A reader commented recently that she has a Protestant friend who always refers to St James as “Jesus’ baby brother.”
Maybe, and then again maybe not.
The early church taught that the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus were his kinsmen from his extended family–most probably the half brothers and sisters from an earlier marriage of Saint Joseph. However, as in most cultures with extended families most anyone in the village or wider family were called “brother and sister”.
The fact is, from Scripture alone, we’re not sure.
However, this division between Catholics and Protestants is not really about whether Jesus had brothers and sisters or not but whether or not you believe in the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If you believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary then the “brothers and sisters” must be someone else. If you do not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary then you conclude that Mary had other children by Joseph.
This is a debate that has been around since the time of St Jerome–who had a big struggle with a person called Heldivius over the matter.
The question features in one of the chapters of my book Mary-A Catholic Evangelical Debate which I wrote with an old Bob Jones classmate David Gustafson.
The book is now out of print, but I’m working on getting it ready to be re-printed with a new title and cover.
In the meantime, it’s a chapter worth reading and you can read the whole thing here.
While I’m at it, I encourage you to use the “Archived Articles” drop down menu on this blog.
I’ve uploaded a good bit of material–my conversion story, and various apologetics articles.
Go here, for instance, to see a whole collection of articles about the Virgin Mary.
It’s there as a resource, but I realize many readers sort of glance over those tabs and don’t use them.
There’s a lot hidden away there. Go ahead and read and share all that free material.
Here’s the link again for the long article on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.