OK, OK. I know that this is one of those myths made up and perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church. I'm not normally one to criticize Catholics. I believe that we both believe in Jesus and in his resurrection and that is the basis of our fellowship and why I joyfully call practicing, believing Catholics my spiritual brothers and sisters.
The thing is, this myth is one that has been picked up by people across the spectrum. For whatever reason, I find that most people (including many Protestants) are surprised to learn that Jesus had at least four brothers and unknown number of sisters, identified in the gospels and in a number of letters in the New Testament.
Jesus' brothers and unnamed sisters are mentioned throughout all four gospels and numerous places in the rest of the New Testament. See Matthew 13:55-56, Mark 3:31, Luke 8:19 and John 7:1-10 for examples. His four brothers are named as "James, Joseph, Simon and Judas" by Matthew, and Galatians 1:19 mentions that James is the half-brother of Jesus.
The Catholic Church, in insisting that Mary remained a virgin after giving birth to Jesus for the rest of her life, perpetuates an idea that I would say is foreign to the New Testament and is even in direct contradiction with Matthew 1:25, which says Joseph was intimate with her after Jesus was born.
The Catholic Church also insists that the word "adelphos" could be used as "cousin" or "step-brother". They insist that the people mentioned in the passages above are either not the half-siblings of Jesus or are from a previous marriage of Joseph's. The problem here is that the word is not used to mean anything but "brothers" in the New Testament, and no children and no former marriage of Joseph's are mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. They certainly don't appear in the Christmas voyage to Bethlehem, described in Luke 2, either.
I'm sorry to say it, but it appears that in defending the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary (not taught in the New Testament), the Catholic church has had to invent other lines of thought to overcome what should otherwise be a plain reading of the texts that say Jesus was not an only child, but the oldest of at least 7 children.
There you have it! Myth #7 blown sky-high!
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Labels: Jesus Christ, New Testament, Roman Catholicism, virgin Mary