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Jesus’ Mother and Brothers in Mark

A brief tangent on Mark’s account of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown (Mark 6:1-6), as summarized in my post.  As I indicated there, Jesus’ townspeople are incredulous that he can deliver such an impressive address in the synagogue.  They ask: “Where did he get such these things?  What what is this wisdom that has been given to him?  And how can such miracles be worked through his hands?  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Juda and Simon?  And aren’t his sisters here with us?” In other words: the townsfolk knew of Jesus as an unimpressive member of the community, who worked a day job with his hands (say, a construction worker) – not great miracles (with his hands).  And his family was all there. The comments on the family are interesting and have prompted a lot of discussion over the years. To begin with, Jesus is here said to be “the son of Mary.”  As frequently noted, that’s a bit odd.  Normally ... To read the [...]

2020-04-03T01:48:08-04:00November 19th, 2017|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus, Public Forum|

Jesus’ Brother and the Mythicists (Part 2)

In my previous post I pointed out that mythicists have a real problem on their hands when it comes to insisting that Jesus didn’t exist (well, they actually have a *boatload* of problems; but this is one of them): Paul actually knew, personally, Jesus’ own brother, James. It’s hard to say that Jesus never lived if he in fact had a brother…. It doesn’t solve the problem to say that this was in fact Jesus’ cousin, since, well, he would still then be the cousin of (the real) Jesus (!) (plus the word Paul uses is “brother” not “cousin”) and it doesn’t work to say that he is Jesus’ brother meaning he is a member of the Christian church (since Paul differentiates him from himself and Peter by calling him the “brother” – and both Peter and Paul were also members of the church!). Mythicists have tried other approaches, including the one I discussed yesterday, of trying to claim that there was a group of fervent missionaries in Jerusalem called “the brothers of the Lord,” [...]

Brothers of Jesus and the Mythicists

QUESTION: Since you’ve brought up the subject of Jesus’ family perhaps it won’t be too far off the subject to ask this question. Mythicists are forced by their arguments to deal with Paul’s encounter with Peter and James in Galatians 1:18–20. They claim that when Paul refers to James as “The Lord’s brother” he does not mean that James is Jesus’ biological brother (which of course would mean that Jesus actually lived) but that he was using the word “brother” in the sense that all the disciples were “brothers” i.e., metaphorically. What about this? Is the word translated as “brother” in English that ambiguous in the original Greek? Can it be other than a biological relationship? Elsewhere I believe Paul uses the word “brothers” to describe fellow believers. Does he use the same Greek word? Thanks for the clarification.   RESPONSE:   Great question! I’ve dealt with the issue in my book Did Jesus Exist. I think this is one of the real deal-breakers for the mythicist position – that Paul was personally acquainted with [...]

Jesus’ Brothers?!? And the Proto-Gospel of James

  One more post on the Proto-Gospel of James.  As it turns out, this Gospel was very popular in Eastern, Greek-speaking Christianity throughout the Ages, down to modern times; and a version of it was produced – with serious additions and changes – in Latin, that was even more influential in Western Christianity (a book now known as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew).   In some times and places, these books were the main source of “information” that people had for knowing about Jesus’ birth and family – more so than the NT Gospels. The idea that Joseph was an old man and Mary was a young girl?  Comes from the Proto-Gospel (not the NT!).   The view that Jesus was born in a cave?   Proto-Gospel.    The notion that at the nativity there was an ox and a donkey?  Pseudo-Matthew.   And there were lots of other stories familiar to Christians in the Middle Ages not so familiar to people today, all from these books – for example, a spectacular account (in Pseudo-Matthew) of Jesus as an infant, en [...]

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