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Jesus may have acted like an only child at times in the gospels, but all of the four evangelists make some mention of his brothers and sisters. He argued that the siblings weren’t cousins, but Joseph’s children from a previous marriage, making them the step-siblings of Jesus. In Luke, when Jesus is told by a crowd gathered to hear him speak, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you,” Jesus famously rejects them: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (8:19-21). (Matthew 1: 25) The Bible calls Jesus “the firstborn” of Mary, which implies that she had other children. No, Scripture does not contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church about the "brothers" of Jesus, when Scripture is properly interpreted in context. Because Jesus was thus dedicated to God at the age of 30 days we know for certain that he had neither older sisters or brothers: “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”! But the problem is this: in the original language (Koine Greek), the words "brothers and sisters" have many meanings, including: - close relatives (e.g. These included his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas as well as at least two sisters. He however had brothers. Or, if Joseph had fathered children from a previous marriage and was a widower, then the brothers would actually be half-brothers of Jesus. Read more from her at meghanmurphygill.com. Take Genesis 13:8 for example. Since the early days of the Catholic Church, the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary has been asserted and defended. Saunders, Rev. SHORT CATHOLIC ANSWERS: ON GOD’S GOODNESS AND THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL; ... KNOW AND LOVE YOUR CATHOLIC FAITH: Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis and a contemporary of Jerome and Helvidius, threw another possibility into the hat. Virtual worship is still embodied liturgy, says this Yale liturgist, How ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ became America’s passion play, A 92-year-old stained glass artist blends reverence and play. It’s common for non-Catholics to insist that what Catholics believe contradicts Scripture. Differing opinions exist about the “brothers.” Some Catholic commentators think that Joseph was a widower and the “brothers” were thus stepbrothers; others maintain that they were children of the “other Mary,” who was present at the crucifixion (Mt. Prior to the revelation of The Urantia Book, little was known or understood about the purely human life of Jesus of Nazareth before his public life. But if you cross reference Matthew 13:55-56 with John 19:25, it says that at the cross were present the mother (the Blessed Virgin Mary) of Jesus, and her sister Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary of Magdala! For the complete response download the podcast. “You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more that Joseph himself, on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born [Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary 21 (A.D. 383)]. Image: Flickr photo cc by Nicole O’Neil Photography. Therefore, as Catholics, based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, we do not believe that Mary and Joseph had other children and consequently that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. In Mark, a crowd asks of Jesus, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are his sisters here with us?” (6:3). They could have been adopted by Joseph and Mary. people of the same "house", e.g. Obviously we believe he had none of them. In other words, they're not the children of Mary, so Catholic apologists will often point to a few key texts in the Bible to support the conclusion that the so-called brothers of Jesus are not actually children of Mary. John 19:26-27 - it would have been unthinkable for Jesus to commit the care of his mother to a friend if he had brothers. Meghan Murphy-Gill is a writer living in Chicago. Ask us at editors@uscatholic.org! These children of Mary, Jerome said, were from Mary of Clopas, Jesus’ aunt and his mother’s sister, making them cousins. These three general arguments continue to be defended and disputed by scholars today, whose positions depend mostly on their particular traditions and how they interpret early church theology. “The origin is different but the nature alike: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained [Sermons 22:2 (A.D. 450)]. They could have been members of Jesus' religious group. 12, page 46). Those who had lived with Jesus for 30 years really did not know him. According to the Apostle John, “not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5). Mary, by the time her firstborn son's ministry started, had given birth through Joseph to at least four other boys and at least two girls for a family composed of at least seven children! This article is also available to read in Spanish. That’s incredible. Now I know in the Gospels there are referrals to Jesus having brothers and sisters, but reading the defence put on the website on this matter is not still clear to me. James and Jude did not believe Him to be the Son of God until after His resurrection. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? St. Jerome disagreed, indicating that by the fourth century at least some of the church community believed that Mary had stayed a virgin for the rest of her life. Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013) Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. Or is this just another attack on the Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary? From our series: Should the Catholic Church Elevate Mary's Status to … And I think this is meant to give us hope. To figure out what scriptural passages like Mark 6:3 and others mean when they mention the brothers and/or sisters of the Lord, we have to look at the original language that they are translated from. Though this document is not on the level of Sacred Scripture, it was written very early, and it may contain accurate historical traditions. This article appeared in the December 2013 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. Specifically, in Matthew 13:55-56, four men are named as the brothers (adelphos) of Jesus – James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. The Bible reveals that Jesus did have (half) brothers and (half) sisters (they all had the same mother, but not the same father). Ever been asked that? A second Roman Catholic argument is that Jesus’ brothers and sisters were the children of Joseph from a previous marriage. And John writes that after Jesus performed his first miracles in Cana, “he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days” (2:12). On the one hand, in the Catholic tradition, these have always been regarded as the cousins of Jesus. The Bible teaches that Jesus had "brothers and sisters", and names some of the brothers. 15:6), we need not infer from this verse that Mary gave birth to more than 500 children! But when they witnessed Jesus alive again, His siblings became ardent disciples. Specifically, in Matthew 13:55-56, four men are named as the brothers (adelphos) of Jesus – James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. (Matthew 13:54- 56; Mark 6:3) Those siblings were natural children of Jesus’ mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph. James and Joseph (also called Joses), who are called Jesus’ “brothers” (Mark 6:3) are indeed the children of Mary—Just not Mary, the mother of Jesus. Nothing is written that the Lord Jesus Christ had sisters. 3) Why does the catholic church say that Jesus didn't have brothers, when the bible said he did? Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: “The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love (Catechism of the Catholic Church 501). 27:56; see also Mark 15:40). But what does scripture say about his complicated family tree? Have a question you’d like to get answered? 27:56; see also Mark 15:40). There is however debate among theologians about Jesus having half-brothers through Joseph's previous wife. For centuries theologians have debated whether or not Jesus had any siblings. Its impartial discussion has been hindered by dogmatic considerations connected with the perpetual virginity of the Lord's mother, with denominational issues, and with the canonicity of non-Apostolic epistles. 27:56, Mk. The evidence may seem clear, but scripture scholars and theologians have been debating these and other passages for nearly two millennia, arguing whether those brothers and sisters were in fact biological siblings, step-siblings, “half” siblings, or not even siblings at all, but cousins. After St. Matthew’s account of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, he writes: “There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among who were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” (Matt. But if you cross reference Matthew 13:55-56 with John 19:25, it says that at the cross were present the mother (the Blessed Virgin Mary) of Jesus, and her sister Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary of Magdala! Copyright © 2020 US Catholic. So that leaves the number of Jesus' brothers at about 80 or 90! 19:25), and married to Clopas. The “sisters” have never been credibly identified. It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when reading through the Bible (and especially the Gospels) and the answer is not as straight-forward as it seems. It can mean a biological brother, but it can also mean an extended relative, or even a spiritual brother. Yes, Jesus had at least six siblings. Since Jesus, the first born, had no “blood brother,” He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple. NO, HE DIDN’T. Trent Horn • 11/19/2018. First off, LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION and THE VIRGIN BIRTH! Did Jesus Have Brothers? The only child often gets a bad rap. The first thing to understand is that the term brother (Gk. Why do Catholics teach that Mary was a virgin throughout her life when the Bible clearly says that Jesus had brothers? Stereotyped as entitled and self-important, people who grow up without siblings aren’t always looked upon favorably—especially by those of us with at least a sibling or two. The “sisters” have never been credibly identified. They could have been cousins. But this would have been extremely disrespectful for devout Jews if these were Jesus' biological brothers. Jesus is Mary's only son… (Catechism 501). Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013) Editor's note: This is an excerpt of the answer provided. This doctrine maintains that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus and that biblical references suggesting Jesus had siblings are really references to cousins (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 510). (Compendium 112-124) ... DID JESUS HAVE BIOLOGICAL BROTHERS AND SISTERS? http://www.catholic.com/ Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn answers a caller who asks if Jesus had brothers. 27:56, Mk. 15:40, Jn. An entire theory of Joseph’s being significantly older than Mary, having been previously married, having multiple children, and then being widowed before marrying Mary is invented without any biblical basis. This article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald. Mary's sister was … She would have been in perpetual labor! Who were Jesus's siblings? One of the more controversial teachings of the Catholic church deals with the perpetual virginity of Mary. James and Joseph (also called Joses), who are called Jesus’ “brothers” (Mark 6:3) are indeed the children of Mary—Just not Mary, the mother of Jesus. Jesus may have acted like an only child at times in the gospels, but all of the four evangelists make some mention of his brothers and sisters. 15:40, Jn. The New Testament writers didn’t leave a clear picture of what first-century Christians thought about Mary’s virginity after the birth of Jesus, if they left any details at all. Here the word brother is being used to describe the relationship between Abraham and Lot, who were not biological brothers but uncle and nephew: “So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers” (Gen 13:8, NIV; see also 14:12). "Did Jesus have Brothers and Sisters?" Did Jesus have biological brothers as some non-Catholics claim? These “brothers” are never once called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (John 2:1; Acts 1:14). John 7:3-4; Mark 3:21 - we see that younger "brothers" were advising Jesus. Did Jesus have brothers? Father William Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope parish in Potomac Falls, Virginia. It’s a great question and one that many Christians throughout history have wondered about. In the 3rd century, biological relatives with a connection to the nuclear family of Jesus, without explicit reference to brothers or sisters, were called the desposyni, from the Greek δεσπόσυνοι, plural of δεσπόσυνος, meaning "of or belonging to the master or lord". Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn answers a caller who asks if Jesus had brothers… Some have theorized that the Greek words adelphos (“brothers”) and adelphai (“sisters”) in Matthew 13 refer to spiritual brothers and sisters. 19:25), and married to Clopas. In Mark, a crowd asks of Jesus, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are his sisters here with us?” (6:3). You assume that "brothers" must mean "siblings" - even though the word "brothers" is used far more often in the New Testament to refer to people who are *not* siblings. This question has been in dispute from very early times, and many elaborate essays have been written upon it. Just a reminder for some people wondering, this is about BLOOD siblings. While some of what the Catholic Church teaches may be not be EXPLICITLY found in Scripture, this does not mean that it “contradicts”. All we can say for sure is that Jesus’ family tree looks just as complicated as those of many modern families. Interestingly, the Orthodox Churches solve this problem over brothers and sisters by speculating that St. Joseph was a widower who had other children before he married Mary. The Roman Catholic Church claims that the brothers were cousins, not brothers, and that Mary's sister was their mother. All Rights Reserved |, During pandemic, the Advent prophecies of Isaiah give comfort. To answer this question we need to look at differences in customs and languages. Why do bishops wear a hat and carry a stick? After St. Matthew’s account of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, he writes: “There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among who were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” (Matt. But this would have been extremely disrespectful for devout Jews if these were Jesus' biological brothers. It is conjecture, but some apocryphal works, such as the Protoevangelium of James, the Gospel of Peter, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, all seem to indicate a tradition of belief that Jesus’ brothers and sisters were the children of Joseph. So that puts us up to 30 or 40 or so. Because Jesus was thus dedicated to God at the age of 30 days we know for certain that he had neither older sisters or brothers: “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”! If Jesus did have brothers, why would he have entrusted Mary to the beloved disciple, John, at the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27)? These brothers and sisters are not mentioned at all until after the Lord began His ministry and are first mentioned as going with His mother and Himself to Capernaum ().It is in dispute whether any were believers in His Messianic claims, at least until the very end of His ministry (John 7:3-10).Most say that they were made believers through His resurrection, as they appear in company with … John 19:26-27 - it would have been unthinkable for Jesus to commit the care of his mother to a friend if he had brothers. Because of the Bible’s broad semantic range of “brother,” we can rest assured that although St. Paul writes, “[Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred…brothers at the same time” (1 Cor. Not one of Jesus’ brothers is mentioned as a disciple during his pre-crucifixion ministry. They are not cousins but brothers. Do you think Mary had 80 or 90 children? Differing opinions exist about the “brothers.” Some Catholic commentators think that Joseph was a widower and the “brothers” were thus stepbrothers; others maintain that they were children of the “other Mary,” who was present at the crucifixion (Mt. The first recorded argument was between St. Jerome and another fourth-century theologian, Helvidius, who had written that after the virgin birth of Jesus, Mary had other children with her husband, Joseph. John 7:3-4; Mark 3:21 - we see that younger "brothers" were advising Jesus. If Jesus did have brothers, why would he have entrusted Mary to the beloved disciple, John, at the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27)? For the complete response download the podcast. THE BROTHERS OF JESUS. William. The Author. Catholic Answers had a pretty good video discussing this … Because modern Roman Catholic teachings accept the belief of the perpetual virginity of Mary, Catholic teachings typically deny that Mary ever had sexual relations and therefore did not have other children. So did Jesus. Joseph isn’t mentioned outside of the birth of Jesus, causing some to believe that he was much older than Mary and died before Jesus’ public ministry. other people of the house of David) He claimed that the Greek word adelphios could refer to cousins, not just biological siblings. The earliest explanation of the “brothers” of the Lord is found in a document known as the Protoevangelium of James, which was written around A.D. 150. These are real brothers of Jesus from Joseph and Mary. 78, No. Is the Catholic Church correct in saying Jesus had "cousins" rather than "brothers and sisters"? He is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. There are several other places in scripture that refer to Jesus’ brothers, as well. Arlington Catholic Herald. They are NOT the same! It speaks of Mary as a consecrated virgin since her youth, and of St. Joseph as an elderly widower with children who was chosen to be Mary’s spouse for the purposes of guarding and protecting her while respecting her vow of virginity. In English, the word brother or sister, when used in relation to one’s family, refers to one’s actual siblings. Allow me to limit myself to three quotes from the early Church: “Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin [Four Discourses Against the Arians 2:70 (c. A.D. 360)]. Download Share. adelphos) has a broader meaning than uterine brothers. This is a common question and one often used by non-Catholics to challenge our belief that Mary remained a virgin throughout her whole life. Did Jesus have siblings? 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