About 380, Helvidius suggested that the “brethren” were the children born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus. so they used the word brother or a circumlocution, such as in the case Doesn’t the Catholic Church teach that Jesus was an only child and that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life? He is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. The Gospel of Mark would seem to say so. Jesus always appears as an only son to the people of Nazareth, he is “the son of Mary” (Mt 13:55). ", According to Jewish law, the oldest son had the responsibility of caring Its impartial discussion has been hindered by dogmatic considerations connected with the perpetual virginity of the Lord's mother, with denominational issues, and with the canonicity of non-Apostolic epistles. These brothers and sisters would really then be half-brothers and half-sisters. In the New American Bible’s English translation of the Gospel of St. Mark, we do indeed read about the crowd asking, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? After the birth of our Lord, although the Gospels do not give us many Differing opinions exist about the “brothers.” Some Catholic commentators think that Joseph was a widower and the “brothers” were thus stepbrothers; others maintain that they were children of the “other Mary,” who was present at the crucifixion (Mt. It is often argued by non Catholics that Jesus had siblings. that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. © 1996-2019 Catholic Education Resource Center | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Sitemap, CERC is an entirely reader-supported web site and non-profit charity. Mary's sister was also called Mary. A frequent error which arises from a literal interpretation of the Bible would lead to affirm erroneously that during his life on earth, Jesus had biological siblings, that is, Mary bore other children. Nevertheless, other Gospel passages clarify these relationships. brother, used. Or is this just another attack on the Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary? no special word existed for cousin, nephew, half-brother, or step-brother; is that of Laban, who was an adelphos to Jacob, not as a brother, but Did Jesus Have Brothers? Therefore, as Catholics, based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, we What are the origins of the May Crowning? For example, in Gn 13:8 and 14:1416, the word adelphos was used to describe Matthew 12:46 states, "While he [Jesus] was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him." As Catholics, we do not believe that our Lord, Jesus Christ, had blood brothers and sisters. (In the New American translation, "kinsman" or They are NOT the same! Mary of Cleophas is described in the Gospel of John as our Blessed Mother’s “sister” (John 20:25); obviously, she must have been a cousin, and James and Joses thereby cousins of our Lord. has died. When he was dying Jesus entrusted his mother to St John (cf. On the one hand, in the Catholic tradition, these have always been regarded as the cousins of Jesus. Old Testament was translated into Greek and the New Testament written Never does it refer to the "sons of Mary" or Mark tells about Jesus' mother and brothers looking for Jesus.A verse in the Epistle to the Galatians mentions seeing James, "the Lord's brother", and none other of the … JESUS … Jewish law demands that younger siblings are the ones to care for their parents after the older ones are gone. The gospels are also very clear that Mary was a virgin at the time she conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Aren’t his sisters our neighbors here?” (Mark 6:3). Some Roman Catholics claim that these “brothers” were actually Jesus’ cousins. other children. Nevertheless, other gospel passages clarify these relationships. This is a common question and one often used by non-Catholics to challenge our belief that Mary remained a virgin throughout her whole life. They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression (Catechism 500). However, adelphos does not just mean blood brothers born of the same parents. conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Perhaps this notion is why St. Joseph sometimes appears James the greater and John were the sons of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Matthew 20:20ff). Actually the confusion originates in Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages of most of the original Old Testament texts and of Christ. born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus. Never does it refer to the “sons of Mary” or “a son of Mary,” but only the son of Mary. Therefore, as Catholics, based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, we do not believe that Mary and Joseph had other children and consequently that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. The New Testament teaches Jesus had brothers and sisters. In his 19:25), and married to Clopas. 15:40, Jn. 27:56, Mk. Actually, this whole confusion is not new. Since Jesus, the first born, had no “blood brother,” He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple. In all, the confusion arises in English because of the lack of distinct article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald. used. Scripture and the fathers, like Saints Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus and Did Jesus have biological brothers as some non-Catholics claim? By this time, St. Joseph had died. The word also described Another instance On the other hand, however, his universal message and vision are reflected in both the very definition of the word catholic and in the church’s evangelizing, merciful mission. Who were Jesus's siblings? Q. On th e Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mary, St. Jerome used both dies, our Lord says to Mary, "Woman, there is your son," and Aren't His sisters our neighbors here?" NO, HE DIDN’T. he married Mary. The word also described other relationships like cousins, nephews, uncles, etc. Since Jesus, the first born, had no "blood brother," It’s a great question and one that many Christians throughout history have wondered about. For example in Genesis 13:8 and 14:14-16, the word adelphos was used to describe the relationship between Abraham and Lot; however, these two men did not share a blood brother relationship, but one of uncle and nephew. the relationship between Abraham and Lot; however, these two men did not Trent Horn • 11/19/2018. In the original text of the gospel, we find the Greek word adelphos, meaning brothers, used. St. Jerome declared this as a "novel, She was the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25). 380, Helvidius suggested that the "brethren" were the children Question of the Day: "Did Mary go on to have other children after Jesus, or was she a virgin forever. The problem emerges in understanding the meaning of the word adelphos, brother. adelphos to signify all of these relations. One of the more controversial teachings of the Catholic church deals with the perpetual virginity of Mary. But the word can also mean "cousins" or "relatives" (like an uncle, or nephew). In other words, they're not the children of Mary, so Catholic apologists will often point to a few key texts in the Bible to support the conclusion that the so-called brothers of Jesus are not actually children of Mary. The most natural conclusion of these passages is to interpret that Jesus had actual blood half-siblings. of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Mt 20:20). Arlington Catholic Herald. for the widowed mother, and that responsibility would pass to the next The same meanings are true for the word sister in Greek. In Mark, a crowd asks of Jesus, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are his sisters here with us?” (6:3). What Eucharistic miracle inspired the Feast of Corpus Christi? Q: I got into a heated discussion recently with a friend of mine, who is not Catholic, about whether Jesus had brothers and sisters. If you’ve appreciated. Jerome would identify this Alpheus with Cleophas who, according to Hegesippus, was … in Greek, the word adelphos was used to capture all of these meanings. Specifically, in Matthew 13:55-56, four men are named as the brothers (adelphos) of Jesus – James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. The Roman Catholic Church claims that the brothers were cousins, not brothers, and that Mary's sister was their mother. then to St. John, who is definitely not a blood brother, "There is Since the early days of the Catholic Church, the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary has been asserted and defended. The Greek word used in all three cases is adelphoi, which can be translated as "brothers." James and Joses were the sons of Mary of Cleophas (Mark 15:40). do not believe that Mary and Joseph had other children and consequently Therefore, as Catholics, based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, we do not believe that Mary and Joseph had other children and consequently that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters (siblings)? and Joses were the sons of Mary of Clophas (Mk 15:40). So in each instance, we must examine the context in which the title is used. A similar reference occurs earlier in Mark 3:31 — “His mother and brothers arrived….”, The problem emerges in understanding the meaning of the word brother. In reading the Bible, a person would conclude that he had four brothers and at least two sisters. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? Interestingly, He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple. Jn … However, Roman Catholics and some Orthodox churches believe those "brothers" and "sisters" mentioned in Scripture were not half-brothers at all, but step-brothers or cousins. Oftentimes, such articles as the one cited present a Protestant understanding of the life of our Lord. The “sisters” have never been credibly identified. oldest if anything happened to the first-born son. (In the New American translation, “kinsman” or “relative” will be used in these Old Testament cases; I do not know why this is not true in the English translation of the gospel.). So who were these brothers and sisters if they weren't actual siblings of Jesus? share a brother relationship, but one of uncle and nephew. In all, the confusion arises in English because of the lack of distinct terms for relatives in the Hebrew and Aramaic, and the usage of the Greek adelphos to signify all of these relations. The Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew mention James, Joseph/Joses, Judas/Jude and Simon as brothers of Jesus, the son of Mary.The same verses also mention unnamed sisters of Jesus. It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when reading through the Bible (and especially the Gospels) and the answer is not as straight-forward as it seems. The relevant verse is Luke 1:34: “How shall this be, seeing I do not know man.” These words of Mary to the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation show that Mary did not intend to have conjugal relations with a man; otherwise, Mary surely would have known that conjugal relations with Joseph, her husband, could cause a pregnancy. For example, in I Chronicles 23:21-22, the sons of Kish married their “sisters,” a literal translation of the text, but in reality they married their cousins. This But if you cross reference Matthew 13:55-56 with John 19:25, it says that at the cross were present the mother (the Blessed Virgin Mary) of Jesus, and her sister Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary of Magdala! Later, the First Lateran Council (649) definitively declared that Mary was “ever virgin and immaculate.”  Therefore, as Catholics, based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, we do not believe that Mary and Joseph had other children and consequently that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. At a Bible study group in our apartment complex, it was shared with those attending that Jesus had five siblings. James the lesser was the son of Alphaeus (Luke 6:15). On one hand, he was ethnically and religiously Jewish, not Catholic as we understand the term 20 centuries after his death. The Gospels are also very clear that Mary was a virgin at the time she James These “brothers” are never once called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (John 2:1; Acts 1:14). About These brothers and sisters would really then be half-brothers Galatians 1:19 mentions that James was Jesus’ brother. definitively declared that Mary was "ever virgin and immaculate.". How does the Last Supper relate to Passover. other relationships, like cousins, nephews, etc. To answer this question we need to look at differences in customs and languages. the Orthodox Churches solve this problem over brothers and sisters by Did Jesus Christ have younger brothers and sisters? The Catholic Church teaches and has always taught that Mary was an ever In the original text of the Gospel, we find the Greek word adelphos meaning Jesus' brothers and sisters. of James (not either of the Apostles) (Lk 6:16). know why this is not true in the English translation of the Gospel.) "Did Jesus have Brothers and Sisters?" When the Rather, adelphos was used to describe brothers not born of the Father Saunders is the author of Straight Answers, a book based on 100 of his columns, and Straight Answers II. By this time, St. Joseph Jesus may have acted like an only child at times in the gospels, but all of the four evangelists make some mention of his brothers and sisters. Saunders, She pointed to several texts in the Gospels that mention Jesus’ siblings and said that they prove that Jesus had them. Jesus is Mary's only son… (Catechism 501). Judas was the son There are several other places in scripture that refer to Jesus’ brothers, as well. same parents, like a half-brother or stepbrother. wicked, and daring affront to the faith of the whole world." Did Jesus have siblings? By Father Kenneth Doyle • Catholic News Service • Posted August 23, 2012 . elderly in paintings. of most of the original Old Testament texts and of Christ. The Catholic Church points out that the Gospels were written in Greek, not English. "relative" will be used in these Old Testament cases; I do not However, this interpretation is a mistake. Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn answers a caller who asks if Jesus had brothers… Rev. Introduction. Another instance is that of Laban, who was an adelphos to Jacob, not as a brother, but as an uncle. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? Remember when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary God’s plan, she responded, “How can this be since I do not know man?”  After the birth of our Lord, although the gospels do not give us many details of His childhood, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having other children. Was Jesus Catholic? Father William Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope parish in Potomac Falls, Virginia. terms for relatives in the Hebrew and Aramaic, and the usage of the Greek Actually, the confusion originates in Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages Interestingly, the Orthodox Churches solve this problem over brothers and sisters by speculating that St. Joseph was a widower who had other children before he married Mary. This question has been in dispute from very early times, and many elaborate essays have been written upon it. Is this true? http://www.catholic.com/ Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn answers a caller who asks if Jesus had brothers. Later, the First Lateran Council (649) In the New American Bible's English translation of the Gospel of St. Mark we do indeed read about the crowd asking, "Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? First off, LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION and THE VIRGIN BIRTH! However, in each instance, the specific Greek word for “brother” is used. So in each instance, we must examine the context in which the title is Mt 1:18-25, as an uncle. your mother. Download Share. James the Greater and John were the sons parents. Lk 1:26-38). Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? Every Christian agrees that Jesus had no full brothers, since He was not a son of Joseph. (Mk 6:3). same is true for the word sister. Q: I got into a heated discussion recently with a friend of mine, who is not Catholic, about whether Jesus had brothers and sisters. Did Jesus have brothers? Perhaps this notion is why St. Joseph sometimes appears elderly in paintings. Catholics and Orthodox additionally insist that Mary had no subsequent children, so He had no half-brothers on that side. speculating that St. Joseph was a widower who had other children before Judas was the son of James (not either of the apostles) (Luke 6:16). But because Jesus had no younger … William. The In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic … For example, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters (siblings)? James the Lesser was This question arises because the gospels refer to the “brothers” and “sisters” of our Lord. Remember when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary God's What was the nature of Pope St. John Paul II’s devotion to Our Lady? details of His childhood, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having In these languages, Justin Martyr to refute Helvidius. of a cousin, "the son of the brother of my father." "a son of Mary," but only the son of Mary. Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38). Ezekiel 44:2 "And he said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.". St. Jerome declared this as a “novel, wicked, and daring affront to the faith of the whole world.”  In his On the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mary, St. Jerome used both Scripture and the fathers like Saints Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus and Justin Martyr to refute Helvidius. In these languages, no special word existed for cousin, nephew or aunt, half-brother or half-sister, or step-brother or step-sister; so they used the word brother or a circumlocution, such as in the case of a cousin, “the son of the brother of my father.”  When the Old Testament was translated into Greek and the New Testament written in Greek, the word adelphos was used to capture all of these meanings for male relatives. This point is again corroborated at the crucifixion scene: Before He This doctrine maintains that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus and that biblical references suggesting Jesus had siblings are really references to cousins (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 510). the son of Alphaeus (Lk 6:15). This point is again corroborated at the crucifixion scene:  Before He dies, our Lord says to Mary, “Woman, there is your son,” and then to St. John, who is definitely not a blood brother, “There is your mother.”  According to Jewish law, the oldest son had the responsibility of caring for the widowed mother, and that responsibility would pass to the next oldest if anything happened to the first born son. This belief is not scriptural nor is it historically correct. Rather, adelphos was used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or step-brother. She pointed to several texts in the Gospels that mention Jesus’ siblings and said that they prove that Jesus had them. Least two sisters was she a virgin throughout her life would seem say... And religiously jewish, not as a `` Straight Answers II which can be translated as `` brothers ''! Gospels were written in Greek centuries after his death in the Gospels that mention Jesus siblings... 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