Did Jesus have brothers? Article dealing with the question of whether Mary was always "the Virgin Mary."


I don’t think the precise relationship of James and John - where brothers or kin, affects the teachings of the Church.

When I bought a Knox Bible it has a booklet written by the Monsignor. One of the challenges with translation, he wrote, is the need for consistent use of certain words across a group of translators. Inherently it leads to less precise usage to prevent confusion.

I am far from being a Bible scholar but I think that changes in time and language may have led some to question something in a specific phrase that has no issue when seen in context.


Wait a minute – you’re really attempting to use a hapax legomenon, which doesn’t even appear in the Gospels that we’re discussing – to prove your point about words for familial relationships in the Gospels? :roll_eyes:

No… Luke, Matthew, Mark and John never used this term, ever. This actually strengthens my assertions and weakens yours! After all, if they had used the term, but chose not to use it here, then you would have something to claim here. Rather, it’s simply a term that’s not in the vocabulary of their writing. Ever. So… the use of ‘brother’ to mean something other than ‘uterine brother’ is actually more likely here.

Hang on a second. You can get away with a variety of mischaracterizations, but this one is just too bold.

First off, the Protoevangelium isn’t the source of the Catholic doctrine – the Church is. In fact, that document (which, although it is extracanonical, isn’t “non-Catholic”) was excluded from the canon, although it was highly regarded by early Christians.

Now, if you want to make the claim that the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary proceeds from the Protoevangelium, then let’s see the proof. Otherwise, your post hoc ergo propter hoc argument fails, being a logical fallacy.

Glad you see that ‘mother’ doesn’t always mean ‘uterine mother’. Oddly, though, you can’t see this with adelphos. Hmm… wonder why not? :thinking:

Really. Nice. Try.

When you asked why I don’t apply the same standard to James and John, and I point out the relevant Scripture passages that show that it’s a different kind of reference entirely… you reply “you apply different hermeneutical principles”? Really? I’m starting to think that this is a case of the eisegete calling the kettle black. Or… something. :rofl:


Hodos . . .

He is using the illustration of his actual mother and brothers and sisters by the flesh, and contrasting that with those who actually hear and obey God’s word.

These ARE actual brothers and sisters “by the flesh” in Hebrew parlance.

Cousins, second cousins, third cousins, fellow-tribesman, uncles, nephews, ARE “by the flesh”.

You DO understand that there is no ancient Hebrew word for cousins, etc. other than “brother” right?


Hodos . . .

As is anepsios, also used in the Bible when describing familial relationships not involving the same mother or father. Luke, Matthew, and Mark however, chose not to use this term in this context, as again, the context of the passage is showing the contrast between brother/sister in the natural sense, and adoption into the kingdom of heaven.

The problem with THAT Hodos, is it ASSUMES the “brothers” are cousins.

And it ASSUMES Gospel writers SHOULD put down something ELSE other than what was SAID in that Hebrew culture. (What if James and Joses were cousins, but Jude was a THIRD cousin? You are in essence . . . advocating that the Holy Spirit “inspire” ERROR!)

These are traditions you are following, but UNBIBLICAL traditions of men.


Another argument from silence which ignores the rest of the evidence in Matthew, Mark, and Luke already discussed. Again, you have no issue with adelphos being used in the familial sense where it doesn’t impact your doctrine.

Demonstrate this from the apostolic writings that this was the original teaching of the Church, otherwise, this is an unproven claim. I can demonstrate a non-apostolic document and point in time where this does creep into doctrine. That is far more evidence for my point than you have demonstrated in your answers thus far.

Answered already.


To tell you the truth, it doesn’t bother me if you believe that Jesus had brothers and sisters or not. The record is pretty clear he did. What is more concerning is that this assumed, yet unproven doctrine was declared a de fide dogma of the Church upon penalty of anathema. That is really what is at issue here.


The problem isn’t “adelphos being used in the familial sense”, and that’s not even the argument you’re making here! You keep implying that “familial sense” explicitly means “uterine sibling”… and it doesn’t. When we keep reminding you of that, suddenly it’s “eisegesis” and “argument from silence.” :roll_eyes:

‘Early Church Fathers’ is the usual approach. There’s no Apostolic writing authorizing individuals to go and protest and form their own ecclesial bodies, either. :wink:

And that’s the logical fallacy known as a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument.

Oh, we’re going there? OK… fair enough. Please define for me what the standard for authoritative declaration of doctrine is, in the Church? I seem to recall something about “taught by all for all time”. We can show that this is the case at least as early as Justin Martyr, and use Scriptural argumentation to back it up. On the other hand, you’ve got a second millennium understanding of the meaning of ‘brother’, as argued by folks who already had left the Church and started their own community. :man_shrugging:


Exactly, you are making an argument from silence. When the scriptures mention that Jesus mother and brothers and sisters did something, the obvious reading of the text is that they were indeed “uterine” siblings, particularly when no other mother is mentioned, when Matthew, and Luke have already made clear that Joseph and Mary were married, when Matthew says that Joseph did not know his wife until Jesus was born…when Mark, Matthew, and Luke demonstrate Jesus drawing a distinction between his blood relatives and those who are adopted into the kingdom of heaven…Feel free to provide any positive evidence of your conclusion. Haven’t seen you even attempt to do so yet.


Acts 4, there you go.


It isn’t a logical fallacy. The teaching is not in the apostolic documents (at least you haven’t demonstrated it). The Protoevangelium is the earliest document to suggest that Jesus brothers and sisters were from a different marriage (precisely what your apologetics refer to when refuting the scriptures), and was quoted by Jerome when the subject was under debate. Blame your own apologists if that is incorrect.


Wow. Amazing. Peter, who was given authority by Christ to lead the Church, tells the Jewish leadership that this is exactly what he’s going to do.

Who gave that authority to say that to the Church itself? Try again. :wink:

Re-read your assertion. You’re claiming that the Protoevangelium was written in the 2nd century, and then the doctrine appeared after that. That is literally the meaning of “after this, therefore because of this.” :roll_eyes:

You’re off by a good 75 years. The Scriptures make the claim, too. Read the accounts at the cross, and you’ll find relatives of Mary – that is, birth mothers to Jesus’ “brothers” – standing at the cross with her. :wink:


Interesting. [quote=“Gorgias, post:60, topic:530173”]
On the other hand, you’ve got a second millennium understanding of the meaning of ‘brother’, as argued by folks who already had left the Church and started their own community. :man_shrugging:

And yet you have no issue with every usage of brother where it is used in the sense I am speaking, except where it contradicts your doctrine. You can shrug all your want, but you have not demonstrated any hermeneutical defense.


No, not at all. We’ve got scores of references to “brothers” and “sisters” in the Bible. Sometimes they’re uterine siblings; sometimes, they’re cousins; sometimes, they’re fellow adherents to the faith. Now, who’s the person in this discussion who is insisting that one particular reference must mean “uterine sibling”, because it fits his doctrine (just coincidentally, I’m sure)? Hmm… let me think… :wink:


Hodos . . .

Have often heard this apologetic but it falls on its face when you read the entire passage/book.

No it doesn’t “Fall on its face”.

If you take at least two of the “brothers” and follow them through the other Gospels it almost certainly suggests they are mentioned in the context of their mothers being explicitly named.

And it is NOT the Blessed Virgin Mary!

If you want, you can read about it. Karl Keating breaks it down in Catholicism and Fundamentalism but it is too labor intensive for me to unpack here right now.

Also don’t you think that any of the native Greek-speaking Fathers would have picked up on your tradition?

WHY did THEY ALL miss it, but YOU get it right?

Do you see ANY problem with this Hodos in the way of arrogance? Or are THEY all wrong?

All Marian doctrines have Christologic implications.

What does DENYING the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary mean concerning Jesus?

Do you think if there were eight other kids running around in the yard, do you think that helps AFFIRM or DETRACT from the Virginal conception and birth narrative? The early Church era heretic Cerenthus agreed with you on this point Hodos.


Hodos . . .

To tell you the truth, it doesn’t bother me if you believe that Jesus had brothers and sisters or not. The record is pretty clear he did.

Sure it does.

I think your actions speak louder than words. I think it does bother you.

“The record is pretty clear he did” ONLY in a Hebrew sense. I have no problem with that.

I have a BIG problem with ADDING to Sacred Scripture and pretending that this means something not stated in Scripture.


Hodos from post 47 . . . .

Have often heard this apologetic but it falls on its face when you read the entire passage/book. When you look at Matthew 12:46-50, or Mark 3:31-35, or Luke 8:19-21

OK. Let’s look at Matthew 12:46-50 (You DO understand that Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21 is the same story as Matthew 12:46 and following right? They are merely a synoptic account of the same story).

stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my . . . . my brethren!

(It doesn’t sound like Jesus thinks “brethren” ONLY means uterine brothers Hodos.
Certainly YOU don’t think all “his disciples” were Jesus’ uterine “brethren” or “brothers” do you??)

Here is the rest of the rest of the passage . . .

MATTHEW 12:46-50 46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?” 49 And
stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brethren!
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

This supports a BROAD use of “brethren”, not a narrow use!

A narrow use would be the “eisegetical reading of the text” Hodos.
A narrow use-ONLY of brethren could only be asserted in these verses if you ASSUMED a tradition of men, then proverbially threw your tradition into the passage.

Jesus puts His hand towards MANY people and calls them His “BROTHERS” or “BRETHREN”.

By the way Hodos. Do you affirm “Justification by faith ALONE?”

Because if you do, it seems you are contradicting yourself by asserting
you become a “brother” of Jesus
by “whoever DOES the will of my Father in heaven” instead of by “faith ALONE”.


NOT MATTHEW 12:50 (but a phantom verse) 50 For whoever has faith ALONE is my brother, and sister, and mother.”


MATTHEW 12:50 50 For whoever DOES the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”


Matthew written in Aramaic uses the word “brother”, a broad term.
When translated to Greek, the Greek translator uses “adelphos”, either unwittingly thinking they are the same in both languages or not realizing they should have used a less broad term.

Peter being a Jew uses the broad Hebrew and Aramaic terms in his thinking of brother and when he tells Mark “adelphos” is the word they use in their discussions, and this is the word Mark uses in writing his gospel without considering that they might need to be more precise for the 20th and 21st centuries.
A second language is never learned with the same detail as a primary language - a much smaller vocabulary is sufficient usually. But we need to take that into account in our reading.

John Martin


Show us the Aramaic translation and demonstrate that the Aramaic preceded the Greek. I often hear an appeal to this Aramaic translation when the Greek doesn’t meet someone’s doctrinal bias but I have never seen one produced.


Show me a Greek version from the first century - you can’t, none exist.
The earliest fragment of Mark’s gospel, earliest of any NT text, is about 200 AD.
Matthew’s earliest Greek manuscript is about 250 AD. So, what is your proof that any of the New Testament was originally in Greek?

Whether written in Aramaic or in Greek, Matthew did not speak Greek as his first language, but Aramaic and Hebrew - my reasoning holds either way, that he did not consider there might be a different word for “cousin”, especially if not living in a greek society - immersed in familial greek culture.
One might argue that Luke, a greek physician, would know the difference - yes he would, but he was told all the events of Jesus life by those who would not be thinking in greek familial structures, but in Aramaic and Hebrew structures.


And yours is a 4th to 5th Century Coptic/Syriac known translation from the Greek. You are the one making the claim not supported by scripture. The burden of proof is on you.

Also, whether Matthew’s first language was Aramaic or Greek is irrelevant. The gospel was written in Greek, his word choice was in Greek, for the purpose of communicating his gospel. Making up theoretical arguments that Matthew himself (or whoever the author of Matthew was) didn’t communicate in the medium that he selected is again making an argument from silence.

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