Could Jesus have had actual brothers and sisters?

Today’s reading at Mass indicated to the effect after Jesus had performed miracles that several around asked, “…Isn’t this Jesus, the carpenter’s son, and aren’t his brothers and sisters…?” (and it went on to name them)
I’m wondering what the Church’s position on that is. Perhaps it’s the language of the day where they were really referring to other relatives such as cousins?
I’ve only heard it spoken of in a homily once a long time ago, but it had not been a definitive answer as I recall.
Thanks.

No He could not have. It is required belief for Catholics that Mary was perpetually virgin, that is that she was a virgin before, and remained a virgin after, the birth of Jesus. This has been constant Church teaching since the earliest days and was proclaimed dogma sometime in the 3rd century if memory serves.

We reaffirm this belief in the Mass every week - ‘… I ask the blessed Mary EVER virgin, all the angels and saints …’ - and other prayers of the Mass also refer to her frequently as ever-virgin.

So whatever you may or (sadly for whoever preached that ‘non-definitive’ homily) may not have been taught, for Him to have biological siblings would be an impossibility, as she was His only human parent and remaining a virgin all her life could not have had any other children.

Isn’t there one theory that Joseph had children in a prior marriage? I’m not saying I believe it, but it has been proposed.

As for Mary being his only “human” parent, that hardly precludes brothers and sisters. Step-brothers and step-sisters are brothers and sisters, in nearly every language.

My bad. I read ‘actual’ and took it to mean ‘biological’. Of course step-children, via Joseph, are a possibility. Although the ‘brothers’ are also named elsewhere in scripture, if memory serves, and other mothers or fathers are named for them, none of them are mentioned as being Joseph’s children.

Take a look at how the term ‘brother’ is used in Scripture. It can mean any close relative, or even a friend

That was clear in Paul’s writings

Galatians 1:18-19

18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days.
19 But I did not see any other of the Apostles, except for James the brother of the Lord.

Paul says he saw “James, the Brother of the Lord”

Well there were only 2 Apostles named ‘James’, James the son of Alpheus and James the son of Zebedee.

Now James the Son of Zebedee was killed prior in Acts 12, so the only Apostle named ‘James’ that Paul could have seen was James the son of Alpheus. That is the James who was bishop of Jerusalem.

So yes, James IS the brother of the Lord, just as we all are. But he wasn’t a biological sibling.

In the Genesis story of Abraham and Lot, they call each other “brothers” even though Abraham was Lot’s uncle! I believe I saw that in the languages of the day and time the only word they had for relatives was brothers or sisters (depending on the gender). Of course most non-catholic religions believe Mary was virgin only until she gave birth to Jesus and then she and Joseph had normal marital relations thereafter.

We also have the problem that comes up at the cross when Jesus turns over custody of his Mother to John the Beloved. If Jesus had brothers why would he have done THAT?

The tradition that St. Joseph was an older widower with children when he married the Virgin Mary can be found in the early second-century work, Protoevangelium of James, 9.

i find this tradition to be fairly credible, given John 6, where Jesus is identified as the son of Mary and Joseph. To me, this indicates that those familiar with Jesus were ignorant of his divine conception. Naturally, these people would consider other children of Joseph to be Jesus’ siblings.

Thank you, everyone! I surmised it was something like that, but it’s very helpful to get the biblical links for verification. Once again, this website proves to be worth it’s weight in gold!

Biological brothers no. In fact we have had quite a discussion in the non-Catholic Forum

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=346019

Hello All:

Sunday’s Gospel was much debated in a thread here on the Catholic Answers Forum called “Jesus Had Siblings?”. It is very informational and many contributed excellent posts to it touching on many angles such as the ones already brought up. No need to repost everything! There was much documentation, including Saint Jerome’s writings refuting the Protoevangelicum of James, that it was never proven to be written by James, and thus not accepted into the Bible. Not only was Mary Ever Virgin, but so was Joseph, and that is discussed at length in the thread.

We also discuss at length the identities of the “Brethren of the Lord”, and document for you clearly that they are Jesus’s first and second cousins, and their exact relationships to Him in the thread. It is very well written and documented, and besides the posts, many contributed links documenting their posts. So, enjoy!

Love,

Nevadagardener

A Nigerian priest told us that, in his home country, anyone from your town or village is considered a brother or sister. This is an ancient tradition in the language and culture - much the same as in biblical times. Also, in Aramaic, there is no word for “cousin”, thus many of the brothers and sisters referred to in scripture were likely cousins, just as in the case of Lot mentioned by LegoGE1947.

John Martignoni has a very good bit on this very subject. Here is a link to his “Two minute apologetics”, with the paragraph on the “brothers” of the Lord being about 2/3 of the way down the page.

biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute#12

This is just another way of believing what you want instead of what the bible teaches.

It is pretty clear that Joseph and Mary had other children because the bible tells us Jesus had brothers and sisters and names them. There is nothing inscripture to even indicate that Joseph was older than Mary or had been married before. That’s just conjecture brought about after some church leaders started the perpetual virgin story. It just isn’t biblical.

In letters of the early church, there appearsa description of James, the Lord’s brother, that says James looks exactly like Jesus, just as he would have come from the same womb.

Even the church believed Jesus had siblings until the third century when the idea that Mary should have remained a virgin came about.

Is this important to the Catholic faith? Not really. It doesn’t have anything to do with the gospel…just to satisfy what some wanted the gospel to say rather than what it actually says.

If you want to be part of those who believe just the parts of scripture they want to believe and ignore the rest, then you can believe whatever you want. As long as you have faith in the gospel you won’t have to worry about such distractions the church teaches.

JC

Rather, you must love the Lord God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind and all of your strength, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27-28). And, what is your authority to interpret scripture? Peter said that there is no private interpretation allowed (2 Peter 1:20). Next: Where does the bible teach that it is the sole rule of faith? It does not, so why do you teach that it is? Do you have any knowledge of the ancient languages in which scripture was written? Any knowledge of the culture? You completely dismiss what Paul wrote as to handing on teachings, either via the oral teaching, or letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15). You have no oral tradition, so your faith is incomplete. This is the fruits of the man-made Tradition of “sola scriptura”. The bible even tells you it is incomplete (Luke 3:18, John 20:30, John 20:25, Acts 2:40 and others).

The bible is blessed, but it is not all.

If you are truly Lutheran, why don’t you believe as Luther did about Mary? Strange.

To the Lutheran,
The Catholic Church follows the example of the Early Church Fathers, and the rendering and interpretations they left are most identical to both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Scripture has mentioned the “brethern” of the Lord, but has also mentioned who their parents were. Simon, James, and Jude were sons of Mary Cleopas; while, the other James and John were sons of Zebedee. Another way to account for the “brethern” of the Lord is the Orthodox rendering as “step brothers.” They assert the belief that St. Joseph was a widower and had had children with his previous wife, as such, his children would be considered as “brethern” of Our Lord.

What must be understood is that the word “brethern” is used to describe close relatives, such as aunts and uncle or cousins or step brothers and sisters. Brethern can also designate a national or ethnic relation, so you cannot take the literal meaning of brethern fully.

This is a matter of Doctrine as it attacks the Virginity of Our Blessed Mother, Mary. While protestants dissent, the sanctity of Mary is direct proof of Jesus power over sin, and His ability to make us transcedent to sexuality. Remember that in heaven there will be no giving and taking in marriage and Our Lady is his first fruit. She was “saved” by means of preservation from sin on His merrit, and as she was fully endowed with grace (at one point she held Him within her). This is a matter of faith as well, as it directly links us to the grace of Christ and is evidence of what He does for us, that is, He redeems, preserves, sanctifies, and exalts us through His grace and mercy. Blessed be God, Blessed be Jesus, Blessed be the Holy Spirit, Blessed be the great Theotokos, Blessed be God in his angels and saints!

If it is so clear, why did the founder of your church [Luther] not see it? Do you know what Luther taught regarding Mary?

In letters of the early church, there appearsa description of James, the Lord’s brother, that says James looks exactly like Jesus, just as he would have come from the same womb.

List a Source or an example that supports you… ?

Even the church believed Jesus had siblings until the third century when the idea that Mary should have remained a virgin came about.

Again … Source / proof ??

Is this important to the Catholic faith? Not really. It doesn’t have anything to do with the gospel…just to satisfy what some wanted the gospel to say rather than what it actually says.

Why is this [the certainty of a sexual act between Mary and Joseph culminating in the conception of a child] so important to you?

If you want to be part of those who believe just the parts of scripture they want to believe and ignore the rest, then you can believe whatever you want. As long as you have faith in the gospel you won’t have to worry about such distractions the church teaches.

JC

No, we just need to worry with regard to the distractions taught by a host of mini-popes [everyone who reads the scriptures and defines their own personal interpretation], plus the distractions spread by the fractured protesting Christians who can agree upon no "Truth"and new age free thinkers like yourself … :shrug:

Here is Martin Luther on the Mary as the Mother of God with the claim of reliance upon the testimony of St. Paul …

Luther wrote … “St. Paul says 'God sent his Son born of a woman, ’ These words which I hold for true, really sustain quite firmly that Mary is the Mother of God.” from Martin Luther’s Works, vol 7, pg 592 [Note: bolding mine]

On the Perpetual Virginity of Mary …

Luther wrote … “It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of our Lord and still a virgin.” Martin Luther’s Works, vol 11, pg 319

Again Luther wrote “…knew that she was to become the Mother of the Son of God, she did not wish to become the mother of the son of man, but remained in that gift.” and this … “Undoubtedly, there is no one so powerful that, depending on his own intelligence, without Scripture, he would maintain that she did not remain a virgin.” Martin Luther’s Works, vol 11, pg 320 [Note: bolding mine] :smiley:

I suggest that it is hard to be perpetually a Virgin and also give birth to siblings for Jesus :rolleyes:

Here is what Luther said about Mary’s Assumption into heaven … " There can be no doubt that the Virgin Mary is in Heaven. How it happened we do not know." Martin Luther’s Works, vol 10, pg 268 :thumbsup:

So exactly how Lutheran are you in your beliefs … and what do you think about your founders take on the Mother of Jesus? …

Amen! It is quite clear that the demon has influenced many, present company excepted, into attacking all that is Holy, just for the sake of being against the revealed truth. We merely observe the symptoms of it.

In our Asian culture, cousins are referred to as “cousin brothers” and “cousin sisters”.

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