17. The brothers of Jesus – revised



I found a interesting page about this issue in http://www.bibbia.it/I-fratelli-di-Gesu.htmlbibbia.it and decided to dedicate a post about it. 



Jesus was the firstborn

That Jesus had brothers and that he was the eldest son in the family nucleus composed of Joseph and Mary is explained in the first instance by the meaning of “firstborn” that we find in the Gospel of Luke 2:77.

7 and she gave birth to a son, her first-born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living-space.

if Luke new Jesus was tghe only son he would have writen  “her only son” like  he used in Luke 7:12 :

“12 Now when he was near the gate of the town there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople was with her.”

and Luke  8:42

42 because he had an only daughter about twelve years old, who was dying. And the crowds were almost stifling Jesus as he went

It is worth noting that the words recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew 1: 25 

25 he had not had intercourse with her when she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.”

this indicate that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary had a normal marriage relationship followed by birth of other children.
These brothers and sisters of Jesus at first did not recognize the nature of his mission. As we read in Mark 3:21

21 When his relations heard of this, they set out to take charge of him; they said, ‘He is out of his mind.”


About Jesus brothers in the New testament


Matthew 13:54-56 tells about brothers and sisters of Jesus:

“54 and, coming to his home town (ed. Nazarreth) , he taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude56 His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?’

Matthew probably got information from the elder Gospel of Mark 6:3:

3 This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James (ed: Giacomo in Italian, Jaque in French ) and Joset (ed.Josef) and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him.”

The brothers are also mentioned in John 7:5 where it says:

5 Not even his brothers had faith in him.”


Jesus brother James , later called theJust
Italian:Giacomo, French: Jacque, Ancient Greek :   Ἰάκωβος,   romanized:  Iakōbos )

Mark 3:21 tells: “When his relations heard of this, they set out to take charge of him; they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'”

And John tells in John 7:5: “Not even his brothers had faith in him.

In Francoise Chandernagor “Vie de Jude frére de Jesus,” Jude tells about a rebellious James, who led by the sisters, was gelous about Jesus the firstborn, In her roman, Jesus 19 years old, had a fight with James after their fathers dead. Jacque sought mother Marys protection.

After the resurrection, his brothers, and especially James, clearly changed their position: we meet them, in fact, in Acts 1:14 gathered in prayer together with their mother Mary, the twelve apostles and an unspecified number of women who were you are following Christ:

” With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”

About the epistle of James www.catholic.org says:

“The author is commonly identified with the Lord’s brother, the Bishop of Jerusalem …
Internal evidence (contents of the Epistle, its style, address, date, and place of composition) points unmistakably to James, the Lord’s brother, the Bishop of Jerusalem, as the author” (read more in https://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=6248 )


Paul about James

According to Paul when he affirms About Jesus, in the first letter to Corinthians 15: 7  “then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles.”

It was probably this experience that led him to conversion along with the rest of his family.
James became as mentioned abovethe Bishop of Jerusalem. The observation of Paul regarding his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion is significant. He says he saw no other of the Apostles except James the Lord’s brother Galatians 1: 18-19

18 Only after three years did I go up to Jerusalem to meet Cephas. I stayed fifteen days with him 19 but did not set eyes on any of the rest of the apostles, only James, the Lord’s brother.”

 and for Paul, this meeting must have been extremely important because it gave him the opportunity to learn about the life of Jesus directly from someone who had known him very closely.

James chapter 1 begins with

1 From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion…..”.

The chapters like the epistle above are traditionally attributed to “James the brother of Jesus”


Jesus brother Judas, 

Judas appears simply as the brother of James, who was one of the greatest exponents of the church of Jerusalem and author of the epistle of the same name. In this case Judas would be another brother of Jesus, in fact among the brothers of the Lord, besides James, a certain Judas is also mentioned in Matthew 13:55:

The historian and writer Francoise Chandernagor dedicated her wonderful roman “La vie de Jude, frère de Jesus p” to Judas as being grown up by Mary and Jesus when Jesus was 19 and Joseph was dead.

Mark 6:3 says:

3 This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him.

Jesus brother Simon

Not muxch is known abour Simon. But Robert Eisenman suggests he was Simon Cephas (Simon the Rock), known in Greek as Peter (from petros = rock) (Source: Eisenman, Robert (2007), “James the Brother of Jesus” (Watkins)) 


A time of contradiction

To protect Marys perpetual virginity and mother of God dogma the church has always supported the idea that the brothers of Jesus as mentioned in the New testament , were halphbrothers of Jesus, that means the sons of Joseph and Jopsephs previous wife. “The Catholic Church made the perpetual virgin idea a dogma  “because of the sanctity that virginity is supposed to impart.” (Source: Jw.org)

Despite the info in catholic.org we still read at Catholic Mass “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God” (Source; http://www.vatican.va  )




Would Mary have forgotten her only only 12 year old children a whole day?

 “That Mary had other children also seems indicated by the incident that occurred when Jesus was twelve years old and Joseph took his family to Jerusalem for the festival. On the way back they had traveled a whole day before Mary noticed that Jesus was not with them. Had Jesus been her only child (and miraculously conceived at that), could we imagine her maternal instincts being so dormant that she would have started out without him and not missed him for a whole day?(Source https://wol.jw.org )

But if by this time she had six or more children by Joseph, we can imagine her having been so busy that she might not have missed Jesus for a whole day.​—Luke 2:41-50:

41 Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. 43 When the days of the feast were over and they set off home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. 44 They assumed he was somewhere in the party, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. 45 When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere. “

In1 Cor. 7:3-5.: The apostle Paul tells married people not to deprive each other of the marital due, which Mary would have done had she remained a virgin after bearing Jesus.​

I am a bit reluctant about the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity as a sign of Sanctity. I believe that Sanctity has nothing to do with your sexual life. You can be a saint and do good deeds even if you have children after intercourse.

I personally prefer the view that Jesus had both brothers and halfbrothers. Some of the brothers mentioned in the Gospells may have been halfbrothers. So Mary was a great women even if  Joseph and Mary had children after having had Jesus. Joseph as being elder, may have had children in a previous relationship. I also think that Joseph was elder and died earlier as we never read about him in after Jesus death like we did with Mary in Acts 1:14 .