Jesus' Siblings: A Bone of Contention for Catholics

Why the discovery of the bone box of 'James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus' may trouble Catholics.


09/24/2005 05:40:40 PM

Why do people have such a difficult time believing that Mary and Joseph had children after Christ? It is a direct commandment of God to be fruitful and multiply. Not a suggestion. Not, "Well if you get around to it." A COMMANDMENT!!! Do you really think God went, "Oh yes, that commandment is for everyone else on the planet but you Mary. You are never to have sex or raise any other kids up in the Gospel." I don't know about your God, but it doesn't sound like something my God would do. My God is consistent. My God doesn't play tricks. My God doesn't tell one person one thing and someone else another. His will is the same for all of us, how that gets resolved is up to us, but the his overall will does not change. What is that will? The salvation of his people. Of course Mary, didn't remain a virgin after her first pregnancy, it would directly against the commandments of God. And she would never do that.


07/25/2005 04:58:47 PM

As others have already stated, to imply that singleness is more holy than marriage is to really denigrate an institution God's ordained. He even compares His relationship with the church with that of a married man and wife. Besides, to discuss Mary as if she were more holy or worthy than anyone else misses the point of the virgin birth altogether. Mary was devout, and followed God for sure but her example showed us that God can still use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. Don't keep your eyes on Mary - keep your eyes on the One she worshipped.


11/07/2002 03:00:01 AM

Our Society is so sex based that we have an easier time beleiving in a vigin birth than a marriage without sex. How funny is that. Any mortal couple could in theory do the second but I doubt they could do the first. All the fathers are unanimous in the virgin birth all the art in teh catacombs reger to mary as ever virginal teh icons in teh early chruch do the same even the reformers thought this but in today's day and age sex is more powerful than miracles.


11/07/2002 02:55:37 AM

The Protoevangelium of James was written around 120 ADand would reflect many popular oral traditions of the time so it is historically valuable and may contain many truths most scholars say it was a Christian document and not agnostic one but since many of the stories were of legend rather than testimony it was not Canonical. The popular theory and I beleive Eusebius testifies to this is that Saint Luke himself interviewed Mary herself for his Gospel . That makes sense it contains informationonly she could have known. The dialogue between her and Gabriel and Elizabeth and the story of a young Jesus in the Temple.


11/07/2002 02:54:43 AM

Mary having sex with Joseph would be no big deal but remeber she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit and once an wife in Jesish culture goes to another she cannot have relations to her former spouse. Its a Deuterocanonical law that was still in effect in those times. Plus the ark of the covenant typeology would seem to preclude the ark Mary ever being touched by sinful man. I am sure josep knew of these things. Besised thisisn't exactly a regular marriage. How many times does your wife get knocked up by the holy spirit and beget God. The last thing on my mind would be sex when I was watching God in diapers.


10/27/2002 09:29:34 PM

Some general comments about this topic: To see that it is more spiritual or godly for Mary to have remained a virgin is misguided. Sex in marriage is a good gift of God. Paul writes regarding sex in marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:3ff, " The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that..." Sex in marriage is a good thing to be enjoyed. Married partners should be looking to each others interests and not depriving each other. I'd like to think that Mary and Joseph as a godly loving couple did this also. I wonder if the idea of Mary's perpetual virginity was subtley influenced by gnosticism which teaches that the flesh is evil. Anyone know more about that?


10/27/2002 09:21:52 PM

I need to reply to BudlongBrown who stated, "If the Didache is correct, Joseph was a widower in his 30s or 40s who had older children...I can accept that 1st century text much better than all of the post-Reformation speculation." To begin with, the Didache may actually date late 2nd century. Besides that it does not mention anything whatsoever about Joseph or Mary. You are probably referring to the 'Protoevangelium of James' which states something about Joseph being an older widower with other children. Most scholars date this document as being from the 2nd century or early 3rd. However, this is not a reliable document for many reasons. I haven't read it for a while but as I recall it gets many of the details about Jesus' birth wrong. It says Jesus was born in a cave in the desert. It also states that when Herod wanted to kill Jesus, Elizabeth prayed and the mountain enclosed around the cave to conceal their whereabouts. I think you'll find the gospels say something quite different.


10/25/2002 12:40:02 PM

In addition to James being mentioned as Jesus' brother, Joseph (Joses), Simon, and Judas are also mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Since many Scripture scholars believe the Greek word adelphos and adelphe can also mean nephew, niece, cousin, half-brother, and half-sister among Greek-speaking Jews, we need to look elsewhere in Scripture. The accounts of the women at the cross and at the grave of Jesus talk about another Mary who was not Mary, the mother of Jesus, but was the mother of these "brothers and sisters" of Jesus. See John 19:25, Mark 15:40-41, Mark 16:1, and Luke 24:10. Although one could say this other Mary, the mother of James and Joses was also Mary, the mother of Jesus, from the context she is a different person (otherwise, they would have called her the mother of Jesus as Luke and John did in other places). If she was Mary's cousin, which is quite possible, then this would make James and Joses and the others cousins, not blood brothers.


10/24/2002 03:22:47 AM

Eastern Orthodox Christians reconcile the discrepancy by affirming that Joseph had children by a previous marriage; these would have been Jesus' step-siblings nominally, if not biologically. This view is not incompatible with Catholic teaching, but is not widely held by Catholics. Some Catholics refer to Mark 6:3, where Jesus is called the "son of Mary"--not, as would be expected, the "son of Joseph." That Jesus is called "son of Mary," they say, supports the Catholic belief that Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and that Joseph was a foster-father entrusted with Jesus' care. When it comes to interpreting the NT, I defer a great amount to the Greek Orthodox and the non-canonical gospels which support this theory. If the Didache is correct, Joseph was a widower in his 30s or 40s who had older children when he was betrothed to Mary, a temple virgin. I can accept that 1st century text much better than all of the post-Reformation speculation


10/24/2002 03:22:37 AM

But let's be honest people, does it really matter to our own lives if Mary was sexually active or not? Are you really going to stand and the pearly gates and have to explain to Jesus that your fixation with his mother's sexuality was really anything more than malicious gossip? "Well, Lord, your momma wore army boots" might be bad start to your judgment day. Whether she was a virgin or not, let's at least accept that she was Jesus' mother and that he held both of his parents in great esteem, as evidenced by his statements on the commandment to honor your parents.


10/23/2002 09:58:57 AM

i cannot understand why people would be so quick to accept the miracle of Christ's incarnation, but be so closeminded to the logical following through of virginal birth and virginal life. Because the beliefs about Mary's perfection, virginal life and assumption are not ones that come from scripture, but are beliefs that devloped later in church history. I do not believe that people must believe that Mary remained a virgin for life and was sinless (especially since scripture makes it pretty clear that only Jesus was sinless) lest they hate her.


10/23/2002 09:58:51 AM

it just seems logical that the mother of God, no less, would dedicate her life to chastity After being taught that virginity is holier and more pleasing to God than marriage, chastity does sound logical for the mother of Jesus. But is this what really happened? The Bible indicates it did not --that Mary and Jospeh had the kind of marriage that God had intended for his creation, and were even blessed with more children. What could glorify God greater than this?


10/23/2002 03:38:41 AM

i am not troubled in the least by this discovery. it just seems logical that the mother of God, no less, would dedicate her life to chastity as many a common nun has done in her lifetime. and personally, i don't see Joseph standing in the way of that as he had to have been quite the man, himself to be entrusted with the worldly care of God. what i think is that people think too much in simplistic terms. Mary and Joseph were extraordinary people, mary more so perfect and near to God and spiritual enlightenment than any other person has been, nor will be. so perfect that she was assumed into heaven, body and soul. i cannot understand why people would be so quick to accept the miracle of Christ's incarnation, but be so closeminded to the logical following through of virginal birth and virginal life. it doesn't seem like such a big leap of faith because the impossible is possible with God.


10/22/2002 06:30:03 AM

Saint Jerome gave his opinion on the greek word adelphos his opinion was that it meant cousin but also indicated it also could include a step-brother type relationship. Greek and Aramaic didn't exact definitions for distinct familial relationships. Thus it became the majority opinion within the Western Church however the other opinion that the brothers of the Lord were Jospehs sons from a previous marriage have always been a valid opinion and still the mjority belief in Eastern Catholic Churches and Eastern Orthodox churches. The important thing is Mary is Virgin not that Joseph had other children.


10/22/2002 06:29:58 AM

Laura Sheahen writes in her column: "If the ossuary is genuine, Catholics may be troubled by evidence corroborating scriptural accounts that Mary gave birth to additional children--including James, the "brother of the Lord." As a practicing Roman Catholic, I am not at all troubled by that evidence nor the thought that Mary and Joseph had normal marital relationships. Who was there to say otherwise?? The Synth who has no problem stating that marital relationships are sacred, holy, pure (in the eyes of God, anyway) and a helluva lot of fun ; )


10/22/2002 06:29:52 AM

Its funny the same Christians don't accept carbon dating of the earth saying its million years old but hey this bone box is accurate. Besides let's give you guys the benefit of the doubt this box is the real deal Joseph is James father So? It doesn't say James is the son of Mary. Its that is what is important . Mary is forever vigin that is Catholic dogma and truth held fo 2,000 years no one til the anabaptist 100 years after the reformation denied this. Not the reformers Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Cramner.


10/22/2002 04:47:12 AM

I believe that Jesus is not only the Son of God Christ; He is also God, our Savior and Lord. This is a staggering, almost incomprehensible truth: God Himself has come in the Person of His only Son. The incarnation and the full deity of Jesus are the cornerstones of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ was not just a great teacher or a holy religious leader. He is God Himself in human flesh, fully God and fully man. The questions about Jesus having brothers, sisters, cousins or other family members are not relevant as we acknowledge the salvation offered in Jesus Christ.


10/22/2002 03:43:52 AM

It is you and your ecclesiastical community's humble opinion that is less than 500 years old, whlie it is my Church's Truth that has existed for 2,000 years now. If it was not for the Catholic Church in Christ(St Jerome collected the texts) you would not have your Bible today and would'nt be able to limit God's power to one book. From the beginning Christianity has always taught Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition together 50/50. You sound so ignorant when you say "Mary Worship". I guest the Archangel Gabriel was "Mary worshiping" when this is stated in the Bible: And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. Luke 1: 26-56


10/21/2002 10:44:32 PM

It is my humble opinion that this is one more reason that Catholics are lead to believe what their liturgical tradition says and not the Bible. If I remember correctly, in each of the gospels, Jesus' siblings are referred to. Mary was just a normal pious woman with an extraordinary son. In fact, some would argue that Mary and Joseph were not following God's commandments to enjoy their marriage later by consumating it. Please, stop the "Mary worship"...