THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
|How can we prove that the verses below do not
prove that Mary had other Children ?
“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called
And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?”
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary
and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon”
Jesus is said to have had brothers. The Greek word for
“brothers” is “adelphos” and it is a compound word. A
= “same” and delph = “womb.” So, some
Protestants argue that these “brothers” of Jesus must be from
the same womb as Himself and thus children of Mary, His mother. However,
this is an etymological fallacy.
The derivation of a word,
its etymology, will give you the history of a word, but it does not necessarily
give you the correct definition of that word at the time it was used.
In the Hebrew language there is no word for cousin
or nephew. This close family culture referred to them all as
brothers. The Old Testament was translated into Greek around 100
B.C. in what is called the Septuagint. The translators used the
Greek word “adelphos,” or a derivative of
that, to describe any of these close family relations. The New
Testament writers used this same pattern to describe Jesus’ close family
relations even when they were not Mary’s children.
We can see this pattern carried over in some modern
translations. For example, we see this pattern in the
description of Abram and Lots’ relationship which was really uncle and
Abraham and Lot are called brothers.
“And when Abram heard that his brother
was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, … and pursued them
unto Hobah, … And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again
his brother Lot, and his goods, and
the women also, and the people.” KJV
And yet, the genealogy given early makes clear that Abraham is Lot's
“ ... Terah begat Abram, Nahor,
and Haran; and
Haran begat Lot.
Another example is found in Chronicles below. Sisters are said to have
married their brothers, yet the context makes clear that the husbands
were actually cousins to the brides, not brothers as we define the word.
1 Chronicles 23:21-22
“... The sons of Mahli; Eleazar, and Kish.
And Eleazar died, and
had no sons, but daughters: and their
sons of Kish took them.” KJV
In the New American Standard Bible it uses the word “brothers” in place
of the word “brethren” in the above quotation. We can see that cousins
In order to get past the prejudice of to how to interpret
the word “adelphos”
which is used in reference to Jesus, it is beneficial to consider
other Bible passages that also use that word, but in a different context.
4539 Salome ...
1) the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the apostle James the
elder and John.
Discovering the identity of Jesus’
brothers will be aided by examining who is His Mother’s sister. The phrase “his mother’s sister,” in Jn 19.25 [below],
is a reference to the mother of the sons of Zebedee , a.k.a.
Salome. Perhaps it was Salome’s
close relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary that emboldened
Salome to make the seemingly presumptuous request of Jesus that her
sons sit at his right and left. (Matthew 20:20-21. Saint Salome,
please pray for us.) The identification of “his mother’s sister,”
also evident when we compare
Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25 [see quotes
below.] These passages show a consistency whereby each of these three
Gospels lists all three of the women at the cross besides the
[ It would have been self evident that a loving, Jewish and presumably
widowed mother of an only child would have been at the cross. Stating that the
Blessed Virgin Mary was there would have been practically redundant. Therefore,
there was no need for Matthew or Luke to do so. While, John
does go out his way to state that she was there, this seems to be in
order to draw his readers into the realization of Mary’s role as the
New Eve. See
MARY the “WOMAN”
three women at the cross are
2. the “other
Mary” who was the wife of Clopas and the mother of James and Joseph (or
3. Salome who was Zebedee's wife and who
is described as Mary’s sister.
However, we know that Mary and
Salome were cousins (see family tree below)
so this is an example of “adelphos” (actually, the feminine
version of the word in this case), being used with a wider definition
than just children from the same womb.
“ …among whom were
Mary Magdalene, and
the mother of James and Joseph, and the
of the sons of Zebedee.”
“There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were
Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the
younger and of Joses, and Salome ...”
“So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of
were his mother, and his mother’s sister,
the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”
Bishop of Hierapolis and Apostolic Father, called by St. Irenæus
“a hearer of John, and companion of Polycarp , a man of old time”
states the following:
“(1.) Mary the mother of the Lord; (2.)
Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphæus, who was the mother of
James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of
one Joseph; (3.) Mary Salome, wife of
Zebedee, mother of John the evangelist and James; (4.)
Mary Magdalene. These four are found in the Gospel.” Fragment
Early church writers record that Salome, Zebedee’s wife, was
cousin of the Blessed
Virgin Mary. See quotation below chart.
The fact that they are
called “sisters” in the Bible verse above shows that the word “sister” had a
less restricted meaning and included close relatives. (The Greek word
used in the Bible is the feminine version of “adelphos.”)
“There were three sisters of Bethlehem, daughters of
Matthan the priest, and Mary his wife, under the reign
of Cleopatra and Sosipatrus, before the reign of Herod,
the son of Antipater: the eldest was Mary, the second
was Sobe, the youngest’s name was Anne. The eldest being
married in Bethlehem, had for daughter Salome the
midwife; Sobe the second likewise married in Bethlehem,
and was the mother of Elizabeth; last of all the third
married in Galilee, and brought forth Mary the mother of
Callistus [Historia ecclesiastica, 2.3. PG 145.760, A
translation from Charles Wheatly, A Rational
Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, 1794, p.
63.] Also see Hippolytus of
Thebes, [Migne's Patrologia Graeca PG 117,] Andrew of
Crete, Epiphanius Monachus,
Here is another example. We
know that King Herod (Antipas the Tetrarch) and Philip are called brothers (Greek: adelphos) in
Mark 6.17. Yet, we know that they are not from the same womb [as
the derivation of that word might suggest.] Their father King
Herod the Great had many wives and these brothers “adelphos” were born of different mothers.
(See DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE by John L. McKenzie,S.J., page
355 for a more detailed chart of Herod's family.
Note: Philip , the first
husband of Herodias, is sometimes called
Herod II, or even Herod Philip I, but
he should not be confused with Herod Philip II, the
James, The Brother of the Lord
“But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the
brother of the Lord.”
There are two Apostles named James.
However, it is clear that neither one of the Apostles named
James is the son of Joseph and Mary. They are stated to be the
“son of Zebedee” and the “son of Alphaeus” in the lists of the
Apostles. See Mark 3:14-19, and Matthew 10:2-4.
“He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) … Simon, …
James, son of Zebedee, and … James the son of Alphaeus …”
When we compare these texts with John
19:25 we can deduce that Clopas and Alphaeus must be the same
person. This can be easily explained, as Karl Keating points
out, because the Aramaic name Alphaeus can be rendered in the
Greek as either Alphaeus or as Clopas. Or Alphaeus could have
taken a Greek name similar to his Jewish name the same way as
Saul took the Greek name Paul.
In the second century church historian
Hegesippus explained that Clopas was the brother of Joseph,
Mary’s husband. Therefore, by marriage, Clopas’s sons and Jesus
were close relatives, and hence they were called brothers in
close knit familial society of the Hebrews.
Another example is, Plato
(429 -347 BC) in his LAWS XI 924 E for his model state: “That brother [adelphos]
who is born of the same father or of the same mother …”
Therefore, the word “adelphos” cannot necessarily mean from the same womb.
Plato also uses the same word to mean “kindred, or relatives.”
Therefore, the reference to the brothers and sisters (ADELPHOS) of Jesus
does not mean that Mary had other children.
Luke Chapter One implies that Mary had taken a vow of
Read more at
Perpetual Virginity Was Implied
Also see the following objections answered:
Mat. 1:25 Until,
Protestant Reformers Affirm
Mary's Perpetual Virginity
Links To Other Sites On This Subject
Answers by Karl Keating
by Kevin Knight
SISTERS OF JESUS EWTN
Fathers of Church at
Catholic Answers and
Corunum Catholic Apologetics
MARY MORAL ISSUES
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