Jesus and siblings?

This is a question that has made me ponder over it for some time…

Theologians claim that Scripture said Jesus had ‘‘Brothers and sisters’’ because there was no word for ‘‘cousin’’ in Greek. However, in Luke 1:36, it says ‘‘And behold thy **cousin **Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren’’

If the word ‘‘cousin’’ is used here, why not for Matthew 12:47?

Cousin in Greek, yes. In Aramaic, no. A good perspective on this is to read the Book of Tobit. In it, we see that a man married his “sister” - although she was only a distant relative from the same tribe of the twelve tribes.

Our Lord could have had “foster half siblings” from Saint Joseph, but there is no definitive teaching on this.

Not only does the Catholic Church believe Mary was a perpetual virgin but also the founders of Protestantism (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin) believed this. Additionally John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary.

I am therefore really curious as to who these theologians are that disagree!

I wrote this up in relation to the “siblings” way back when:

In essence, there are 3 explanations of the “brothers”:

1). They were our LORD’s younger half-brothers by Mary and Joseph (the Protestant interpretation).

2). They were older sons of S. Joseph by an earlier marriage (stepbrothers to our LORD).

3). They were our LORD’s cousins, the Aramaic words for that and for “brother” being the same.

As Catholics, we reject version 1, as inconsistent with the perpetual virginity of Mary.

But although most Catholics hold to version 3 (and some EOs to version 2), either 2 or 3 is acceptable to Catholic theology.



The word in the Greek is suggenes which simple means kinswoman or relative.

Which is what the RSVCE says:

Luke 1:36Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.

Here is a good link explaining this…

I don’t want to get slammed for this, so I will try to say it as politely as possible. In reality, what difference does it make if Jesus had siblings or not?

Outside of Mary’s virginity, I also don’t see how this matters - if Jesus had step siblings or cousins that were referred to as brothers and sisters. He made the point quite clear:

Jesus and His Family.
His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers* [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
[For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark, chapter 3

If he had or did not have step siblings through St. Joseph not much, if the Theotokos did not remain a virgin it makes a rather more significant difference though.

Only that the same authority which proclaims the faith, which wrote and canonized scriptures has also declared that Mary is perpetually virgin. Tear the cloth and it all unravels.

But, consider: Mary was betrothed, preparing for marriage. She knew how children were created (“knowledge of man”) in the carnal sense. With all of this in mind, she dared to ask Gabriel exactly how this Christ-child was to be conceived. See incongruity there?

We must also pay close attention to the words of Gabriel, as they are God’s words as expressed through His messenger. “You are to have a Son” (singular). What occurred? She did have that Son.

Look up brothers and sisters in the scriptures and you will see that entire communities, entire tribes of Israel are brothers and sisters. Those of the same geographic area are especially known as brothers and sisters. If you are in a labor union, what do you call the others? That’s correct: brothers and sisters.

Further, she declared herself to be the “handmaid” or “bond slave” of the Lord - her own Child! Whom else could she serve? As well, the recently concocted “brothers and sisters” canard forces a 19th-21st century template over first century Judaism and Hebraic culture.

Let’s turn this argument around on you: So what if Jesus was not God’s Son? He was a great teacher and left the world a wonderful legacy. He’s right up there with Buddha, Plato, Aristotle and the others.

Jesus IS the son of God. What’s your point?

How do you know this?

John 1 (obviously, there are other places in scripture that tell of this)

So, who exactly is going to do that genealogical chart, and deal with the millions of people who will claim to be directly descended from the Holy Family? :eek:

What a nightmare that would be,
In Scripture nor in any other theological discourse there is no mention of future generations of the Holy family and what their possible role would be.

Christ pegged us all as brothers and sisters in Christ. In the spiritual sense.

Jesus didn’t come to establish a monarchy.

Really? I don’t think there will be several thrones in Heaven.
There is only one King of Kings.

Actually Christ did, one of Christs major roles was a a King.

Well, under Jewish law, Mary would have had to be cared for by the other children…but Jesus gave her care over to saint John, the only apostle not to be martyred.

Plus, her spiritual spouse is the holy spirit. And as she is the new ARK of the Covenant…touching her in a marital way…

Joseph was a legal father to Jesus and husband to Mary, but did not touch her, as she was Holy

My point! Where does John claim that his writing is inspired? For that matter, where does any of the NT claim to be inspired? Bearing in mind that there were something like 50-100 “Gospels” at the time the canon was argued, which should be in the NT and which excluded? I mean the bible is not on stone tablets. Someone here on earth, in authority, had to do all of this.

And that is why you believe the bible to be true and that is why Mary is taught and believed to be virgin to this day.

Did it make a difference whether the Ark of the Covenant was handled with reverence, that it wasn’t used to carry just anything, that there were specific instructions in how it should be carried? Would it make a difference whether or not the ancient Jews opened the curtain and just let anyone in as they pleased?

I don’t claim that Joseph or marital relations are impure, of course, but we should recognize that some things are set apart for God. Mary was sanctified at her conception and prepared to be the earthly dwelling place of God. She was set aside for God, her body literally formed and nurtured God-become-flesh within her womb. She was made Holy, in a way more direct and tangible than either the Ark of the Covenant or the Temple, which had very, very specific directions for handling in order to properly revere and honor them as holy and places where God rested. All of that thinking is not just thrown out and discarded. They were not pointless. Mary’s perpetual virginity as a doctrine is not only true, but also preserves the reverence and veneration due to the places, things and persons that God has made Holy by His mere presence and set apart for Himself. The Divine was literally and fully present within her (in the person of Jesus). The Divine, man! As people who grow up hearing these stories, I think we can become too easily acquainted with and casual about such things.

But not as the founder of a royal succession.


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