vs. Lucas Banzoli
Lucas Banzoli is a very active Brazilian anti-Catholic polemicist, who holds to basically a Seventh-Day Adventist theology, whereby there is no such thing as a soul that consciously exists outside of a body, and no hell (soul sleep and annihilationism). This leads him to a Christology which is deficient and heterodox in terms of Christ’s human nature after His death. He has a Master’s degree in theology, a degree and postgraduate work in history, a license in letters, and is a history teacher, author of 25 books, as well as blogmaster (but now inactive) for six blogs. He’s active on YouTube.
The words of Lucas Banzoli will be in blue. I use RSV for the Bible passages unless otherwise indicated.
This is my 19th refutation of articles written by Lucas Banzoli. As of yet, I haven’t received a single word in reply to any of them (or if Banzoli has replied to anything, anywhere, he certainly hasn’t informed me of it). Readers may decide for themselves why that is the case.
I’m replying to Lucas’ article, Flávio Josefo é a prova irrefutável de que Tiago era irmão (e não primo) de Jesus! [Flavius Josephus is irrefutable proof that James was Jesus’ brother (not cousin)!] (7-11-18).
The first part of Lucas’ article goes through garden-variety Protestant objections to our biblical arguments for the perpetual virginity of Mary. I’ve dealt with them many times (even recently); no need to again. I want to hone in on one particular thing: Lucas’ casual assumption that Josephus’s accounts are some sort of “Gospel Truth” for Christians, and indeed (in Lucas’ ridiculous display of overconfidence) “irrefutable proof” [!] that James must have been Jesus’ sibling and not cousin (the mainstream Catholic view) or step-brother (as Eastern Catholics and Orthodox prefer to think).
I defend the “cousins” view (notably set forth by St. Jerome): not merely because I am a Catholic but (as an apologist and student of the Bible and early Church history) because I think it’s the best and most plausible view, given all the various kinds of relevant available evidence. Catholics are not required to adopt the cousins theory. We’re only bound to believe that Mary was ever-virgin: before, during (“in partu”) and after the birth of Jesus. Therefore, siblings of Jesus are ruled out in Catholic belief.
Catholic apologists . . . hammer the point that the authors of the New Testament preferred to say “brother” for who was actually “cousin”, even though they had a specific word for cousin that could have been perfectly used if they wanted, and even at the risk of someone confusing a cousin with a brother when he reads a text saying brother.
For them, the same apostle Paul who said that Mark was primo- anespsios of Barnabas (Col 4:10) preferred to say that James was brother – adelphos of Jesus (Gal 1:19), perhaps because he had a sudden amnesia of the existence of the term anepsis on that occasion, either because he was ill-informed, or because he didn’t mind confusing people anyway.
Yes, we “hammer” it (and “nail it down”: to follow the metaphor) because it’s an established and unarguable fact. The use of “brother” in a widespread sense in both Testaments is simply undeniable, and easily and quickly verified by cracking any Bible lexicon or Greek Grammar. I have written, accordingly, in past treatments of this topic:
Adelphos (“brother”) was used in the NT because it was following Aramaic / Hebrew cultural practice. They would say “brother” for both siblings and cousins and even for nephews (Abraham and Lot). We have to think how they thought then in that culture and with that language, not like we do today.*“Cousin” appears four times in the entire OT in the RSV (three of those in Jeremiah, another in Leviticus). But “brother[s]” appears 390 times, “brethren” 154 times and “sister[s]” 110 times [note: this is how this prominent modern translation chose to translate the words involved]. So by a 654-4 ratio, we have those terms (which at first glance sound like siblings) used over against “cousin.” Obviously, many times they were used for non-sibling relatives. Here are some examples of that:*Lot, who was called Abraham’s “brother” (Gen. 14:14), was the son of Haran, Abraham’s sibling (Gen. 11:26–28); therefore, was Abraham’s nephew, not his sibling or blood brother. Jacob is, likewise, referred to as the “brother” of Laban, who was literally his uncle (Gen. 29:15). Eleazar’s daughters married their “brethren,” who were the sons of Kish (Eleazar’s literal sibling). These “brethren”, then, were actually their first cousins (1 Chr. 23:21–22).*“Brother” and “sister” could also refer to kinsmen (Dt. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:9), as in the reference to the forty-two “brethren” of King Azariah (2 Kgs. 10:13–14). Many more such examples could be given.*The NT (which came out of the same culture, and was Jewish-written save for Luke) totally reflects this. It has “brother[s]” 159 times, “brethren” 191, and “sister[s]” 24 times, while “cousin” appears exactly once (Col 4:10).*So that’s a 374-1 ratio (even more lopsided than the OT), and for the entire Bible (minus the Deuterocanon), the numbers are 1028-5, or “cousin” used instead of “brother” or “sister” once in every 206 times a relative is mentioned, or a miniscule 0.5% of the time.*Most strikingly [and ultra-relevant to the present sub-topic], it looks like every time St. Paul uses adelphos (unless I missed one or two), he clearly intends it to mean something other than blood brother or sibling. He uses the word or related cognates no less than 138 times in this way. Yet we often hear about Galatians 1:19: “James the Lord’s brother.” 137 other times, Paul means non-sibling, yet amazingly enough, here he “must” mean sibling, because (so we are told) he uses the word adelphos? That doesn’t make any sense.
By comparing Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25, we find that James and Joseph [aka “Joses”: Mk 15:40] — mentioned in Matthew 13:55 with Simon and Jude as Jesus’ “brothers” — are also called sons of Mary, wife of Clopas. This “other Mary” (Matthew 27:61, 28:1) is called Our Lady’s adelphe in John 19:25 (it isn’t likely that there were two women named “Mary” in one family — thus even this usage apparently means “cousin” or more distant relative, or sister-in-law).
Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 mention Simon, Jude and “sisters” along with James and Joseph, calling all adelphoi. Since we know for sure that at least James and Joseph are not Jesus’ blood brothers, the most likely interpretation of Matthew 13:55 is that all these “brothers” are cousins, . . .
The name “James” in the New Testament is borne by several:
- James, the son of Zebedee — Apostle, brother of John, Apostle; also called “James the Great”.
- James, the son of Alpheus, Apostle — Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.
- James, the brother of the Lord — Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19. Without a shadow of doubt, he must be identified with the James of Galatians 2:2 and 2:9; Acts 12:17, 15:13 sqq. and 21:18; and 1 Corinthians 15:7.
- James, the son of Mary, brother of Joseph (or Joses) — Mark 15:40; Matthew 27:56. Probably the son of Cleophas or Clopas (John 19:25) where “Maria Cleophæ” is generally translated “Mary the wife of Cleophas”, as married women are commonly distinguished by the addition of their husband’s name.
- James, the brother of Jude — Jude 1:1. Most Catholic commentators identify Jude with the “Judas Jacobi”, the “brother of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), called thus because his brother James was better known than himself in the primitive Church.
The identity of the Apostle James (2), the son of Alpheus and James (3), the brother of the Lord and Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 15, 21), although contested by many critics and, perhaps, not quite beyond doubt, is at least most highly probable, and by far the greater number of Catholic interpreters is considered as certain . . . The James (5) of Jude 1:1 must certainly be identified with James (3), the brother of the Lord and the Bishop of Jerusalem. The identification of James (3), the brother of the Lord and James (4), the son of Mary, and probably of Cleophas or Clopas offers some difficulty. This identification requires the identity of Mary, the mother of James (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40), with Mary the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25), and, consequently, the identity of Alpheus (2) and Clopas (4). As Clopas and Alpheus are probably not two different transcriptions of the same Aramaic name Halpai (see CLEOPHAS), it must be admitted that two different names have been borne by one man. Indeed, there are several examples of the use of two names (a Hebrew and a Greek or Latin name) to designate the same person (Simon-Petrus; Saulus-Paulus), so that the identity of Alpheus and Cleophas is by no means improbable.
On the whole, although there is no full evidence for the identity of James (2), the son of Alpheus, and James (3), the brother of the Lord, and James (4), the son of Mary of Clopas, the view that one and the same person is described in the New Testament in these three different ways, is by far the most probable. There is, at any rate, very good ground (Galatians 1:19, 2:9, 2:12) for believing that the Apostle James, the son of Alpheus is the same person as James, the brother of the Lord, the well-known Bishop of Jerusalem of the Acts.
Thus, the article holds that the people named James described in #2-5 are not four people, but just one, and the James described in #1, a second James. These two people are:
1) James, the son of Zebedee (Mt 4:21; 10:2; 20:20; 26:37; 27:56; Mk 1:19-20; 3:17; 1o:35; Lk 5:10) and Salome (Mt 27:56; cf. Mk 15:40; 16:1) was an Apostle and one of the twelve disciples, brother of St. John the Apostle and the author of the fourth Gospel; also called “James the Great” (referring to physical size). Jesus humorously nicknamed him and his brother John Boanerges, or “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). He was beheaded by orders of Herod Agrippa I in 44 AD (Acts 12:1-2).
2) James the “brother of the Lord” (“James the Lesser” or “James the Just”), bishop of Jerusalem and author of the Epistle of James, who was the son of Alphaeus / Clopas (aka Cleophas or Cleopas) — the brother of St, Joseph — and Mary Clopas (“the other Mary” and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s sister-in-law), and brother of Joseph (aka “Joses”) and Simon (Mt 13:55; 27:56; Mk 6:3; 15:40, 47), and Jude [aka “Judas” but not Iscariot] (Jude 1:1; Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3). Traditionally, it is believed he was martyred in 62 or 69 AD by being stoned to death by the Pharisees.
Here’s where the evidence of Hegesippus comes in very handy and ties all this together neatly, and corroborates the scriptural account and the “cousins” theory. Eusebius, in his History of the Church, documents his words as follows:
After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James.
They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Saviour. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph. (Book III, section 11, parts 1-2; translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. , pp. 123-124 in the version translated by G. A. Williamson, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965; cf. Book III, section 32, part 4: “Mary, the wife of Clopas, who was the father of Symeon” and Book III, section 32, part 1: “Symeon, the son of Clopas”)
The same author [Hegesippus, cited in part 1] also describes the beginnings of the heresies which arose in his time, in the following words:
And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as the Lord had also on the same account, Symeon, the son of the Lord’s uncle, Clopas, was appointed the next bishop. All proposed him as second bishop because he was a cousin of the Lord. (Book IV, section 22, part 4; Williamson translation, p. 181)
Thus, at this point, we have express biblical evidence that James (the #2 James above!) and Joseph are sons of Mary Clopas; “the other Mary” and not the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now, thanks to Hegesippus, we know that Simon, or Symeon, was also a son of Clopas / Alphaeus and the “other Mary”; therefore also a cousin of Jesus and not a sibling. Only the “relative status” of Jude still has to be determined. Hegesippus arguably also alludes to Jude (Judas) being Jesus’ first cousin as well:
The same historian [Hegesippus] says that there were also others, descended from one of the so-called brothers of the Saviour, whose name was Judas, . . . (Book III, section 32, part 5; McGiffert translation; Williamson translates: “one of the ‘brothers’ of the Saviour named Jude . . .”: p. 143; while Christian Frederick Cruse (1850) renders the passage about this Jude: “one of those considered brothers of the Lord.”).
Hegesippus confirms that Simon and Jude: mentioned together with James and Joseph in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, are sons of Mary wife of Clopas, who was an aunt of Jesus (St. Joseph’s brother and sister-in-law). Scripture already directly affirmed that James and Joseph were the sons of Mary & Clopas (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40).
The identity of Alphaeus and Clopas. These two words, it is said, are different renderings of the same Aramaic name yplx or [Aramaic] (Chalphai), the form Clopas being peculiar to St. John, the more completely grecized Alphaeus taking its place in the other Evangelists. The Aramaic guttural Cheth, when the name was reproduced in Greek, might either be omitted as in Alphaeus, or replaced by a k (or c) as in Clopas. Just in the same way Aloysius and Ludovicus are recognized Latin representatives of the Frankish name Clovis (Clodovicus, Hludovicus, Hlouis).
Scripture provides a bit more indirect evidence about Jude as well. If this is the same Jude who wrote the epistle bearing that name (as many think), he calls himself “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Now, suppose for a moment that he was Jesus’ blood brother. In that case, he refrained from referring to himself as the Lord’s own sibling (while we are told that such a phraseology occurs several times in the New Testament, referring to a sibling relationship) and chose instead to identify himself as James‘ brother.
This is far too strange and implausible to believe. Moreover, James also refrains from calling himself Jesus’ brother, in his epistle (James 1:1: “servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”): even though St. Paul calls him “the Lord’s brother” (Gal 1:19). Now that we have seen from Holy Scripture that James is Jesus’ first cousin, it follows that if Jude is his sibling (assuming that is the meaning of Jude 1:1), then he is also Jesus’ first cousin.
ADDENDUM: see my follow-up study, where I considerably revise my opinions: Josephus, Adelphos, & James, “Brother of Jesus” (vs. Lucas Banzoli) [12-16-22]
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Photo credit: copy of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History from 1533 [Abe Books sale page for this volume]
Summary: Brazilian Protestant apologist Lucas Banzoli cited Jewish historian Josephus re: James: “brother” of Jesus. Scripture & the historian Hegesippus are much more decisive.