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Holman Bible Dictionary

Brothers, Jesus

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Jesus grew up in a normal family with parents and brothers. Jesus' Nazareth critics listed them in Mark 6:3 as James, Joses, Juda, and Simon. Their names appear again in the parallel passage of Matthew 13:55 , except Joseph is used as the alternate spelling of Joses (see NAS). His brothers may have been among the friends in Mark 3:21 who thought Jesus was “beside himself”; ten verses later Mark 3:31 “his brethren and his mother” tried to get His attention while He was teaching in a house. Furthermore, John 7:5 reports that “neither did his brethren believe in him.” After the resurrection, however, they changed their minds and joined the disciples in times of prayer ( Acts 1:14 ). The risen Christ appeared to one of them, James, and he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17 ; 1 Corinthians 15:7 ). Nevertheless, some writings in the early centuries raised questions about the brothers to protect their developing doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. One of them, often called the Gospel of James, tells the life story of Mary, using much fanciful material. It claims that Jesus' brothers were the sons of Joseph by an earlier marriage. This is the view of the Greek Orthodox Church. Later a famous scholar, Jerome, argued that Jesus' brothers were really his cousins because their mother was Mary of Cleophas and the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus (see John 19:25 ). This is the view of the Roman Catholic Church, but Protestant scholars prefer the traditional view of the Gospels. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Mary and Joseph then had four sons in the way all humans normally do.

W. J. Fallis

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Brothers, Jesus'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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