Expert Opinion - Does Christ Have Any Brothers or Sisters?
Throughout history various Christian Theologians have debated over the thought of Jesus having brothers and sisters.
Scripture does make reference to the siblings of Jesus Christ
Theologians debate of the exact meaning of the Greek word used to describe the sibling relationship.
The question on if Jesus had brothers and sisters has been a controversial issue throughout the history of theology. It is basically a two fold question. The first part regards Jesus as the Son of God. On this aspect most all that follow Christian faith would agree that there is no documentation of an equal in the Heavenly realm. When looking merely at the Divine nature of Christ, He alone was the Son of God. Jesus is the second person in the Holy Trinity
Godhead, and the vessel in which God became incarnate to offer redemption to His lost people.
The controversy begins when addressing the earthly nature of Jesus. In the scripture there are four men that are referred to as "brothers" of Jesus. These references are mainly found in the books of St. Matthew and St. Mark. They are James, Joses, Simon, and Judas. There are various other scriptures that make reference to these men randomly, but there is only one that addresses them and the issue of sisters. This scripture is found in Mark, chapter 6; verse 3 which states; "is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?" Theology begins to part ways when looking at the Greek word used for brothers. It is that of "adelphos". This Greek word historically defines the relationship of brothers that are not of the same parents. This would be that of half-brothers or stepbrothers. In early documentations of Greek writings the word is also used to represent the relationships of cousins and nephews.
Basically there are three main thoughts regarding this question. Either these are biological siblings, half or step siblings, or cousins. The basic belief of Orthodox Theology is that St. Joseph was a widower before he married the Virgin Mary and that the children were his from a previous marriage. Protestant Theology regards them as either half-siblings or step siblings, and the main thought of the Roman Catholic Church is that there were no siblings of Jesus Christ
. They believe that the use of the word "adelphos" was used to represent cousins.
Scripture doesn't fully explain the nature of these relationships, but does cast some insight on the subject. At the crucifixion, Jesus leaves the Virgin Mary to the charge of St. John. Under Jewish tradition this would imply that there were no other siblings to look after the Mother of Christ. Under traditional Jewish Law the oldest living son is responsible for the mother if she is a widower. Many historians believe that St. Joseph had passed by this time, due to the fact that Jesus had asked St. John to do this. This insight would seem to rule out that there were any biological siblings of Jesus under Jewish Law. It doesn't rule out step siblings or cousins though. With the thought that St. Joseph had passed prior to the time of the crucifixion, and if the siblings were his due to a prior marriage then the Virgin Mary would not have any other biological sons to support her after the crucifixion of Jesus. With just the understanding of Jewish Law, and what little information is offered through scripture one would have to come to the conclusion that Jesus either had step siblings or that the word "adelphos" was used to describe cousins.
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Saunders, Fr. William. (2003) "Did Jesus Have Brothers and Sisters." Retrieved on June 5th, 2009 from
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Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2004