Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Brothers (adelphos) of our Lord? ~ Mary's Perpetual Virginity

OBJECTION: Now, do we have biblical accounts where Jesus has half-brothers? Mark 6:3;3:31; Mat 12:48;13:53; Luke 8:19; John 7:2-5]. The other’s side would questioned this and argue that the “brother” here has no reference to Jesus’ brothers and sisters biologically but spiritually. But as they move on, one thing they base is an assumption, not evidence. In fact, the Greek word “adelphos” was used, according to Ptr. Domanon and Dr. Revuivar, and it has always been translated as brothers or brethren (plural) 346 times and never as cousins or disciples “ sungenees.

ANSWER: First of all we must understand that the authors of the Gospels were Jews. Even in the Old Testament there are instances where the word "adelphos" is used for the word "cousin", "close relative", or "kinsman" let's see where this is used in the Old Testament.

"eipen de abram tō lōt mē estō machē ana meson emou kai sou kai ana meson tōn poimenōn mou kai ana meson tōn poimenōn sou oti anthrōpoi adelphoi ēmeis esmen" ~Genesis 13:8, Greek Septuagint-Transliterated

Parting of Lot and Abraham, 430 A.D.
Sta. Maria Maggiore, Rome
In the English translation of this verse, "So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives." (New International Version). And in the New American Standard Bible, "So Abram said to Lot, 'Please let there be no strife between you and me, for between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.' " Notice that in the Greek Septuagint "adelphoi" (Plural) is used and translated into English as either "relatives", "kinsman", and "brother". The question is then put forth, was Lot Abram's brother, in the sense of coming from the same parents? The Bible is clear that Lot was Abram's nephew, not a brother in the sense of having the same parents, where do we read this? "They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom." ~Genesis 14:12 (New International Version). Even the Greek Septuagint uses "adelphou" for nephew, while the Greek word for nephew is ανιψιός (anipsiós), "elabon de kai ton lōt uion tou adelphou abram kai tēn aposkeuēn autou kai apōchonto ēn gar katoikōn en sodomois" ~Genesis 14:12 (Greek Septuagint).

Another verse where the English translation uses "cousin" (adelphou) is Jeremiah 32:12, "kai edōka auto tō barouch uiō nēriou uiou maasaiou kat' ophthalmous anameēl uiou adelphou patros mou kai kat' ophthalmous tōn estēkotōn kai graphontōn en tō bibliō tēs ktēseōs kai kat' ophthalmous tōn ioudaiōn tōn en tē aulē tēs phulakēs" ("and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard." ~New International Version).

St. James the Lesser, El Greco
Now, if we examine closely Matthew 13:55 where St. James and other men are called "brothers" of the Lord, we would see St. James as a cousin or a relative of Christ rather than a biological brother. For example, Galatians 1:18-19 tells us: "Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother." (New International Version)

Take note that this James who Paul speaks of is both called a "brother of the Lord" and an "apostle." If we read the list of the 12 Apostles we read that there are two James. The first James is called a "son of Zebedee." He would not be the James mentioned in Acts 12:1-2 for he was martyred early on. Even if it was him, his father was Zebedee, not Joseph.


St. Paul must have referred to the second James, who was an apostle (Luke 6:15-16). This James has a father named Alphaeus, not Joseph. Thus, James the apostle and Jesus were not uterine brothers. Easy enough. Some will argue, however, that this "James" was not an apostle or that he was not one of the original 12. Though this is a possibility—others in the New Testament, such as Barnabas in Acts 14, are referred to as "apostles" in a lesser sense—the argument from Scripture is weak. When Paul wrote about going "up to Jerusalem" to see Peter, he was writing about an event that occurred many years earlier, shortly after he had converted. He was basically going up to the apostles to receive approval lest he "should be running or had run in vain." It would be more likely he would have here been speaking about "apostles" (proper), or "the twelve." Christ calls the Apostles as "my brothers" in Matthew 20:10 and John 20:17:

St. James the Greater, El Greco
tote legei autais o iēsous mē phobeisthe upagete apangeilate tois adelphois mou ina apelthōsin eis tēn galilaian kai ekei me opsontai ("Then Jesus said to them, 'Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.' " ~Matthew 20:10, New International Version).

legei autē o iēsous mē mou aptou oupō gar anabebēka pros ton patera mou poreuou de pros tous adelphous mou kai eipe autois anabainō pros ton patera mou kai patera umōn kai theon mou kai theon umōn ("Jesus said, 'Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" ~John 20:17, New International Version).

And according to the Bible Dictionary:
"Brother - Other familial relationships are also described by ah, Abraham and Lot, uncle and nephew, are referred to as brothers."(Mounces Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, page 86)

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