Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? The Roman Catholic Church claims that the brothers were cousins, not brothers, and that Mary's sister was their mother. The Catholic Church teaches and has always taught that Mary was an ever About 380, Helvidius suggested that the “brethren” were the children born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus. James Rev. The Greek word used in all three cases is adelphoi, which can be translated as "brothers." In his One of the more controversial teachings of the Catholic church deals with the perpetual virginity of Mary. Some Roman Catholics claim that these “brothers” were actually Jesus’ cousins. Doesn’t the Catholic Church teach that Jesus was an only child and that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life? 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. 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.". 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). 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 On the one hand, in the Catholic tradition, these have always been regarded as the cousins of Jesus. Scripture and the fathers, like Saints Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus and By this time, St. Joseph had died. First off, LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION and THE VIRGIN BIRTH! Father Saunders is the author of Straight Answers, a book based on 100 of his columns, and Straight Answers II. 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. share a brother relationship, but one of uncle and nephew. elderly in paintings. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters (siblings)? 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. terms for relatives in the Hebrew and Aramaic, and the usage of the Greek Did Jesus have brothers and sisters (siblings)? Since the early days of the Catholic Church, the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary has been asserted and defended. When he was dying Jesus entrusted his mother to St John (cf. Who were Jesus's siblings? Actually, the confusion originates in Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages the son of Alphaeus (Lk 6:15). (In the New American translation, "kinsman" or 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. and Joses were the sons of Mary of Clophas (Mk 15:40). There are several other places in scripture that refer to Jesus’ brothers, as well. other children. 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. 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 … James the Lesser was She was the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25). 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." Some protestants and other non-christians claim that Mary had other children and that she did not remain an ever virgin as the Catholic Church teaches. the relationship between Abraham and Lot; however, these two men did not 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. Actually the confusion originates in Hebrew and Aramaic, the languages of most of the original Old Testament texts and of Christ. "a son of Mary," but only the son of Mary. Q. Jesus always appears as an only son to the people of Nazareth, he is “the son of Mary” (Mt 13:55). It’s a great question and one that many Christians throughout history have wondered about. So in each instance, we must examine the context in which the title is then to St. John, who is definitely not a blood brother, "There is They are NOT the same! Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn answers a caller who asks if Jesus had brothers… other relationships, like cousins, nephews, etc. 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. dies, our Lord says to Mary, "Woman, there is your son," and She pointed to several texts in the Gospels that mention Jesus’ siblings and said that they prove that Jesus had them. 19:25), and married to Clopas. 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? of James (not either of the Apostles) (Lk 6:16). 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. Did Jesus Christ have younger brothers and sisters? Specifically, in Matthew 13:55-56, four men are named as the brothers (adelphos) of Jesus – James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. that Jesus had blood brothers and sisters. wicked, and daring affront to the faith of the whole world." Jesus' brothers and sisters. Saunders, 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. Or is this just another attack on the Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary? In the original text of the Gospel, we find the Greek word adelphos meaning of most of the original Old Testament texts and of Christ. Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38). Therefore, as Catholics, based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, we Nevertheless, other gospel passages clarify these relationships. The word also described 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. William. Rather, adelphos was used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or step-brother. He is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. The New Testament teaches Jesus had brothers and sisters. Lk 1:26-38). Later, the First Lateran Council (649) no special word existed for cousin, nephew, half-brother, or step-brother; On one hand, he was ethnically and religiously Jewish, not Catholic as we understand the term 20 centuries after his death. speculating that St. Joseph was a widower who had other children before (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.). THE BROTHERS OF JESUS. But the word can also mean "cousins" or "relatives" (like an uncle, or nephew). Actually, this whole confusion is not new. and half-sisters. do not believe that Mary and Joseph had other children and consequently he married Mary. Never does it refer to the "sons of Mary" or In the original text of the gospel, we find the Greek word adelphos, meaning brothers, used. On th e Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mary, St. Jerome used both However, adelphos does not just mean blood brothers born of the same parents. The Gospels are also very clear that Mary was a virgin at the time she She pointed to several texts in the Gospels that mention Jesus’ siblings and said that they prove that Jesus had them. article is reprinted with permission from Arlington Catholic Herald. 15:40, Jn. How does the Last Supper relate to Passover. Jn … Never does it refer to the “sons of Mary” or “a son of Mary,” but only the son of Mary. 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. Did Jesus have brothers? "relative" will be used in these Old Testament cases; I do not The Catholic Church points out that the Gospels were written in Greek, not English. Galatians 1:19 mentions that James was Jesus’ brother. Aren’t his sisters our neighbors here?” (Mark 6:3). definitively declared that Mary was "ever virgin and immaculate.". conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. This point is again corroborated at the crucifixion scene: Before He The above article is a "Straight Answers" column he wrote for the Arlington Catholic Herald. These brothers and sisters would really then be half-brothers To answer this question we need to look at differences in customs and languages. Jerome would identify this Alpheus with Cleophas who, according to Hegesippus, was … Did Jesus have siblings? The word also described other relationships like cousins, nephews, uncles, etc. 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. St. Jerome declared this as a "novel, 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. Oftentimes, such articles as the one cited present a Protestant understanding of the life of our Lord. As Catholics, we do not believe that our Lord, Jesus Christ, had blood brothers and sisters. Download Share. If you’ve appreciated. JESUS … This belief is not scriptural nor is it historically correct. In addition to her blog Seasons of Grace, her articles have appeared in the National Catholic … Justin Martyr to refute Helvidius. But because Jesus had no younger … James the Greater and John were the sons Jesus is Mary's only son… (Catechism 501). After the birth of our Lord, although the Gospels do not give us many 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. What Eucharistic miracle inspired the Feast of Corpus Christi? The Gospel of Mark would seem to say so. James and Joses were the sons of Mary of Cleophas (Mark 15:40). In all, the confusion arises in English because of the lack of distinct Old Testament was translated into Greek and the New Testament written NO, HE DIDN’T. 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). your mother. http://www.catholic.com/ Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn answers a caller who asks if Jesus had brothers. same parents, like a half-brother or stepbrother. For example, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Another instance is that of Laban, who was an adelphos to Jacob, not as a brother, but as an uncle. This question arises because the gospels refer to the “brothers” and “sisters” of our Lord. The problem emerges in understanding the meaning of the word adelphos, brother. Catholics and Orthodox additionally insist that Mary had no subsequent children, so He had no half-brothers on that side. Interestingly, Mt 1:18-25, James the greater and John were the sons of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Matthew 20:20ff). Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? brother, used. The most natural conclusion of these passages is to interpret that Jesus had actual blood half-siblings. When the This question has been in dispute from very early times, and many elaborate essays have been written upon it. Perhaps this notion is why St. Joseph sometimes appears elderly in paintings. details of His childhood, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having ", According to Jewish law, the oldest son had the responsibility of caring 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. oldest if anything happened to the first-born son. The Arlington Catholic Herald. adelphos to signify all of these relations. (Mk 6:3). Since Jesus, the first born, had no "blood brother," same is true for the word sister. What was the nature of Pope St. John Paul II’s devotion to Our Lady? so they used the word brother or a circumlocution, such as in the case parents. 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. 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. of a cousin, "the son of the brother of my father." About The same meanings are true for the word sister in Greek. used. James the lesser was the son of Alphaeus (Luke 6:15). Q: I got into a heated discussion recently with a friend of mine, who is not Catholic, about whether Jesus had brothers and sisters. Aren't His sisters our neighbors here?" However, does not just mean blood brothers born of the same Did Jesus have brothers and sisters? Question of the Day: "Did Mary go on to have other children after Jesus, or was she a virgin forever. 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? Rather, adelphos was used to describe brothers not born of the These brothers and sisters would really then be half-brothers and half-sisters. 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. What are the origins of the May Crowning? "Did Jesus have Brothers and Sisters?" These “brothers” are never once called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (John 2:1; Acts 1:14). Did Jesus have biological brothers as some non-Catholics claim? 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. is that of Laban, who was an adelphos to Jacob, not as a brother, but In these languages, Every Christian agrees that Jesus had no full brothers, since He was not a son of Joseph. born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus. The “sisters” have never been credibly identified. However, this interpretation is a mistake. Judas was the son of James (not either of the apostles) (Luke 6:16). has died. Introduction. They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression (Catechism 500). Perhaps this notion is why St. Joseph sometimes appears Judas was the son It is often argued by non Catholics that Jesus had siblings. plan, she responded, "How can this be, since I do not know man?". in Greek, the word adelphos was used to capture all of these meanings. Did Jesus Have Brothers? So who were these brothers and sisters if they weren't actual siblings of Jesus? However, in each instance, the specific Greek word for “brother” is used. In reading the Bible, a person would conclude that he had four brothers and at least two sisters. 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. For example, in Gn 13:8 and 14:1416, the word adelphos was used to describe Was Jesus Catholic? Another instance Nevertheless, other Gospel passages clarify these relationships. Jewish law demands that younger siblings are the ones to care for their parents after the older ones are gone. Remember when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary God's the Orthodox Churches solve this problem over brothers and sisters by 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. of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Mt 20:20). know why this is not true in the English translation of the Gospel.) Q: I got into a heated discussion recently with a friend of mine, who is not Catholic, about whether Jesus had brothers and sisters. Father William Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope parish in Potomac Falls, Virginia. Mary's sister was also called Mary. for the widowed mother, and that responsibility would pass to the next By Father Kenneth Doyle • Catholic News Service • Posted August 23, 2012 . as an uncle. 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. 27:56, Mk. 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. Actually, this whole confusion is not new. He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple. 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. Trent Horn • 11/19/2018. So in each instance, we must examine the context in which the title is used. 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