Luke 24:10


Hi all, this is my first post here. I hope to relieve some of the burdens on the local priests by getting some scripture questions answered here.

“The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles” -Lk 24:10

I understand this may be a common misunderstanding, but is James Christ’s biological brother, or is he not? Why does the church teach that Mary did not have other children besides Christ?



James was not blood related to Christ. The Church teaches this because Mary’s perpetual virginity is universally attested by the Church Fathers, and it is a part of Sacred Tradition.


Ok, but why?


The doctrine of Mary’s PV has been passed down orally to us from the Apostles.


I know what the doctrine is, but it seems problematic from my point of view. Some of the other scripture passages seem to indicate that James was indeed Christ’s blood brother. Why would the church fathers claim Mary’s perpetual Virginity in spite of scripture?


He was Joseph’s son. Joseph was a widow, and much older than Mary.


The James you are thinking of was possibly the cousin of Jesus.

In the first century Hebrew/Aramaic language used at the time there was no word for “cousin” or “nephew.” There was just one generic term used for anyone who was related to you. When the Gospels were edited or translated into koine Greek, there was no way to discern what type of kin was being spoken of, so they just used the same word “brother” or “sister” even though the Greek word did not embrace all the terse Hebrew did. Cousins of Jesus were referred to as “brother” or “sister” because that was the word used in the Jewish culture of the era.

It is similar to a “problem” one finds when they learn Spanish. There are no words for any of the desserts. Cakes, pies, puddings, etc., are all “dessert.” Over the past decade new words have crept in, but for the most part one cannot tell from reading Spanish what a dessert is when one comes across the word. It can literally be anything sweet.


There is a great article on this site about this at


Ah, I see your confusion. The Greek word for brother, adelphos, used to describe James and Christ’s other apparent siblings, is a really broad term. To call someone you adelphos would just mean that they were a male in a close relationship with you –they could be a stepbrother, a friend, a cousin, a co-religionist, etc.


Mary’s womb was the vessel that brought Christ into the world. It is essential that her virginity remain perpetually intact - before, during, and after the birth of Christ. The dignity of her station as the Mother of God dictates that her womb remain perpetually stainless - this is only fitting of womb which bore God the Son. Her perpetual virginity is related to her title as Theotokos (God-bearer), her Immaculate Conception and to her Assumption. Her perpetual purity is essential to everything that the Church teaches about the Blessed Virgin because of what it tells us about Christ. The womb from which he came was not ordinary - it was and will always be spotless, as it brought forth the one who is and will always be spotless. The perpetual virginity of the Blessed Mother is one of the four major Marian doctrines held by the Church to be divinely revealed. As others have stated, when Scripture speaks of Christs brothers, we must take this to mean cousins (this is supported the Church’s divinely revealed theology of the Blessed Virgin, as well as how the word for cousin/nephew/brother is interchangeable).


Someone else said James was one of Joseph’s children from a previous marriage and that his first wife had died. I know this is one of the theories out there but doesn’t the Church actually teach the entire Holy Family was virginal? Jesus, Joseph and Mary?


No, the Church does not teach that St Joseph was perpetually virginal, though that doctrine appears in the writings of some Fathers.


How did the Church Fathers explain the perpetual virginity of Mary? by Jimmy Akin


The Church Fathers proclaim Mary’s PV, in spite of Scripture, not on the authority of Scripture but on the authority of the Church. This was done via Church councils, same with the definition of the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, Mary as Mother of God, among others.

Scriptures are subject to different interpretations.


I really like what Christus_Vincit is saying here. There is a lot there, and I would like to begin discussing some of those ideas, because I am not yet truely convinced. I would also mention that these questions come about from my practice of the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary, and I hope to eventually be able to accept the doctrines of Mary.

Firstly, the fathers seem to have this idea that Mary would become defiled if she had sex with her husband, Joseph. This makes no sense to me. I was under the impression that sex is perfectly legitimate if done within marriage. How is it that Mary would become impure if she had sex with her husband after the Virgin birth?


Mary had no children apart from Jesus.
Even Martin Luther and the other founders of Protestantism agreed with that and documented it.


And what is their rationale? From my point of view scripture suggests that Mary had other sons.


If you’re considering the argument from a scriptural “brother” term point of view, this isn’t too bad: (I borrowed this from somewhere so if someone recognizes it and want citation, holler)

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)

  1. 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)

  1. 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)

  1. 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)

  1. 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)

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

  2. 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)

  1. 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.

Here’s a link to a Tim Staples scriptural presentation too:

Hope you find something helpful


Here is a more practical solution to your dilemma: There is strong evidence that Mary was consecrated to God as a virgin by her mother Anne. This would have been a lifelong commitment, taken seriously by the Jewish people. To break ones vow of virginity would have had dire consequences. Joseph was Mary’s protector, but never would have had intercourse with Mary as she was was to remain always a virgin.

Also, just a bit of advice: You say that “from my point of view Scripture suggests that Mary had other sons.” This is an unhealthy approach to interpreting Scripture. We have the Magisterium of the Church to guide us in this endeavor. Hundreds of years of Tradition, dating back to the earliest days of the Church, hold and teach definitively that Mary remained perpetually a Virgin before, during, and after Christ’s birth. It would be wise to approach this issue from the standpoint of: “The Church has spoken infallibly on this matter - so what am I missing?”, rather than “My own interpretation suggests that the Church is wrong on this matter”.

Lastly - you must remember that Mary was not ordinary. She was preserved from sin, and she bore the Son of God in her womb. It is insulting to the Blessed Mother to make the claim that she would engage in sexual intercourse which would result in the conception of a child born with Original Sin.

You may ask “isn’t the marital act a good thing?” or “if Joseph and Mary were really married, wouldn’t it be expected or required that they engage in the marital act?”. Yes - the marital act is good. But no - Mary’s case if different. She bore the Son of God. Her womb was sanctified and elevated above any other womb - and she would never have thought or desired in any way to engage in sexual intercourse at any point in her life and most definitely not after giving birth to Jesus Christ.


You may want to re-read the posts that were placed here - particularly the one that denotes the general indication of all desserts in Spainish are known as dessert.

You see, in the language of Jesus, in his time, brothers indicated more then just blood kin, it indicated cousins, co-religionists, ect.

It is that simple. To not be convinced otherwise is an indication of obstinance, which is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

I am not accusing you of the blasphemy, but if you overlook the well put posts already placed here, it indicates to me that you are sore in understanding, and require gentle attention - which you will not find on a computer.

So I say to the person with the OP - Open up to the priests and love the poor.

And to those who might of said things that did not go over well I suggest the bibical reading from mid-afternoon prayer today in the LOTH - it is from the Book of Daniel:

“Atone for your sins by good deeds, and for your misdeeds by kindness to the poor; then your prosperity will be long.” (Dan 4:24)

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