marital status played historically in early Christian controversies over marriage, celibacy, and family," King said.

Other Christians have suggested that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically in the sentence fragments quoted in the papyrus. Some New Testament writers refer to the church as "the bride of Christ."

King and other scholars said they are equally intrigued by Jesus' mention of a female disciple.

"The main topic of the fragment is to affirm that women who are mothers and wives can be disciples of Jesus—a topic that was hotly debated in early Christianity as celibate virginity increasingly became highly valued," King said.

5 questions and answers about Jesus' 'wife'

The Harvard Theological Review also published on Thursday a sharp-worded rebuttal to King's hypothesis by Leo Depuydt, a professor of Egyptology at Brown University.

"I personally—and I am not sure whether I share this feeling with anyone—experience a certain incredulity pertaining to how something that is at first sight so patently fake could be so totally blown out of proportion," Depuydt writes.

Depuydt's criticism centers on the fact that the papyrus scrap contains a grammatical error in Coptic - one that mirrors a similar miscue in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.

The chances that two ancient works would have the same mistake are minuscule, the scholar said, strongly suggesting that the author of the"Jesus' wife" scrap copied from the Gospel of Thomas.

“As a forgery, it is bad to the point of being farcical or fobbish," Depuydt told the Boston Globe. "I don’t buy the argument that this is sophisticated. I think it could be done in an afternoon by an undergraduate student.”

The Vatican's newspaper has also called the papyrus fragment a fake. “Substantial reasons would lead us to conclude that the papyrus is actually a clumsy counterfeit," L'Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial in 2012. 

Vatican newspaper calls fragment referring to Jesus' wife 'a fake'

King and Harvard acknowledge that "nothing is known about the discovery of the fragment." King has said it was given to her by an unnamed donor. 

"All the known data about its origin and circulation need to be publicly disclosed and thus made available for scholarly discussionas is the norm in the handling of manuscripts. Is there some reason we cannot just be told?" Depuydt said.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • History • Jesus

soundoff (2,539 Responses)
  1. hughz49

    Why so much hatred on Jesus? If you read about him and learned of him before you spoke you would learn why he has lasted over the generations. He came with refreshing message containing truths we all follow today whether we acknowledge it or not...He came not condemn but to love people we label as "bad people".

    Why is it so hard to believe in supernatural? Because we don't see examples when we want them? Can we not think back to before even the Big Bang? The fact that atoms, matter, anything at all exist in the first place is supernatural and highly unusual. The fact that the big band exploded at a speed just right so that it wouldn't re collapse on itself... Why not a soul? Why not a heaven? Why not the questions why? Why not more that what WE observe with our senses? just asking.

    April 11, 2014 at 11:16 am |
    • Doris

      "He came with refreshing message containing truths we all follow today whether we acknowledge it or not...He came not condemn but to love people we label as "bad people""

      That's your opinion. The next Christian often has a completely different view. Also, many of us don't take too kindly to your labeling; your attempts to affect law based on the same personal judgment that leads Christians to "label".

      April 11, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I don't think anyone has a hate for Jesus or His teachings.
      Nobody is making fun of the Sermon on the Mount or anything...

      As for believing in the supernatural – consider for a moment how many things previously ascribed to the supernatural now have naturalistic explanations. Never once has a supernatural hypothesis proven to be true. One man's magic is another man's engineering.

      Religion was born to serve the same purpose as science; it answered questions about the world and how it worked. Of course, when we required religion as a psychic salve science was unable to answer such questions; science didn't even exist except as a "hey, stop pushing me into the water or I'll get wet" practical exercise. Religion was the first symptom of our sentience, of our consciousness and of our acknowledgement of our own subjectivity.

      When early man, his little brain bent upon survival at all costs, discovered that the world worked independly from how he thought it worked, (or at least how he had hoped it worked), early man was frightened and scared. That can't be! said early man to other early men. There must be some explanation, nature can't just be arbitrary!
      Ugg, said other early men, and thus "God" was born–or, more appropriately, gods. Early men weren't really very good at generalization, and since everything seemed to work independently from everything else, several gods were needed to explain the "stuff" that affected early man so profoundly. But instead of "Gravityman," "LightWavesWoman," "FractalDemon," and "FunctionChild," early man, unaware of such mystical things as provability and objectivity, figured that somebody just like him, but a little smarter, must be responsible for how and why the world worked like it did.

      In the modern era, we've managed to describe, well, almost everything, in physical terms. We've even managed to explain a great deal, too. God, well, he and his kin have been relegated by science to the very beginning of time, the exact moment of the big bang, when all the matter in the Universe was concentrated into one minute area. Everything after that time is accounted for by physics, if only in a general way. And even then, God seems highly improbable.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:28 am |
    • otoh2

      Sure, he had some nice concepts regarding kindly human behavior, but have you missed this from Matthew (just an example of some of his alleged condemnation-type verbiage:

      34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
      35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
      36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.
      37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
      38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. "

      April 11, 2014 at 11:28 am |
    • kudlak

      If anything, I actually feel sympathy for Jesus. I can't imagine what a devout Jewish rabbi would feel about being made such a sacrilege.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:45 am |
  2. s0merand0mguy

    LOL@all the sad atheists. Wow nothing to do on a beautiful Friday except sit on the internet and trash religion. You all sound like respectful gentleman. A great idea would be to get a life and stop trying to ruin others with your negativity. Just because you are out of touch spiritually doesn't mean you have to rain on everybody's parade like a negative Nancy.

    April 11, 2014 at 11:14 am |
    • Doris

      It is a beautiful Friday, isn't it? Finding time to sit around on the internet and generalize are we? lol.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:16 am |
      • Akira

        Doris, he called all posters "gentlemen."

        Guess he thinks us poor wimmin ain't gud on that thar buk lernin.

        April 11, 2014 at 11:31 am |
    • revbro

      In general, Atheist are not sad. In fact, they aren't on any guilt trip about maybe sinning and maybe not being forgiven... they aren't in despair about a friend or family member being sent to eternal condemnation for a little sin... They don't spend their time threatening their children that god is going to punish them... they don't spend Sunday mornings pretending to be much nicer than they really are, and hoping no one see's past the facade.. No, for the most part us Atheist are pretty easy going and find humor in people who believe in fantastical stories as if they were real.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • mk

      Negativity? Worshipping an evil vengeful god who throws you in hell for all eternity for misbehaving is negative.

      The religious do not have a monopoly on spirituality. Actually, spirituality and religion are in no way similar. Spirituality refers to an ultimate or immaterial reality, an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being, the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spirituality encourages an open mind, a personal quest. Religion dictates exactly how and what to think and actually forbids any independent thought or questioning, any variation from what is dictated. It's all spelled out, just accept it and shut up.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:26 am |
  3. brianrp911

    It's perfectly acceptable to think that Jesus had a wife. Jewish tradition in no way precludes a preacher from marrying. That was as true in the 1st century as it is today. There are many details of Jesus' life that were never mentioned in the Bible. There are many conflicting details within the Bible about the story of Jesus. Even within the gospels, the story is told differently because each gospel was written for a specific audience at a specific time in history, reflecting the political and social issues of the day. The gospels were written at a time when the Jesus Movement was failing to win the hearts and minds of the majority of Jews and reflects the growing tension between the two groups. This fragment of text in no way proves Jesus was married, but it must be regarded as one piece of evidence that the possibility exists.

    April 11, 2014 at 11:10 am |
  4. wwread

    In Revelation Jesus wife is revile as a city.
    Revelation 21:9-11
    King James Version
    9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

    10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

    11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;

    Revelation 19:7-9
    7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

    9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
    20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

    why are these people trying to add to he word of God

    Revelation 22:18 ESV / 3 helpful votes

    I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.

    April 11, 2014 at 11:10 am |
    • revbro

      Revelations is actually a caricature writing of the Rise and Fall of the Roman empire... it has already occurred... so changing the words no won't really harm anyone.. it has already passed.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • wwread

      Jesus walked in the spirit not in the fresh. his wife was the church. happy Friday everyone.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:28 am |
      • Akira

        Not the fresh?

        April 11, 2014 at 11:32 am |
        • joey3467

          I can see how after three days of being dead Jesus might not be so fresh.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • wwread

          Romans 8:1
          Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit;

          April 11, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • wwread

        Its what to come again, Matthew 24:36

        “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

        Revelation 22:12-13

        “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

        2 Timothy 2:23
        King James Bible
        But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

        so i leave you with that. happy Friday

        April 11, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • joey3467

          Thanks for the quotes from a really old book, but what is your point exactly?

          April 11, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • revbro

          To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether it be nobler to suffer the slings and arrows ....."

          Another sweet prolific writer I like to read... Happy Friday to you too.

          April 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
      • revbro

        Then who was that "fresh" dude they nailed to a cross and worship now?

        April 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
  5. kaiypov

    PAUSE THE WAR!!!!!!!!!!! My name is Emil Kaiypov. I am a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic, a lawyer, and a father of two children. The proposal for which I am asking your kind support is the suspension of all currently existing hostilities on Earth.

    The main goal of my entire project is to save and improve the lives of children who are suffering from the present conflicts and violence.

    The challenge is to create a moment of "pause" [a technical term from video language] in hostilities now and in the future, as well as to refusal to restart them at all. I believe that in this context, such "pause" in the war action seems do-able and practical, much more effective than the idealistic and utopian pressing of an imaginary "stop" button. In the future the first action will equate to the second: "pause" will become "stop". In order to alert the international community and potential supporters, I made a demonstration of my own at 18 October 2013 on the territory of Syrian embassy in Beirut, with poster "pause the war".

    The purpose of this demonstration, is to show through an example that:

    1) one person has the power to perform an action directed to the benefit of all mankind.

    2) no one should be indifferent, when war is concerned.

    3) war requires us to drop everything else, in order to stop it. Daily activities, against the background of war, look meaningless and empty.

    I believe, that this idea will resonate and supporters will wish to join it. The age of information technologies, will help to spread it around the globe. Definitely there will be supporters among the world's famous celebrities. In the event that a large number of ordinary people and celebrities join this campaign, the dream to stop all military actions on the planet will be realized. This will serve as an occasion to announce the call for volunteers in the "international army of peace". It will consist of unarmed "soldiers" who are ready at any time, to go to the hot spot to "pause" the hostilities with the fact of their presence and to encourage the warring parties to engage in dialogue. Ideally, this army should consist of a world-famous and beloved celebrities from all spheres of human activities.

    I suggest that countries be ready to support my initiative, in solidarity, by placing on the cloth of their national flags, the well-known pause symbol "II". I believe that in the course of implementation of this anti-war action, the reasons for which the suspended armed conflict began, will be resolved or continued in a civilized manner. This anti-war action will bring about a new peaceful reality, when there will be no state left, which "international army of peace" had not visited.

    The termination of all hostilities, will become the point of departure for further continuous progress in all directions.

    We are able to bring about the time, when the world will be fairly managed by a workable international organization which will be trusted by all citizens of the earth. When this happens, all kinds of weapons will be transferred to international United Nations control, the purpose of which, will be the preservation of peace and sustainable development of mankind.

    We live in a world, when the collective effort makes possible the colonizing of other planets in the foreseeable future. I believe, that we have enough strength and resources for the child born tomorrow to see a world, where uniform international standards of education, labor, pension and medical care, will be established everywhere. A world, where the primary human needs will be satisfied for free.

    A world, where nobody talks about freedom, because absolute freedom will accompany each person from the moment of birth, to his last breath. A world, where the happiness and freedom of the individual, will not happen in isolation but will include freedom and happiness of all of humanity. A world without war.

    A world without war is undisputed goal, that sooner or later humanity will definitely reach. It is the primary duty of every adult to fulfill a "world in peace"– everyone’s childhood dream. Every child surrounded by the horrors of war dreams that one day somebody will come and say "It is enough!" and by saying it bring war to an end. Then war will stop. That day has come! It's time to combine our efforts in order to make that dream come true. 

    April 11, 2014 at 10:55 am |
  6. ihavetopushthepramalot

    I guess even gods/demi-gods/prophets/charlatans/psychopaths/non-existent fictional characters (delete as applicable) need companionship too.

    April 11, 2014 at 10:45 am |
    • kudlak

      Without someone to worship him, God wouldn't be a "god" anymore, right? All of these stories of creator gods seem to presume that these beings needed to create people to worship them, which seems to be an indication that they weren't so "perfect" all by themselves after all.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:11 am |
      • ihavetopushthepramalot

        I remember seeing a Doctor Who episode (The God Complex, I believe) in which the alien fed off of faith. Perhaps Yahweh is a malevolent alien feeding off the faith of the gullible? It makes more sense than the Bible.

        April 11, 2014 at 11:20 am |
        • kudlak

          The Star Trek Voyager episode Coda has an alien trying to coax Janeway out of her body so that he can feed off of it.

          Puts the whole shepherd/sheep Christian relationship with Christ thing in a more accurate light, doesn't it? Shepherds keep sheep for food, after fleecing them for a long time, of course.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • otoh2

          Yes, kudlak, and this god likes fish too ("Be fishers of men"). He must be very, very hungry... and quite the carnivore, since he refused Cain's vegetable offerings!

          April 11, 2014 at 11:50 am |
  7. idiotusmaximus

    "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife," King said that the papyrus does not prove that Jesus was actually married – just that ancient Christians discussed the possibility......

    Or the ancient Christians created this FAKE to prove some kind of argument they were having at the time ( they had no way of knowing what was real in those days)....8th century is 800 years after the fantasy was supposed to have occurred.

    April 11, 2014 at 10:38 am |
  8. stillupathome

    Wait until they translate the rest and find out Jesus' "wife" was a dude. Oh, the humanity!

    April 11, 2014 at 10:38 am |
    • idiotusmaximus

      Well considering the average life span was 35 to 40 years in those days this fictional Jesus was never married tells you he could have had a hot boyfriend..

      April 11, 2014 at 10:40 am |
      • grr82cu2

        As you continue to demonstrate – you have aptly chosen a 'user name' to represent yourself.

        Jesus wasn't 'fictional'.

        Even the Jewish historian Josephus referred to him (twice) in his Antiquities of the Jews long after Jesus walked the earth.

        April 11, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • Doris

          Josephus was a hearsay "historian". There were a number of those types parroting what they heard.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:15 am |
        • kudlak

          Josephus talked about a few different characters named Jesus. He also talked about Hercules as though he was an actual historical figure, so he might not be the quality of source that you imagine him to be.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:15 am |
        • otoh2


          Josephus mentioned Hercules a few times too. Here's just one:

          "That from Surim was the land of Assyria denominated; and that from the other two (Apher and J.apbran) the country of Africa took its name, because these men were auxiliaries to Hercules, when he fought against Libya and Antaeus; and that Hercules married Aphra's daughter, and of her he begat a son, Diodorus; and that Sophon was his son, from whom that barbarous people called Sophacians were denominated."


          Josephus reported on what the Christians claimed about their hero. That's all.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:19 am |
  9. scanboy

    Did you know there was a second fragment that fit together with the first one. The second fragments interspersed the words, "take" and "please" into the phrase, "Jesus said to them, [take] my wife [please]."

    April 11, 2014 at 10:35 am |
  10. primatica

    I respect the concept of Jesus the man, not Jesus the deity....

    April 11, 2014 at 10:34 am |
  11. bostontola

    Humans have a form well suited to their ecological niche thousand of years ago. They are very similar in form to apes.

    Hypothesis 1. Humans were made in God's image. God backward engineered the entire earth (size, gravity, other animals, etc.) to make this perfect fit look like it emerged from an evolutionary process. Even down to the chemical level, our metabolism, genes, everything connects back to other life forms right in line with evolution. God went further and backward engineered the solar system to make this all work. Then God went further and backward engineered an entire galaxy of billions of suns. Then God went further and backward engineered an observable universe with billions of galaxies that all look like they came from a Big Bang. All this to create humans in His image.

    Hypothesis 2. Life evolved on this planet. Billions of years of evolution on one of billions of billions of planets (earth) that had the right combination of environmental factors, intelligence emerged as an advantageous characteristic. Dinosaurs were intelligent. 100's of millions of years of more evolution and self aware intelligence emerged in a social species., humans. If we are in someone's image, it's our last common ancestor with apes.

    Hypothesis 1 sounds outlandish to me. Hypothesis 2 sounds natural and fits all the objective evidence (of which there is a lot) we have.

    April 11, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  12. idiotusmaximus

    "None of the testing has produced any evidence that the fragment is a modern fabrication or forgery," the divinity school said.....

    Lololololololololololololololol.......This is probably a fake forgery put out in the 8th century by the Catholic Church to have evidence that there WAS A PERSON name Jesus and that if there ever was a question getting through the Vatican's censors about the reality of Jesus they had the proof he did exist.

    April 11, 2014 at 10:22 am |
    • Doris

      One of my favorite early church defenses is where Justin Martyr and several other apologists use Satan to defend against claims of other older stories similar to the Gospel accounts. And many will argue that there is little evidence to support the claims, but to me, what is most telling, is the excuse put forth by these apologists – that Satan was able to perform plagiarism backward in time....lol. And these same apologists are often referenced in support of "witnesses" or other hearsay "historians".

      April 11, 2014 at 10:32 am |
      • idiotusmaximus

        Lololol....You can write which ever way you want in fiction....and in those days if you ever questioned the church the Hieratic police would be out looking for you.

        April 11, 2014 at 10:45 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        I don't think it is that far fetched.
        After all, Satan is the one who planted all those misleading fossils in the geological strata to make the Earth look old.

        April 11, 2014 at 11:03 am |
        • kudlak

          And everyone knows that he's using mirrors to make it only appear that the Earth is a sphere going around the sun. If scripture says that the world is flat and unmoving then that's just the way it is.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • kermit4jc

          however..youhave to show without doubt that the BIble for a FACT says it is flat....rather than using figure of speech....you say it is saying fact..o back it up that the intention was flat and not figure of speech

          April 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Akira

          Joey, mirrors? That's a new one I haven't heard. Really?

          April 11, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • Akira

          Meant kudlak. Apologies.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          o He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."
          NIV Bible, Isaiah 40:22
          The Hebrew word used in the original text is "Chug", which means a flat circle, like a coin.
          The word for orb/ball is "Dur".
          The bible posits a flat Earth.

          April 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          sorry..weak attempt n your part...show me they are not using figure of speech.....

          April 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          and by the way..Isaiah is full of poetry....and such...

          April 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          It also appears that the concept of orbital rotation was unknown to those who wrote the Bible given that they state the earth is immovable and inert.
          "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved."
          – Psalm 104:5
          "The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved."
          Psalm 93:1
          "Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Psalm 96:10
          "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises." Ecclesiastes 1:5

          And your apologetics are standard fare.
          Whenever a believer is faced with a Biblical inconsistency, it always winds up being
          a) A translation error
          b) A metaphor
          c) The ineffable Word of God so don't ask questions just believe

          The best part of citing God as your source is that He is never around to correct any misapprehensions.

          April 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          u are avoiding the issue..and Psalms is poetry whether you like it or not.....you seem very ignorant in communication ...you actually used psalms to prove it? silly logic...try again

          April 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          by the way..at least we have choices...we are not narrowminded like you..thinking there is only one choice

          April 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The Hebrew word "raqiya", which meant the visible vault of the sky, appears in the Old Testament 17 times. The term comes from "riqqua", which means "beaten out".
          Brass objects in that era were either cast in the form required or beaten into shape on an anvil. Metalsmith could beat a lump of cast brass into a thin bowl.
          Thus, Elihu asks Job, "Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal ?" (Job 37:18)

          Elihu's question shows that the Hebrews considered the vault (or firmament in King James) of heaven a solid, physical object. Remember, in Genesis, the firmament was made on the 2nd Day to divide the waters, some being above and some below the vault.
          On the 4th day, the sun, moon and stars were placed in said vault/firmament.

          But back to Chug and Dur – Job 22:14 says God "walks to and fro on the vault of heaven". Both Job and Isaiah use the term "chug", which implies a physical object on which one can sit and/or walk.

          Matthew 4:8 says, "Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their glory."
          If they authors knew the world to be spherical, they would have known that you cannot see the entire world at once, no matter how tall the mountain.

          April 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          your argument isstill acking....show me that they meant all the kingdoms in the world..and actually..we can see evidence that one can NOT see all the "known world" as the Jews knew of that day....Abraham camefromUr..CERTAONLY no mountain is high enough to see UR from there,.even if flat...sorry..you are NOT proving whether it is stated as FAct or using figures of speech....

          April 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          So you accept at face value that the Fleshly incarnation of the Creator of teh Universe had a walk in the desert with a supernatural manifestation of evil who transported Him to the top of a mountain – but you don't accept that the actual words used "a very high mountain" really mean a very high mountain?

          April 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          So you accept at face value that the Fleshly incarnation of the Creator of teh Universe had a walk in the desert with a supernatural manifestation of evil who transported Him to the top of a mountain<–this in response to my last post to you?

          April 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Or that "all the kingdoms of the world" actually means " all the kingdoms of the world" ??

          April 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          ever heard of a hyperbole? "Man this line is taking FOREVER to move" so are we to say this is literally taking forever? or is it a figure of speech......LOGIC tells me that the writer was basically using a hyperbole of some sorts..unless it can be proven they were using the word to make it literal fact...which you contend for it does..thus you have to show it

          April 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • kudlak

          Maybe they only meant "son of God" as a figure of speech?

          April 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          and thus you show that all you people do it cursory reading..without studying to find the intent and context

          April 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The fact remains that they could just as easily have used the term for "orb" instead of "disc" without detracting from the metephorical or hyperbolic nature of the text.
          Why do you think they opted not to?

          LOGIC tells me that people cannot literally walk on water.
          Was that also metaphorical language, or do you believe that Christ did exactly what is described ?

          April 11, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          again its all in the useage of the words in the context...they had literary license to use which ever word they pleased..it was their writing..not yours..and you have yet to prove to me it was NOT a figure of speech..but it was only literal and nothing more

          April 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          LOGIC tells me that people cannot literally walk on water.
          Was that also metaphorical language, or do you believe that Christ did exactly what is described ?

          Maybe the Greek authors used their literary license on the word "water" when it actually means "ground".

          If transcribing the Divine Word of God for the ages, one would assume that the author would be most careful in choosing the terminology. If you've a word for "orb" and a word for "disc", even in the midst of elaborating a metaphor in which the difference may not be considered essential to the message, wouldn't you pick the most accurate one so as to better illustrate your point?

          April 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          it is called CONTEXT..the people actually saw Jesus walk on water..and Peter went out to try it himself...nothing in it drips of figure of speech..

          April 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          apparently then we have to use another word than "forever" when making it a hyperbole..according to you..cmon....get in with it with literature and literary devices

          April 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Maybe you should study Theo's principles of hermeneutics.

          April 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
  13. idiotusmaximus

    "None of the testing has produced any evidence that the fragment is a modern fabrication or forgery," the divinity school said............

    Lolololollololololololollololo...too funny...DUH...this is a forgery from the 8th century.....probably put out from someone working for the Catholic Church t that time because

    April 11, 2014 at 10:15 am |
  14. robertholt

    The papyrus may be ancient and real, but it is not accurate. Folks, Jesus didn't have a wife. Come on. Occasionally, you hear about the "gospel" of this and the "gospel" of that, but those are false gospels that try to discredit Jesus. God hasn't left us without His Word. He has given us His Word – the Bible. The only true gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

    April 11, 2014 at 10:09 am |
    • Doris

      "The only true gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."

      lol. Well we feel pretty confident that we know Luke authored Luke. What about the rest?

      April 11, 2014 at 10:14 am |
      • Doris

        (And of course Luke was a disciple of Paul's so we really can view Luke as a hearsay "historian".)

        April 11, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • idiotusmaximus

          And then of course there is no empirical evidence that Paul ever existed...so to sum up we have a fantasy on our hands.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:24 am |
        • grr82cu2

          Get a new teacher Doris – with all due respect.

          The Apostle Luke was _NOT_ 'a disciple of Paul' !!!!

          Luke, the physician, was one of the original twelve apostles _LONG BEFORE_ the conversion of Saul of Tarsus ('Paul" afterward that event) a Pharisee who was persecuting Christians to becoming a Christian himself.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:42 am |
        • joey3467

          A quick reading of the first four verses in Luke doesn't support your position that Luke knew Jesus.

          Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

          Note verse two where he basically comes right out and says that he heard about Jesus from others.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:58 am |
        • Doris

          grr82cu2: "The Apostle Luke was _NOT_ 'a disciple of Paul' !!!!"

          Biblical Scholars are in wide agreement that the author of the Gospel of Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles.
          Do you have good evidence that statement is incorrect? If so, bring it out.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • Doris

          I should add that generally, Acts is dated to second half of 1st century, no earlier than say 60.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:09 am |
        • grr82cu2

          Doris – first off – ALL of the 'gospels' (the first four books of the established Christian bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) – are anonymous. The 'names' of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John were chosen and applied to those first four books because of the 'characteristics' considered to be identifying traits of the men who followed Jesus as his disciples/apostles and not because they signed or claimed to have written them (or have them written by an accompanying scribe/companion such as did Paul).

          As to the 'wide-spread agreement' you cite that the third book ('Luke") was written by the same person who wrote the book of Acts – Acts too is ANONYMOUS – so to say there is 'agreement' by 'scholars' is to gloss over the fact that while it may be their OPINION – that's all it is.

          The letters of Paul are clearly by Paul (or at his behest as he dictated) even being attested to as being from him as in the closing remarks as in 2nd Thessalonians).

          Again – the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul of Taurus, the Pharisee) was _NOT_ a disciple of "Luke the Physician".

          April 11, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • Doris

          "Again – the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul of Taurus, the Pharisee) was _NOT_ a disciple of "Luke the Physician"."

          Reading comprehension issues, grr??

          Scroll up and you'll see that now you have it backwards from what I wrote.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:33 am |
        • Doris

          Also note that you probably missed in my initial response this: "Luke authored Luke. "

          I was responding to myself with further information on what is generally agreed on AUTHORSHIP, not making claims about the characters at play in the story.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • Doris

          And I am well aware of the anonymous nature of the Gospels.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • revbro

      Who deemed the other gospels "false gospels'? Men, a couple hundred years after the fact? I know, you have faith that they got it right and left all their prejudices outside the door. You have faith that God directed them in the right direction... you have faith that not one of them was a Peter or Judas type character.. using their status for selfish reasons.. because God/Jesus only chose good men to carry out their task? (Think about it before you respond to quickly.)

      April 11, 2014 at 10:17 am |
      • idiotusmaximus

        First find empirical evidence that any of these people ever existed.....and when they were first ever heard of.

        April 11, 2014 at 10:26 am |
        • grr82cu2

          There are abundant 'empirical' evidences existed @idiotusmaximus – but such 'evidences' are never acceptable to those such as yourself no matter how much historical evidence is presented. Apparently it simply more satisfying to you to play the 'troll' and being the 'naysayer' than to trying to learn more about or at least objectively consider that which contradicts your entries.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:45 am |
        • snuffleupagus

          Ahhh, grr, I see that you are doing the hokey-pokey and turning yourself around. Still, as you dance, you did not answer the question ftom idiotusmaximus, and present your "empirical facts. Note the word used: FACTS, not something from the bibidy-bobity-boo book.

          April 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
      • kermit4jc

        @revbro notcouple hundred years after the fact..but immediately.....there us list of "accepted" canon alreadyin exitance in 150 AD of the NT...a good read is from Brian H Edwards "Why 27"

        April 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
    • kudlak

      You haven't read much about how books were selected to form the Bible, have you? You seem to believe that the Bible has always directed theology when the opposite is actually true. The Church that Constantine sided with already had a set theology, and they merely selected all the books that happened to match that theology. Other Christians used some of the same books, but also some different ones as well. Some books, like John and Revelation, were very popular especially with gnostics and were opposed by some Church Fathers because of that. Something closer to a popular vote may be why we have those books in the Bible today.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:28 am |
  15. revbro

    Any and all religious scholars understand that the Bible is a compilation of stories and writings from a variety of sources. They also know that many writings were deemed unworthy to be included in the Bibles final form. Those who are not so scholarly tend to believe the Bible just appeared in its current form, written, edited and handed to man by God himself. These ignorant people don't want to have any understanding or teaching of anything other than what is in their holy bible, compiled by man.

    April 11, 2014 at 10:04 am |
  16. blessed137

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconcile you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:15–23

    April 11, 2014 at 10:04 am |
    • Doris

      Ah yes, more gab from Motor Mouth, the Joseph Smith of his day.

      April 11, 2014 at 10:18 am |
    • mk

      "This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven"

      Except for those people who have not or will never hear it.

      April 11, 2014 at 10:51 am |
    • kudlak


      What does the image of something invisible look like?

      Seriously, what you're saying here is just so much word salad. He's the firstborn of all creation, but he also created everything? How does that work?

      April 11, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  17. bostontola

    Does this fragment matter?

    2 possibilities, the fragment is fake, or it's genuine. Either outcome has no impact on the veracity of Christianity.

    So this fragment doesn't matter.

    It does matter to the owner, it can now be sold for a bunch of shekels.

    April 11, 2014 at 9:57 am |
    • Doris

      "no impact on the veracity of Christianity."

      veracity? as in accuracy? or some other sense?

      April 11, 2014 at 10:12 am |
      • bostontola

        Yes, historical veracity. Is Christianity right? This fragment has no impact on that question in my opinion.

        April 11, 2014 at 10:35 am |
        • Doris

          Ah – sorry boston – I should have picked up on that.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • bostontola

          My bad, I should have been more specific.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:47 am |
  18. lookatuniverse

    Mary & Jesus in Quran (Islamic Scripture)

    “Mention in the scripture Mary. She isolated herself from her family, into an eastern location.” [19:16]

    “While a barrier separated her from them, we sent to her our Spirit. He went to her in the form of a human being.”

    “She said, "I seek refuge in the Most Gracious, that you may be righteous."”

    “He said, "I am the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a pure son."”

    “She said, "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me; I have never been unchaste."”

    “He said, "Thus said your Lord, `It is easy for Me. We will render him a sign for the people, and mercy from us. This is a predestined matter.' "”

    “When she bore him, she isolated herself to a faraway place.”

    “The birth process came to her by the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "(I am so ashamed;) I wish I were dead before this happened, and completely forgotten."”

    “(The infant) called her from beneath her, saying, "Do not grieve. Your Lord has provided you with a stream.”

    "If you shake the trunk of this palm tree, it will drop ripe dates for you.*

    "Eat and drink, and be happy. When you see anyone, say, `I have made a vow of silence, [to the Most Gracious]*; I am not talking today to anyone.' "

    “She came to her family, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have committed something that is totally unexpected.”

    "O descendant of Aaron, your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother unchaste."

    “She pointed to him. They said, "How can we talk with an infant in the crib?"”

    (The infant spoke and) said, "I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture, and has appointed me a prophet.

    "He made me blessed wherever I go, and enjoined me to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and the obligatory charity (Zakat) for as long as I live.

    "I am to honor my mother; He did not make me a disobedient rebel.

    "And peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I get resurrected."

    “That was Jesus, the son of Mary, and this is the truth of this matter, about which they continue to doubt.”

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is.”

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    April 11, 2014 at 9:43 am |
    • idiotusmaximus

      I find it funny that people that argue for the existence of Jesus and god for that matter only use the bible or later stories written with information from the bible as what they consider REAL HISTORIC EVIDENCE THAT ANY OF THIS EVER HAPPENED... .NEVER DO THEY HAVE cross reverences from some outside source or EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.

      April 11, 2014 at 10:31 am |
  19. jtucker4

    I like how Christians always have an answer to defend their 2000 year old skygod tale. Just deal with the fact that you are weak minded and emotional or your parents brainwashed you.

    April 11, 2014 at 9:38 am |
    • kingsbda

      Oh? Really, then? I suppose this is why thousands of Muslims in the middle east have claimed to see this "skygod" incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ, and willing to stand to death against affliction from the Islamic majority to defend this. Brainwashing, then. By whom? You believe that this plane is the 'true reality,' but in fact, you have suppressed the truth that there is anything beyond the compass of the mortal mind.

      April 11, 2014 at 9:56 am |
      • bostontola

        "You believe that this plane is the 'true reality,' but in fact, you have suppressed the truth that there is anything beyond the compass of the mortal mind."

        When a person believes in some other plane of reality with no evidence what so ever, I'd say that qualifies as a bit loco. Not much different than, aliens are controlling our minds, or any of the other conspiracy theories. Who knows, maybe there is some other plane, but to suggest that people who believe in the reality we can verify are the nutty ones? Wow.

        April 11, 2014 at 10:03 am |
        • forwhatsright

          So what makes your version of "reality" true reality? THOUSANDS witnessed Jesus' miracles. Returning Lazarus from the dead 4 days after he passed, curing the blind and the paralyzed. So, because you have not seen today, it is not true? Have you seen George Washington? Is he any the less real?

          April 11, 2014 at 10:23 am |
        • bostontola

          Thousands of years ago, supersti.tious people "witnessed" "miracles". There have been no sightings since the enlightenment. My reality is verifiable by scientific test. Religious experience is subjective. Humans are easily fooled (magicians exploit this). There are many religions, with different beliefs. At most, 1 is right. I think they are all wrong, you think they are all wrong but 1, yours.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:40 am |
        • joey3467

          Until you can prove that Jesus preformed any of those miracles without using the bible I see no reason to believe them. You can't use the bible to prove Jesus was a god. The bible is the claim that Jesus was a god, and if you want to prove it you need to use something other than the bible.

          April 11, 2014 at 10:42 am |
      • orcahawk

        Kingsbda – there is much that is beyond "the compass of the mortal mind". All the more reason to not commit yourself to a single dogma. Especially the jealous ones that doom you to hell if your thoughts stray.

        Science and the scientific method reveal the truths in our existence. How we use that is up to the individual.

        April 11, 2014 at 10:25 am |
    • Doris

      Careful, jtucker4. I think kingsbda has a little doll that he can stick pins in....

      April 11, 2014 at 10:02 am |
    • joellbanks

      I like how non-Christians always have a nasty word to say to defend their modern monkey to man tale. Just deal with the fact that you are weak minded and emotional or your parents brainwashed you. (see what I did there?)


      April 11, 2014 at 10:12 am |
    • blessed137

      Hi, I dont know your name however one thing I do is that you made a false accusation against me. My parents never brainwashed me, it was a decision I made when I was in my 20's. I had religious burns growing up. My grandmother was a person that professed Christ but she never demonstated the love of Christ or taught the Mercy, Love, forgiveness, and hope of Christ Jesus. I was an atheist for a long time. I was not until I learned of the truth of my own heart that I was not good, i sinned against an all power Holy God and I must be judged. God is Good. therefore he is just. He must hold people accountable for their evil. However when I learned what Jesus did for me that I could be forgiven because he took the penalty for my sin. I decided to receive him into my heart. You may be able to say that I wasnt real its all in your head. But what you cannot say is you dont have a change of heart. you dont have knew desires. I know the condition of my heart before I cam to Christ, I was full of bitterness, hatred, using words to cut people down. I hated people because of the way they always treated me. For no reason they were always cruel. Which people are. When I was born again the Jesus Christ you know lives in my heart has made it knew. I am able to love those who hate me, forgive those who offend me. I have the deepest desire to want to live for God. Something I never had before.
      How troubling it is when I read these comments, because 90% of what Ive read is full of antagoninist, bitterness, hatred, crude humor, words that kill. Rather than build people up.
      The Word of God is correct when He speaks of the gentile mind.."Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kindd of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decredd that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

      However with the power and love of Jesus Christ, I forgive those who say all kinds of cruelty against me. I do not have to believe what I do. You have freewill to make that choice. I tell and profess the hope I have in Jesus. Forgiveness, love, and knewness of life. God bless you and Much Love. I pray he soften your heart. I invite you to ask Jesus into your heart.

      April 11, 2014 at 10:28 am |
      • blessed137

        oops i meant to say you do not have to believe what i do,lol

        April 11, 2014 at 10:31 am |
      • bakbic

        Too much unnecessary capitalization.. too long.. too boring.. too much BS.. you could have just said kumbaya..

        April 11, 2014 at 10:38 am |
        • ihavetopushthepramalot

          C'mon now. Theists wouldn't be theists without vast swaths of unnecessary capitalization.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:05 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          And that's The Truth.

          April 11, 2014 at 11:07 am |
      • mk

        Why did you need religion to be a better person? There are no rules in religion that aren't common social norms/common sense. You could simply follow one rule and wouldn't need religion to be a better person. This rule has been said by MANY great leaders throughout history: Do unto others. This is nothing new, there is no reason for a book, a priest, a church, a threat of punishment, or even a god to know this. It's common sense: treat others the way you want to be treated. Your mom probably even told you that.

        Also, although you were not raised as a christian, you obviously had an influence somewhere.

        April 11, 2014 at 11:07 am |
        • blessed137

          to MK
          There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God, All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit . the poison of vipers is on their lips. their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways. and the way of peace they do no know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

          According to the Man's Standards man is good. According to God's perfect standard of righteousness, no one is good (Read the ten commandments). You need a savior.

          Yes I had influence from the Holy Spirit.

          The heart is deceifully wicked – Jeremiah

          Good people do not dishonor their parents
          Good people do not lie, steal, murder (hate is murder at heart, commit adultery (lust is adultery at heart), covet, blaspheme their creator, or put other "gods" before him. (anything you put before good ex: money, or even your self is considered another god)

          April 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
        • blessed137

          Man has a sinful nature, it does not stop. Jesus Christ gives man the power to walk in newness of life. Yes we are not perfect, but those who walk in the way of the spirit As we mature in the Lord he gives us new desires that cannot be attained on human effort.

          April 11, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
  20. lunchbreaker

    I'd like to get some opinions on something I heard this morning on "Stand Up" w/ Pete Dominick. He was discussing what happens after ou die. A caller stated that he thought reincarnation was the most plausable afterlife scenario because being born on earth is something we actually observe. Just curious of anyones opinions.

    April 11, 2014 at 9:35 am |
    • myweightinwords

      I don't really think a lot about an "afterlife" but when I do, I often find reincarnation makes a fair amount of sense as such things go....certainly more than your "eternity" determined by the short time you spend on this earth in a single lifetime.

      April 11, 2014 at 10:21 am |
    • bostontola

      The entire notion of afterlife is kooky to me. Reincarnation is no more sensible than any of the others to me. Our minds are physically in our brains. When that brain dies, the mind ceases to exist. Our minds didn't exist before we were born, and they don't exist after we die (other than as memories in other people).

      I never got the value of reincarnation. If there is no memory of previous lives, what good is it?

      April 11, 2014 at 10:53 am |
    • ihavetopushthepramalot

      I've never understood the appeal of reincarnation. It's our memories and experience which makes us what we are. So what if your 'spirit' is reborn in another form. It ain't you.

      Still though, I guess it's still more appealing than facing reality. I'm not too keen on eternal nothingness. I just hope that I'm wrong and my consciousness survives somehow post brain death.

      April 11, 2014 at 10:59 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      I don't believe in any afterlife myself. I just thought it was an interesting approach to the different possibilities.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:00 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I believe in reincarnation is so far as my consti/tuent atoms will continue to exist and will likely form other types of matter.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:06 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.