Step brothers and sisters of Jesus


#1

Does the Church give any credence to the Protoevangelium of James in which it states that Joseph had other children before marrying Mary. It would mean he was a widower and quite a bit older than Mary which might also account for why Joseph seemed to have probably died before Jesus’ public ministry. Apart from brothers and sisters meaning cousins it could be that the gospels’ reference are to step brothers and sisters of Jesus. It would explain Jesus having brothers and sisters while Mary remained ever virgin.


#2

The Protoevangelium is not part of the canon.

The Church has made no pronouncement on Joseph being a widower before he married Mary, although certainly (as with the tradition of the names of Mary’s parents being Anne and Joachim, for example) there are many Catholics who have heard of these “stories” and who accept them as true.

But the CHURCH does not accept these stories as true. They are not part of the deposit of the faith.

There are many other reasons for there being mention of “brothers” and “sisters” of Christ (cousins, for example, in the extended family patterns that were part of Jewish culture and tradition of the time). Thus, there is no NEED whatsoever to make Joseph into a widower who married again. Though it is presumed with far greater likelihood that Joseph died prior to Jesus’s ministry (which began at age 30), Joseph could have been 20 years old when he married Mary, dying at age 50–which, in an era where the average life span was considerably less than it is today, would have been probably not at all out of the ordinary.


#3

[quote=Tantum ergo]The Protoevangelium is not part of the canon.

The Church has made no pronouncement on Joseph being a widower before he married Mary, although certainly (as with the tradition of the names of Mary’s parents being Anne and Joachim, for example) there are many Catholics who have heard of these “stories” and who accept them as true.

But the CHURCH does not accept these stories as true. They are not part of the deposit of the faith.

There are many other reasons for there being mention of “brothers” and “sisters” of Christ (cousins, for example, in the extended family patterns that were part of Jewish culture and tradition of the time). Thus, there is no NEED whatsoever to make Joseph into a widower who married again. Though it is presumed with far greater likelihood that Joseph died prior to Jesus’s ministry (which began at age 30), Joseph could have been 20 years old when he married Mary, dying at age 50–which, in an era where the average life span was considerably less than it is today, would have been probably not at all out of the ordinary.
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I realise this paper is not part of Canon but I thought that there are still many papers and letters which are nevertheless favourably looked upon. I know the teaching of the Church is that Mary was a perpetual virgin and I accept that but does the Church definitively teach that the “brothers and sisters” are part of the extended family or only one possible explanation? Have they ruled out that they could have been step brothers and sisters?


#4

I think this topic is found both here in one of the Catholic Answers tracts, as well as on EWTN. I’ll check it out later today and see if I can find links, because I am pretty sure I remember recently seeing that, despite the Proto stories which include the one about Joseph’s rod blooming (taken from what happened to Aaron in Exodus, it appears) and “proving” that he, the widower, should be Mary’s husband (not to mention the same sources say that Mary was brought up in the Temple, not at her parent’s home, and that Mary was conceived not just immaculately but by her parents exchanging merely a KISS), as well as Jesus killing off baby birds and then bringing them back to life again, etc. . .that really the church teaching is that Joseph himself was a single man, just as virginal as Mary.

Again, I’ll try to get back to you later tonight with the links, but try checking out ewtn first if you like. . .

God bless.


#5

[quote=Tantum ergo]I think this topic is found both here in one of the Catholic Answers tracts, as well as on EWTN. I’ll check it out later today and see if I can find links, because I am pretty sure I remember recently seeing that, despite the Proto stories which include the one about Joseph’s rod blooming (taken from what happened to Aaron in Exodus, it appears) and “proving” that he, the widower, should be Mary’s husband (not to mention the same sources say that Mary was brought up in the Temple, not at her parent’s home, and that Mary was conceived not just immaculately but by her parents exchanging merely a KISS), as well as Jesus killing off baby birds and then bringing them back to life again, etc. . .that really the church teaching is that Joseph himself was a single man, just as virginal as Mary.

Again, I’ll try to get back to you later tonight with the links, but try checking out ewtn first if you like. . .

God bless.
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I’ll try ewtn but would still be interested in any links you come up with. Thanks.


#6

[quote=thistle]I’ll try ewtn but would still be interested in any links you come up with. Thanks.
[/quote]

All the EWTN question bins are full so I’m unable to ask anything.


#7

The Protoevangelium of James is mentioned in the article on “Apocrapha” in the online Catholic Encyclopedia. It is described there as an apocraphal Gospel of Catholic origin of the second century, which I take to mean it is a work of pious fiction by an early unknown Catholic author and that it doesn’t contain anything contrary to the Catholic faith.


#8

[quote=Todd Easton]The Protoevangelium of James is mentioned in the article on “Apocrapha” in the online Catholic Encyclopedia. It is described there as an apocraphal Gospel of Catholic origin of the second century, which I take to mean it is a work of pious fiction by an early unknown Catholic author and that it doesn’t contain anything contrary to the Catholic faith.
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Thanks. I’ve printed it out from there.


#9

Here’s a thought:

If Christ had other brothers or sisters (step or otherwise) why in the world would he assign the care of the Blessed Virgin to the young apostle John? The simple answer is the orthodox answer. He didn’t have blood siblings.

Secondly, in many cultures, the friends of parents are known to the family and addressed as Uncle or Aunt. Good friends are referred to as cousins.

in XT.


#10

[quote=AquinasXVI]Here’s a thought:

If Christ had other brothers or sisters (step or otherwise) why in the world would he assign the care of the Blessed Virgin to the young apostle John? The simple answer is the orthodox answer. He didn’t have blood siblings.

Secondly, in many cultures, the friends of parents are known to the family and addressed as Uncle or Aunt. Good friends are referred to as cousins.

in XT.
[/quote]

I fully accept the Church teaching that Jesus had no blood siblings, and that its a very good argument too that if he had then he would have entrusted Mary to them and certainly I would have expected blood siblings to be there at his death.
My question is simply is it the Church’s official teaching that the references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus means cousins or other parts of the extended family or is the Church saying that is one possible explanation and not ruling in or out the possibility that it could have been step brothers and sisters.


#11

[quote=thistle]I fully accept the Church teaching that Jesus had no blood siblings, and that its a very good argument too that if he had then he would have entrusted Mary to them and certainly I would have expected blood siblings to be there at his death.
My question is simply is it the Church’s official teaching that the references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus means cousins or other parts of the extended family or is the Church saying that is one possible explanation and not ruling in or out the possibility that it could have been step brothers and sisters.
[/quote]

It is my understanding that the Orthodox Churches favor the tradition presented in the Protoevangelium of James that Joseph was a widower with children when he married Mary and it is these children of Joseph’s previous marriage who are mentioned in the Bible as the brothers and sisters of Jesus; the Catholic Church, following St. Jerome, favors the tradition that those mentioned in the Bible as brothers and sisters of Jesus are actually Jesus’ cousins.


#12

[quote=Todd Easton]It is my understanding that the Orthodox Churches favor the tradition presented in the Protoevangelium of James that Joseph was a widower with children when he married Mary and it is these children of Joseph’s previous marriage who are mentioned in the Bible as the brothers and sisters of Jesus; the Catholic Church, following St. Jerome, favors the tradition that those mentioned in the Bible as brothers and sisters of Jesus are actually Jesus’ cousins.
[/quote]

Its interesting at least that neither tradition contradicts the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity so whichever it was doesn’t really matter. It could even have been a combination of both.


#13

[quote=thistle]Does the Church give any credence to the Protoevangelium of James in which it states that Joseph had other children before marrying Mary. It would mean he was a widower and quite a bit older than Mary which might also account for why Joseph seemed to have probably died before Jesus’ public ministry. Apart from brothers and sisters meaning cousins it could be that the gospels’ reference are to step brothers and sisters of Jesus. It would explain Jesus having brothers and sisters while Mary remained ever virgin.
[/quote]

The earliest Christian that seems to have addressed this question was Papias (AD 70-155) who was a listener of St. John and St. Polycarp. He advances the belief that the ‘brothers and sisters’ of Jesus were relatives (some were cousins). Here is a fragment from one his writings:

ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.vii.ii.x.html


#14

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