James, brother of Jesus


#1

I know that in the Protoevangelium of James, Joseph is described as an older man, and more notably, a widower. Because of this, it could make sense for James and John to be Jesus' *step*brothers, and Joseph's sons from a previous marriage. Is this an acceptable Catholic opinion?


#2

Yes. This is a belief found in eastern iconography.


#3

[quote="Razanir, post:1, topic:348942"]
I know that in the Protoevangelium of James, Joseph is described as an older man, and more notably, a widower. Because of this, it could make sense for James and John to be Jesus' *step*brothers, and Joseph's sons from a previous marriage. Is this an acceptable Catholic opinion?

[/quote]

Step-brother is one possibility, but I think cousin is more accurate.


#4

The two explanations for the "brothers of the Lord" is that they were really Joseph's children from a previous marriage (Jesus's step brothers) or that they were the children of one of Mary's siblings (Jesus's cousins). I prefer the former. Both positions are supported by several Fathers and much of orthodoxy.


#5

James and John, the sons of Zebedee and Salome, are Jesus’ nephews. Salome is the daughter of Joseph.


#6

The only near-contemporaneous source would be Josephus. He calls James the brother of Jesus.

I think later sources were embellishing for lack of any more facts.


#7

That’s a view I haven’t heard before. Are there any Fathers who support this? Not trying to be snotty, I’m just curious.


#8

[quote="steve53, post:6, topic:348942"]
The only near-contemporaneous source would be Josephus. He calls James the brother of Jesus.

I think later sources were embellishing for lack of any more facts.

[/quote]

The word in Greek for brother, adelphos (Strong's word #80), can mean a range of male relatives, from cousin to step brother to even close friend or co-religionist.


#9

Theoretically possible but it doesn’t make sense to me. According to customs and traditions of those times step-children would take care of their step-mother.
As Jesus from the Cross entrusted Mary to John it would be highly unlikely Jesus had step brothers and sisters.


#10

I’ve just realised that the OP is confusing James, the brother of our Lord, with James the son of Zebedee.

James (adelphotheos) is the youngest of Joseph’s children and accompanied Joseph, Mary and the Christ child on their flight to Egypt.
johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/12/christ-child-in-egypt.html

I’m not aware of whether any Church Fathers have written on this, but this is the tradition of the Church.
I’m pretty sure you will gain a better understanding of Matthew 20:20-21 knowing that Salome is Jesus’ big sister. How else could she have had the ‘balls’ to make such a request of Jesus.

BTW, this tradition was apparently known in Florence in the mid 1200’s.
Here is a link to Giotto’s “flight into Egypt” lib-art.com/imgpainting/3/7/10673-the-flight-into-egypt-giotto-di-bondone.jpg


#11

Actually, I believe that Salome is Mary’s sister. I came to this belief (and by no means was this belief original with me) after comparing all the accounts of the crucifixion and comparing the lists of the women who were there.

With regard to James-the-brother-of-the-Lord, I go along with those who believe that he was a son from Joseph’s prior marriage. I am open to correction, but only from the man himself.


#12

Apart from a mention in the Protoevangelium of James there is no evidence that Joseph was married, had children, and widowed prior to marrying Mary.
The Church does not accept that document as inspired, and also I stick with my opinion that if Mary had step-children they would have been the ones to look after her upon the death of Jesus but Jesus entrusted her to John.
That is strong circumstantial evidence in my view that Jesus did not have step brothers and sisters.


#13

Then why would Josephus call James a brother of Jesus, then?

At the crucifixion, James might have been elsewhere, like home in Nazareth.
Jesus might well have been concerned that his mother get back to Nazareth safely. John was was at the crucifixion scene, James was not.

Salome was a common name in the hated Herod family. It was not likely that the common Jews would name their children Salome. How many common Jews names any sons “Herod?!”


#14

catholic.com/quickquestions/does-the-use-of-this-greek-word-for-sibling-indicate-that-jesus-had-brothers

catholic.com/tracts/brethren-of-the-lord

From scripture catholic:

Jesus’ “Brothers” (adelphoi)) = Cousins or Kinsmen

Luke 1:36 - Elizabeth is Mary’s kinswoman. Some Bibles translate kinswoman as “cousin,” but this is an improper translation because in Hebrew and Aramaic, there is no word for “cousin.”

Luke 22:32 - Jesus tells Peter to strengthen his “brethren.” In this case, we clearly see Jesus using “brethren” to refer to the other apostles, not his biological brothers.

Acts 1:12-15 - the gathering of Jesus’ “brothers” amounts to about 120. That is a lot of “brothers.” Brother means kinsmen in Hebrew.

Acts 7:26; 11:1; 13:15,38; 15:3,23,32; 28:17,21 - these are some of many other examples where “brethren” does not mean blood relations.

Rom. 9:3 - Paul uses “brethren” and “kinsmen” interchangeably. “Brothers” of Jesus does not prove Mary had other children.

Gen. 11:26-28 - Lot is Abraham’s nephew (“anepsios”) / Gen. 13:8; 14:14,16 - Lot is still called Abraham’s brother (adelphos") . This proves that, although a Greek word for cousin is “anepsios,” Scripture also uses “adelphos” to describe a cousin.

Gen. 29:15 - Laban calls Jacob is “brother” even though Jacob is his nephew. Again, this proves that brother means kinsmen or cousin.

Deut. 23:7; 1 Chron. 15:5-18; Jer. 34:9; Neh. 5:7 -“brethren” means kinsmen. Hebrew and Aramaic have no word for “cousin.”

2 Sam. 1:26; 1 Kings 9:13, 20:32 - here we see that “brethren” can even be one who is unrelated (no bloodline), such as a friend.

2 Kings 10:13-14 - King Ahaziah’s 42 “brethren” were really his kinsmen.

1 Chron. 23:21-22 - Eleazar’s daughters married their “brethren” who were really their cousins.

Neh. 4:14; 5:1,5,8,10,14 - these are more examples of “brothers” meaning “cousins” or “kinsmen.”

Tobit 5:11 - Tobit asks Azarias to identify himself and his people, but still calls him “brother.”

Amos 1: 9 - brotherhood can also mean an ally (where there is no bloodline).


#15

That tradition only existed with blood children. Since James and his brothers were not actual children of Mary, but step children, this tradition didn’t apply to them.


#16

It’s perfectly fine to hold the opinion that they were cousins. But, though the Protoevangelium isn’t inspired, it doesn’t logically follow that it’s definitely untrue. It was pointed to by many Fathers as a good “side narrative” of the Nativity and other events that aren’t in Scripture.

And it’s not just the Protoevangelium that says that Joseph was old or that the “brothers” were his sons from a previous marriage. It’s a strong tradition, particularly in the East. If you look at any ancient iconography of Joseph, it probably depicts him as an old man. This is how many scholars explain why Joseph is absent from Jesus’s public ministry- he probably died of old age before it began.


#17

That’s not what a Jewish poster said in another thread. I’ll try to search for it.


#18

The Protoevangelium is based on Tradition. Tradition is not based on the Protoevangelium.


#19

It is certainly not based on Tradition with a capital T because that would be Sacred Tradition(i.e. Apostolic Tradition).


#20

That doesn’t tell us anything, considering the whole debate surrounding the word “brother.” Unless we can get a source which says James is a son of Mary (rather than “brother of Jesus” or even “son of Joseph”) I’m afraid the issue will not get settled.

Salome was a common name in the hated Herod family. It was not likely that the common Jews would name their children Salome. How many common Jews names any sons “Herod?!”

You’re forgetting the Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra (76-67 BC). There are 917 excavated ossuaries (bone boxes) possessed by the state of Israel. Out of these ossuaries, 231 are inscribed with names. Of these there are only 72 different names - out of these, 16 names comprise a full 75 percent of the entire collection. Guess what the most frequent female name is: Salome (Shalom, Shelomzion) - appearing 26 times. Ṭal Ilan’s multi-volume Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity has the the most complete collection of Jewish names from different regions in Late Antiquity. The first volume focuses on Palestine in the period between 330 BC up to AD 200. In the volume, she identifies references to 2,826 people (of which only 317 were female). A total of 831 names were listed, many of which occur only once. Out of these, only 110 are women’s names. The ratio of names to persons is slightly lower for women (1 name for 3 women, or 100 names for every 288 women) than men (1 name between 3-4 men, or 100 names for every 348 men). Guess what the two most common female names were for that general period: variants of Salome(zion) and Maria(m)(me) (i.e. Mary). So I’d reverse your argument: the name is quite common among the Jews of the time, even among the Herods. It’s no coincidence that the names had Hasmonean connections: Salome(zion) Alexandra and Mariamne the Hasmonean (y’know, Herod the Great’s second wife).


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