Brothers and Sisters of the Lord

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As you well know the Catholic Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin remained so throughout her life.

Some of our protestant brothers and sisters point to certain verses in the Gospels that mention the "Brothers and sisters" of the Lord. Or, "James, the brother of the Lord." They find in these compelling evidence against traditional Catholic teaching.

But something occurred to me the other day as I was thinking about this matter. It is by no means a conclusive piece of evidence, but it is certainly persuasive. If Jesus had brothers and sisters, or if His half-brother in the flesh were actually the James who was to head the synagogue in Jerusalem, why, on the Cross did He entrust His mother to the care of John?

If James really were his brother in the flesh and really was a follower and did lead the chief group of early Christians, would it not have made more sense to consign his Mother's livelihood to His own family?

Again, this is not compelling. But it is as persuasive as the arguments that refuse to consider the actual meaning of the terms in Aramaic.

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Perhaps James was not a follower of Jesus until after Jesus' death.

After all, Jesus would certainly have been the black sheep of the family -- even if he was married (which is unknown), he did not stay at home with his family and follow in his father's profession, but became a travelling rabbi with a raggle-taggle bunch of fishermen as followers.

Enough to embarrass any upright Jewish sibling.


I thought that simply put the term in Aramaic and/or Hebrew for brother/sister was the same as for cousin...just as mother/father was for aunt/uncle.

This might be a bit ambiguous by our standards, but I don't find it in any way a persuasive for the non-virginity (perpetual) of Mary. After all, if any modern reader *wants* to read into the text that Jesus was let's say married or even gay, then *they* will.

Dear mcmlxix,

It is not persuasive to one steeped in Catholic doctrine, and I didn't mean to suggest that it was (sorry if that's how it came off). However, when I was a Baptist, I often read these words as indicating that Jesus had brothers and sisters. This was just an additional point to address the matter.

Dear Talmida,

I could very well be wrong aboutthis because I haven't run to check, but isn't James, brother of the Lord listed in one of the various lists of disciples/apostles. I get all those James mixed up.



Mr. Riddle (I love that name by the way),

My impulse to comment had much less to do with your primary post. I myself am also not so steeped in Catholic least not any longer than the six years since I entered the Church at a notorious parish where the image of Jesus was as a raggle-taggle, hang-loose type of revolutionary that, well, just might have wore a Che t-shirt (etc, etc). So those particular hairs in my ears are rather fine-tuned.

I don't think so Stephen, at least not in the Gospels -- there's James son of Zebedee, and James son of Alphaeus. I'm pretty sure that James the brother of Jesus does show up later in the NT, although I wouldn't want to be quoted on that. ;)

Two notes to Talmida (whose blog is quite interesting and worthwhile, by the way)
1. however relatives may have reacted to Jesus, he had them, and wouldn't it be more likely than not in that culture that they would have a serious sense of obligation to care for Mary, if Jesus had said nothing? 2. it is intriguing that we often overlook that Jesus here also solemnly told Mary to look upon John as her son: another son, as are all her sons and daughters, that is the fruit of accepting a word from her Lord, "born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 4, 2005 5:00 PM.

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