Did Jesus have a brother named James?

[ WordBytes on FAQs & Teachings of the Faith ]

Question:

Why do Catholics believe Mary remained ever-virgin? Didn’t Jesus have a brother named James? I heard he was older than Jesus, but I do know that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit born of the virgin Mary; I know that much because my Bible tells me that.

Answer:

Saint JamesThere are more than one persons named James in the Bible. There are two among the 12 Apostles! If you look for every reference of James in the Gospels, you’ll see that the one whose mother is named Mary is not the same person as the mother of Jesus. Matt. 27:55-56 shows us three women watching Jesus die on the cross from a distance: “Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” We know that Mary the mother of Jesus was at the foot of the cross, not with these other ladies standing at a distance. It’s possible that the James who is called in Scripture “the brother of the Lord” was really a cousin. Jesus grew up with an extended family of relatives.

Some scholars theorize that James was a half-brother, the son of Joseph by an earlier marriage. They says it’s possible that Joseph was a widower when he married Mary, as is claimed by the “Protoevangelium of James”, an apocryphal Gospel that was not accepted into the Canon of Scripture, the Bible (see my other post about this). However, many Saints and mystics who have been given supernatural knowledge of the life of Saint Joseph, as well as many scholars, have long held that Joseph had consecrated his life to God and intended to remain single and celibate all of his life. Then God called him to marry Mary, who also had dedicated her life and chastity to the Lord. In mutual respect for each other’s total consecration to the Lord, they never had sexual relations as a married couple (for more on this, see point #15 in Chapter 26 of my book 30 Days to the Father’s Heart, Saint Joseph as the Image of God’s Fatherhood.)

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© 2010 by Terry A. Modica
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