Church of Christ teaches Jesus had siblings?


#1

I was raised Disciple of Christ and converted to Catholicism in 1988.

My husband of four years is Church of Christ - a fairly fundamentalist one.

We both received annulments from our first marriages before we were married. He has a 14 year old daughter and I have a 16 year old son.

Each week at dinner we read the gospel for the following Sunday and discuss it. This week is the reading from Luke where Gabriel comes to Mary.

My stepdaughter was talking about how, later on, his siblings didn't believe him. I said, "Whose siblings?" She said, "Jesus's siblings." I was stunned silent for a minute and then managed to say, "Oh ... We don't believe Jesus had siblings."

I don't remember ever being taught that Jesus had siblings in the Disciple of Christ church. But my research after this conversation seems to reveal that many or most Protestant churches believe this.

Is this true? Are Protestant churches teaching this as fact? It seems to me the documentation of the various interpretations of the references to Jesus's "brothers" in the New Testament would mean that, at the most, the churches would be teaching the various theories and not asserting that Jesus had brothers as a fact.


#2

I would say it is probably true of most protestant communions. Personally, I see the claim that since scripture refers to “brothers and sisters” is a misunderstanding of the language. Even Luther assumed they were cousins.

Jon


#3

I would think that most Protestant denominations teach that Jesus had siblings. We must remember, however, that Aramaic and Hebrew did not have a word for cousin and most people called each other "brothers." We call each other brethren, but surely we are not all each others' siblings.


#4

That would be interpreting Scripture through Western lenses.

Scripture needs to be interpreted in cultural and political context. Jesus came from the Middle East, he was not a Westerner. He was brought up in a Jewish home. People of that time referred to their 'first cousins' as brothers and sisters because** there is no Hebrew or Aramaic word for 'cousin'. **Therefore they are referred to as brother or sister. often two or three families lived in one home or one street and often mingled. That was the language used of the day.

Lot, for example, is called Abraham’s "brother" (Gen. 14:14), even though, being the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother (Gen. 11:26–28), he was actually Abraham’s nephew.

Another interesting point regarding language is that Jewish graves of that time would be marked as an example "Here lies Joshua first-born son of Magdalene" even if Magdalene had no other sons. Why did they do this? Ancient Jews used the term "first-born" for a specific reason. For them it meant the child that opened the womb (Ex. 13:2; Num. 3:12). Under the Mosaic Law, it was the "first-born" son that was to be sanctified (Ex. 34:20).

Did this mean the parents had to wait until a second son was born before they could call their first the "first-born"? Hardly. The first male child of a marriage was termed the "first-born" even if he turned out to be the only child of the marriage.


#5

[quote="akarmitage, post:1, topic:307745"]
I was raised Disciple of Christ and converted to Catholicism in 1988.

My husband of four years is Church of Christ - a fairly fundamentalist one.

We both received annulments from our first marriages before we were married. He has a 14 year old daughter and I have a 16 year old son.

Each week at dinner we read the gospel for the following Sunday and discuss it. This week is the reading from Luke where Gabriel comes to Mary.

My stepdaughter was talking about how, later on, his siblings didn't believe him. I said, "Whose siblings?" She said, "Jesus's siblings." I was stunned silent for a minute and then managed to say, "Oh ... We don't believe Jesus had siblings."

I don't remember ever being taught that Jesus had siblings in the Disciple of Christ church. But my research after this conversation seems to reveal that many or most Protestant churches believe this.

Is this true? Are Protestant churches teaching this as fact? It seems to me the documentation of the various interpretations of the references to Jesus's "brothers" in the New Testament would mean that, at the most, the churches would be teaching the various theories and not asserting that Jesus had brothers as a fact.

[/quote]

Why is Mary's perpetual virginity such a big deal? I understand Jesus was an only child, but what if he hadn't been? How would that change God's salvation plan? I admit it's a little startling when you hear Christians casually refer to Jesus' brothers as if it were a well-established fact.


#6

[quote="JonNC, post:2, topic:307745"]
I would say it is probably true of most protestant communions. Personally, I see the claim that since scripture refers to "brothers and sisters" is a misunderstanding of the language. Even Luther assumed they were cousins.

Jon

[/quote]

Indeed. Mary vowed before Gabriel to be the "bond slave" of the Lord - her own Son. How could she do that with other children? While we do see "brothers" and "sisters" of Christ, nowhere is there mention of "children" regarding Mary. As well, Gabriel said that she would bear "A Son". Singular. This is some of the "impious speculation" that Jean Calvin warned against. Apparently, there is a lot of impiety these days.

Amazing, ain't it Jon, that the Lutherans are having to defend their own traditions, not from Catholics, but from bible Christians? Topsy turvy world.


#7

[quote="po18guy, post:6, topic:307745"]
Indeed. Mary vowed before Gabriel to be the "bond slave" of the Lord - her own Son. How could she do that with other children? While we do see "brothers" and "sisters" of Christ, nowhere is there mention of "children" regarding Mary. As well, Gabriel said that she would bear "A Son". Singular. This is some of the "impious speculation" that Jean Calvin warned against. Apparently, there is a lot of impiety these days.

Amazing, ain't it Jon, that the Lutherans are having to defend their own traditions, not from Catholics, but from bible Christians? Topsy turvy world.

[/quote]

One thing that must be said here. Lutheranism does not consider this an article of faith.

That said, I know of no major Lutheran theologian, from Luther on, that questioned her perpetual virginity, and yet there are American Lutherans who do. Walther even claims it to be beyond question.

While I do not condemn Lutherans who believe that the Blessed Virgin had other children (contrary the teaching of the historic Church, including the Lutheran reformers), the Lutheran Confessions state clearly the belief that she was perpetually a virgin:

24] On account of this personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, bore not a mere man, but, as the angel [Gabriel] testifies, such a man as is truly the Son of the most high God, who showed His divine majesty even in His mother's womb, inasmuch as He was born of a virgin, with her virginity inviolate. *Therefore she is truly the mother of God, and nevertheless remained a virgin. *

bookofconcord.org/sd-person.php

Jon


#8

In the Jewish community in Jesus time it was the cultural and moral obligation of any sibling to take in their mother, should the one with which she lived, die. Jesus placed his mother in the care of John, who we know could not be Jesus' brother. Mary would have gone to one of Jesus' brothers or sisters, if there were any. This event, at the foot of the cross, is pretty much irrefutable evidence that Jesus had no siblings by blood, IMO.


#9

[quote="JonNC, post:7, topic:307745"]
One thing that must be said here. Lutheranism does not consider this an article of faith.

That said, I know of no major Lutheran theologian, from Luther on, that questioned her perpetual virginity, and yet there are American Lutherans who do. Walther even claims it to be beyond question.

While I do not condemn Lutherans who believe that the Blessed Virgin had other children (contrary the teaching of the historic Church, including the Lutheran reformers), the Lutheran Confessions state clearly the belief that she was perpetually a virgin:

bookofconcord.org/sd-person.php

Jon

[/quote]

Scripture, once separated from Tradition, can lead just about anywhere.


#10

Not to be a fly in the soup, but from the official LCMS webiste Q&A:

My husband and I recently went to see the movie, ‘The Passion.’ I was wondering who the man
was with Mary and Mary Magdalene. My husband believes it was Jesus' brother, James. My mother
and I were unaware that Jesus had a brother. Why isn't there more talk about Jesus' entire family, if it
is true that James was his brother?
A: Perhaps a couple of comments in response to your letter will be helpful. Based on my own viewing of
The Passion of the Christ, it is my understanding that the young man present on numerous occasions
with Mary and Mary Magdalene was the disciple John, the Beloved-who became the "son" of the
Mother of Jesus, and she his "Mother."
There are a number of "James" referred to in the New Testament, including one called "brother of the
Lord." He is listed first among the brothers of Jesus, presumably as the oldest of them (Matt. 13:55;
Mark 6:3). Most scholars think that he is the same person as the one simply referred to as James in the
book of Acts (12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Cor. 15:7) and in Galatians (2:9, 12). There has been some dispute
regarding the relationship between Jesus and James, the natural interpretation being that James was
the son of Mary and Joseph (thus a "half-brother" to Jesus). In the history of the Christian church, some
believing in the perpetual virginity of Mary developed the view that Jesus and James were foster
brothers, while others conjectured that they were cousins. LCMS theologians have found no difficulty
with the view that Mary and Joseph themselves together had other children, including James.


#11

[quote="batman1973, post:10, topic:307745"]
Not to be a fly in the soup, but from the official LCMS webiste Q&A:

[/quote]

I note that not one of those siblings was mentioned when Jesus remained behind in the Temple at age 12, none was invited to the wedding feast at Cana, and none was present at the crucifixion. Some family, huh? Or, could it just be that "brothers" (Like Abraham and Lot?) had a different meaning 2,000 years ago? :ehh:


#12

[quote="batman1973, post:10, topic:307745"]
Not to be a fly in the soup, but from the official LCMS webiste Q&A:

[/quote]

If the James mentioned in the book of Acts at the council wasindeed the Lord's brother, he must have had a miraculous conversion. Conspicuous by his absence at the cross, then leading a council. And yet, not one of the Gospel writers ever mentions this important conversion.

LCMS theologians have found no difficulty with the view that Mary and Joseph themselves together had other children, including James.

And this reflects the standard Lutheran practice of the PV being adiaphora. The fact remains that the history of Lutheranism has always been that the Blessed Virgin remained a virgin. There is no getting around this fact, or the fact that the Formula of Concord confirms her PV.

Jon


#13

[quote="JonNC, post:12, topic:307745"]
If the James mentioned in the book of Acts at the council wasindeed the Lord's brother, he must have had a miraculous conversion.

[/quote]

I note the conversion of Saul/Paul was achieved via an appearance....coulda worked twice:

1 Cor 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[a] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then** he appeared to James,** then to all the apostles,...

tis amazing what a bonafide resurrection can accomplish

Conspicuous by his absence at the cross, then leading a council. And yet, not one of the Gospel writers ever mentions this important conversion.

as opposed to the Gospel writers, Paul, and other NT authors and ECFs from the first two centuries who fail to mention Mary's perpetual virginity? At least opposition, absence, appearance and then apostleship establish James' conversion...nothing in the NT establishes Mary's alleged PV.


#14

[quote="akarmitage, post:1, topic:307745"]
II don't remember ever being taught that Jesus had siblings in the Disciple of Christ church. But my research after this conversation seems to reveal that many or most Protestant churches believe this.

[/quote]

At least in the Presbyterian and Baptist churches I grew up in, the assumption was that Mary and Joseph had other children after the birth of Christ.

"Incidentally, perhaps it should be noted in passing that although Jesus, James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon were all of the same household and all had Mary as their mother, Mary's husband Joseph was the physical father of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, but not of Jesus, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35). Thus, technically speaking, Jesus and his "brothers" were "half-brothers," since they only shared the same mother, but it would certainly be understandable for those in Nazareth who personally knew of the family to regard the five sons as "brothers." opc.org/qa.html?question_id=19&pfriendly=Y&ret=L3FhLmh0bWw%2FcXVlc3Rpb25faWQ9MTk%3D

The quote below refers only to brothers, but scripture also points out that Christ had sisters, too.

"Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" (Matthew 13:55-56)."

I don't remember this ever being made a "big deal" of in sermons or Sunday school classes, but then I also don't recall anyone ever suggesting that the words brothers and sisters actually meant cousins or some other relationship.


#15

Yes, and here is why they are wrong:

Explaining the “Brothers” of Jesus

Because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ and his disciples) had a special word meaning “cousin,” speakers of those languages could use either the word for “brother” or a circumlocution, such as “the son of my uncle.” But circumlocutions are clumsy, so the Jews often used “brother.”

The writers of the New Testament were brought up using the Aramaic equivalent of “brothers” to mean both cousins and sons of the same father—plus other relatives and even non-relatives. When they wrote in Greek, they did the same thing the translators of the Septuagint did. (The Septuagint was the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible; it was translated by Hellenistic Jews a century or two before Christ’s birth and was the version of the Bible from which most of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are taken.)

In the Septuagint the Hebrew word that includes both brothers and cousins was translated as adelphos, which in Greek usually has the narrow meaning that the English “brother” has. Unlike Hebrew or Aramaic, Greek has a separate word for cousin, anepsios, but the translators of the Septuagint used adelphos, even for true cousins.

You might say they transliterated instead of translated, importing the Jewish idiom into the Greek Bible. They took an exact equivalent of the Hebrew word for “brother” and did not use* adelphos* in one place (for sons of the same parents), and anepsios in another (for cousins). This same usage was employed by the writers of the New Testament and passed into English translations of the Bible. To determine what “brethren” or “brother” or “sister” means in any one verse, we have to look at the context. When we do that, we see that insuperable problems arise if we assume that Mary had children other than Jesus.


#16

[quote="Robertanthony, post:5, topic:307745"]
Why is Mary's perpetual virginity such a big deal? I understand Jesus was an only child, but what if he hadn't been? How would that change God's salvation plan? I admit it's a little startling when you hear Christians casually refer to Jesus' brothers as if it were a well-established fact.

[/quote]

Why the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is Important
From catholic.com/thisrock/2005/0512sbs.asp

OBJECTOR: I still don’t see why the Church requires Catholics to believe that Mary remained a virgin instead of allowing them to have their own opinions. Does it really matter if Mary had other children?

CATHOLIC: Actually, it does matter. Every doctrine about Mary tells us something about Christ or something about ourselves or the Church. Mary’s perpetual virginity demonstrates her purity of heart and total love for God. In 388, St. Ambrose of Milan wrote that Mary’s virginity was "so great an example of material virtue" because it demonstrated her total devotion to Jesus. In Mary, we see an example of the purity our own hearts must have in total dedication to God. Her virginity also tells us something about the Church, which, like Mary, is both mother to the faithful and "pure bride to her one husband" (2 Cor. 11:2).


#17

Brothers of Jesus, Not Sons of Mary**
**
Many non-Catholics deny the Perpetual Virginity of Mary by referring to passages of scripture that mention the “brothers” of Jesus. A rigorous analysis of scripture, however, proves their position is false. Consider the following:

1. Jesus had a “brother” named James.


"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?”(Matthew 13:55)
* *
2. James, the Lord's “brother”, is an apostle.


“Then, after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:18-19)

3. There are two apostles named James.


“When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”(Luke 6:13-16)
* *
4. One James (the brother of John) is not the uterine brother of Jesus; his father is Zebedee.


James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder)” (Mark 3:17)
* *
5. The other apostle named James is not the uterine brother of Jesus; his father is Alpheus.


“And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter and Andrew his brother, and James and John and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew and James the son of Alpheus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” (Luke 6:13-16)

6. Therefore, neither apostle named James was a uterine brother of Jesus.

7. The man named Joseph (or Joses) is not the uterine brother of Jesus; his mother is Mary and his brother is James. Therefore, this Mary is the wife of Alphaeus.


“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.” (Matthew 27:55-56)

8. Judas is not a uterine brother of Jesus because he is the son of James.


“When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.” (Acts 1:13)

  1. While Matthew 15:35 declares James, Joseph and Judas to be the “brothers” of Jesus, it has been demonstrated from scripture that they are NOT uterine brothers of the Lord. From this, it is apparent that scripture must be using the term “brothers” to mean relatives other than sons of Mary.

#18

=Radical;10112811]I note the conversion of Saul/Paul was achieved via an appearance…coulda worked twice:

1 Cor 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[a] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then** he appeared to James,** then to all the apostles,…

tis amazing what a bonafide resurrection can accomplish

Of course it could have, but the Saul/Paul conversion is reported. Why not an important event like James?

as opposed to the Gospel writers, Paul, and other NT authors and ECFs from the first two centuries who fail to mention Mary’s perpetual virginity? At least opposition, absence, appearance and then apostleship establish James’ conversion…nothing in the NT establishes Mary’s alleged PV.

Precisely why in Lutheranism it is adiaphora. That said, again, the history of the Church is the belief that the Blessed Virgin had PV. That’s not enough to make it de fide, but certainly enough to hold it as a pious opinion.

Jon


#19

[quote="Radical, post:13, topic:307745"]
nothing in the NT establishes Mary's alleged PV.

[/quote]

Nor does anything in the NT prove that Mary did not remain ever virgin. However, history provides more detail.

Protoevangelium of James

An important historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James, which was written probably less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many.

According to the world-renowned patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: "The principal aim of the whole writing Protoevangelium of James] *is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ" (*Patrology, 1:120–1).

To begin with, the Protoevangelium records that when Mary’s birth was prophesied, her mother, St. Anne, vowed that she would devote the child to the service of the Lord, as Samuel had been by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). Mary would thus serve the Lord at the Temple, as women had for centuries (1 Sam. 2:22), and as Anna the prophetess did at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:36–37). A life of continual, devoted service to the Lord at the Temple meant that Mary would not be able to live the ordinary life of a child-rearing mother. Rather, she was vowed to a life of perpetual virginity.

However, due to considerations of ceremonial cleanliness, it was eventually necessary for Mary, a consecrated "virgin of the Lord," to have a guardian or protector who would respect her vow of virginity. Thus, according to the Protoevangelium, Joseph, an elderly widower who already had children, was chosen to be her spouse. (This would also explain why Joseph was apparently dead by the time of Jesus’ adult ministry, since he does not appear during it in the gospels, and since Mary is entrusted to John, rather than to her husband Joseph, at the crucifixion).

According to the Protoevangelium, Joseph was required to regard Mary’s vow of virginity with the utmost respect. The gravity of his responsibility as the guardian of a virgin was indicated by the fact that, when she was discovered to be with child, he had to answer to the Temple authorities, who thought him guilty of defiling a virgin of the Lord. Mary was also accused of having forsaken the Lord by breaking her vow. Keeping this in mind, it is an incredible insult to the Blessed Virgin to say that she broke her vow by bearing children other than her Lord and God, who was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Early Protestants on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

“Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb…This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that.”

“Christ…was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him…I am inclined to agree with those who declare that 'brothers' really mean 'cousins' here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers.”

“A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ…Scripture does not say or indicate that she later lost her virginity.”

“Scripture does not say or indicate that she later lost her virginity…When Matthew says that Joseph did not know Mary carnally until she had brought forth her son, it does not follow that he knew her subsequently; on the contrary, it means that he never did know her…This babble…is without justification…he has neither noticed nor paid any attention to either Scripture or the common idiom.”

John Calvin (1509-1564)

[FONT=Arial]Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ's 'brothers' are sometimes mentioned. {Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. 2 / From Calvin's Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, p.215; on Matthew 13:55}

[On Matt 1:25:] The inference he [Helvidius] drew from it was, that Mary remained a virgin no longer than till her first birth, and that afterwards she had other children by her husband . . . No just and well-grounded inference can be drawn from these words . . . as to what took place after the birth of Christ. He is called 'first-born'; but it is for the sole purpose of informing us that he was born of a virgin . . . What took place afterwards the historian does not inform us . . . No man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation. {Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 107}

Under the word 'brethren' the Hebrews include all cousins and other relations, whatever may be the degree of affinity.
{Pringle, ibid., vol. I, p. 283 / Commentary on John, (7:3) }

John Wesley (1703-1791)

“I believe...he [Jesus Christ] was born of the blessed Virgin, who, as well after as shebrought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin.”
[/FONT]


#20

God takes on a human nature to free man from death, this death is the fallen state of sin. Then why would Jesus choose one in a fallen state of sin to redeem sin? There’s no answer but God can do whatever he wills. Or there is an answer and Mary was free of Spot and Stain thus Immaculate.


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