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The Truth about the Brothers & Sisters

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by BrotherFinn, Jan 25, 2002.

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  1. BrotherFinn

    BrotherFinn Guest

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    More ink has been spilled about this issue than many that are of more serious import to the Christian world. Both sides in the issue have valid points. To cut through the nonsense, we could basically say that these points boil down to:

    1. Why do explicit references to the "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus have to be "gotten around?" What's wrong with the idea that Mary and Joseph had a normal marital relationship resulting in children? Isn't this just another symptom of Catholic disdain for sexuality and the glorification of celibacy?

    2. Doesn't the notion that Mary and Joseph had a massive brood of children seem to undermine the unique "sign" God intended to convey about Jesus in the virginal conception? Why would anyone be exceptionally inclined believe Mary's first-born was conceived without a father when she and the father obviously went on to have a whole squad of kids? Wouldn't that make the "virginal conception" of Jesus appear to be a blatant theft from the prevalent "virgin birth" pagan myths of the day? Also, Scripture says that Joseph took Mary into his home but did NOT consummate the marriage upon doing so, even though this was his lawful right and obligation. It's obvious he respectfully feared God's work in Mary. Being a Law-saturated Jew and knowing full well that Mary's child was conceived by God Himself, how could he, like his ancestors fearing the presence of God in the tabernacle and leaving it untouched, abandon his course?

    Both points are very valid. The facts are:

    A. Scripture speaks quite freely about "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus, and we must therefore believe that he did indeed have true "brothers" and true "sisters"... BUT we must also realize that there would have been MANY individuals in Jesus life who would have been TRULY called, known and remembered as "Brothers" and "Sisters" of Jesus. Siblings would obviously be called by the Aramaic/Hebrew "ah," but equally so would be cousins, nephews, uncles, neices, etc. If one of Jesus' Aramaic-speaking disciples were speaking to another person about a group of cousins of Jesus sitting on a log, this disciple would have historically, liguistically, and verbally said "Those are the Brothers and Sisters of the Lord over there on that log." Jesus spoke Aramaic. So did his disciples. So did the first men to record the sayings and fragmentary accounts of Jesus' life, *before* the Gospels themselves were written. Any close male relative or kinsman (kinswoman) of Jesus would have been remembered as, referred to in speech, and recorded in Aramaic writing as a "Brother or Sister" of Jesus. This is simply a fact--no matter siblings or cousins. When the authors of the Gospel narratives wrote their accounts in Greek, they knew quite obviously about a group of individuals known as the "Brothers of the Lord" and that is naturally how they described (transcribed) them in Greek. It's the same with Paul. He journeyed to Jerusalem and spoke Aramaic with the disciples of Jesus, and met those who were known, according to that tongue, as "Brothers" of the Lord. It was no stretch for him to explicitly refer to these men by their proper Aramaic titles when writing about them to his Greek-speaking readers.

    B. The overwhelming majority of the early apostolic and post-apostolic churches were under the distinct impression that Jesus was Mary's only child, and that Joseph respected God's work in Mary throughout their marriage. This impression was an ancient one, folks. An early church historian (mid 100's) named Hegesippus spoke of the famed "Brothers" of the Lord who oversaw the Jerusalem Church--James, Simon, and Judas. Yet later on in his work Hegesippus clearly records that Simon was the son of Clopas, the brother of Joseph, and hence the cousin of Jesus. Contradiction? NO! We know that this cousin Simon would have been called, known, and remembered by all the Aramaic, Hebrew-speaking community as the "brother" of the Jesus--hence his description as "brother" in the Gospel narratives. Moreover, one of the "Marys" at Calvary was described as the wife of Clopas (the uncle of Jesus) (John 19:24ff), and in other Gospel narratives this same Mary is described as the "mother of James and Joses" (Mark 15:40 et al) who were elsewhere called the "brothers" of Jesus. Obviously, there was a case of confused "actual relationship identities" from the historic reality of Jesus' daily life to the decades-later composition of the Gospel narratives. Even so, the fact remains that, when the various pieces of the puzzle are put together, Scripture does not state that these individuals were born of Mary Mother of Jesus, and even indicates (Mark 15:40,etc.) that they were the offspring of another woman who was likely the wife of Jesus paternal uncle--thus making her children true Brothers of Jesus in Aramaic, but "cousins" according to our more streamlined understanding.

    C. I think it's extremely telling that the only time the Scripture narratives DO address the sexual relationship of Mary and Joseph, it's to say that Joseph did NOT have sex with her!--even after taking her into his home as wife, even at the very *moment* it would have been his legal right and his obligation to do so! But he didn't. In fact, ancient Jewish law did not prohibit sexual relations during the course of a pregnancy. Highly unusual circumstances, yes, but let's not beat around the proverbial Burning Bush-- God called Joseph and Mary to a highly unusual marriage! Their own plans were put aside to favor the often perilous, always challenging care , nurturing, and raising of the Word-Made-Flesh.
     
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  2. Avila

    Avila Boohoo moomoo, cebu

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    Yay!! Thanks! It is definitely something to think about!!!! :D
     
  3. Tesseract

    Tesseract New Member

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    Bro Finn, thanks for raising those points. I understood the point about "Brothers and Sisters" a long while ago, but hey :)

    I think the misunderstanding is not because Catholics "disdain for sexuality and the glorification of celibacy?" (your words). I think its merely because they simply did not know the reason, and surmised for themselves. At which case those who do know are called to explain the
     
  4. savinggrc

    savinggrc Guest

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    Hey BroFinn,

    Have you a copy of the Aramaic Matthew? That would be a fabulous thing to have... :D Without it, this is all just speculation.

    The Bible says He had bros and sis' and the reason why it goes against the grain for Catholics is simply because they are taught, in many parishes though not all, that she was a perpetual virgin and that she was sinless.

    Karen
     
  5. Tesseract

    Tesseract New Member

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    Karen,

    As Bro Finn has mentioned, Jewish communities in those days were very close. So close that it is possible to call cousins and close relations 'sister' or 'brother'. In this case, then, there is no conflict.
     
  6. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

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    Brother Finn,

    You have showed that Mary could of been a virgin maybe. However you have shown that it is really only speculation at best. I think your strongest point is the one about tradition. The others really do not show why the words should not be translated as brother and sister. I am not saying you are wrong. I am only saying that you really do not know if you are right at all. You just do not have much proof that it should not be translated as a real brother and sister and that Mary did not have other children.

    blackhaw
     
  7. savinggrc

    savinggrc Guest

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    I reckon I don't see why it's so important to Catholics to believe that Mary was a perpetual virgin - how ridiculous to believe that her husband would not have relations with her. Indeed, God moved so that Sarah could conceive and she had Isaac and no one tries to turn her into a virgin forever. :)

    I'm not trying to be ugly, but she was just a woman. She has no power to save you nor to keep you. Saint? Yes, as is every other born again believer. But perpetual virgin? Sinless? No. :D
     
  8. KC Catholic

    KC Catholic Everybody's gone surfin'...Surfin' U.S.A

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    And your stating this as fact based on what evidence?
     
  9. Tesseract

    Tesseract New Member

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    See, this is where Catholicism varies with other religions. Mary is given deference because she is the Mother of Christ. She bore him in her womb, and gave birth to Him. Of all the women in the world, why her? God must have a pretty darn reason in making her so special. Thus, she is not just a woman.

    As for the other stuff you raised:
    *perpetual virginity
    *saint
    *sinless

    These are part of Catholic doctrine. Would you want an extensive dialogue on this? If so, it should be another thread.
     
  10. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

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    "Of all the women in the world, why her? God must have a pretty darn reason in making her so special."

    This is really not a good argument. Why? Because why would Mary have to be the reason why God chose her? Could it not be that she was the lucky person God chose to use? If that was the case then Mary was definitely "blessed" and "favored." So Mary did not have to be special herself at all. God could of made Mary the mother of Jesus for many reasons so this is just not a good argument at all.

    Blackhaw
     
  11. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

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    KC,

    grace :" But perpetual virgin? Sinless? No."

    KC "And your stating this as fact based on what evidence?"

    I think that this was stated because Grace can find no evidence to support these claims in scripture. I will aks you why you think that she was a perpetual virgin and sinless?

    blackhaw
     
  12. KC Catholic

    KC Catholic Everybody's gone surfin'...Surfin' U.S.A

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    Well, as we stated above...Gabriel pronounced her 'Full of Grace' and this acknowledgement is significant.

    Someone who is considered "Full of Grace" is someone without sin, who is pure. Adam and Eve were full of grace before their fall in the garden.

    We believe that Mary was 'full of grace' without the stain of original sin. What I can't understand is why people have such a hard time with this belief - it's Jesus' mother.
     
  13. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

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    KC,

    Why does " full of Grace" mean that " is someone without sin, who is pure. Adam and Eve were full of grace before their fall in the garden?" I do not understand the jump there. We are all full of grace. That is all who are Christians.

    blackhaw
     
  14. KC Catholic

    KC Catholic Everybody's gone surfin'...Surfin' U.S.A

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    Hi Blackhawk:

    I saw this on one of my favorite websites for understanding the Catholic Faith...www.catholic.com



    When they refer to 'early church fathers' they are talking about the leaders of the christian church in the beginning. Here are some of their thoughts:



    Hope this helps...

     
  15. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

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    KC,

    Very impressive list of Church Fathers and others. It did help me to understand why Catholics believe the way you do thanks.

    So it is tradition. And I know for you tradition is very important. Not to say that for me traditin is not important just not as miportant. I see Irreaneus, Tertullain, Augustine, and Ambrose are all god men of God but they did make mistakes. Now could they have all been wrong? I say yes. You will probably say no. Okay. That seems to be where we differ. Oh do you know of any verses in the Bible that would supprt the fact that Mary "recieved this grace early?" That would help me believe it.

    Know that even though we very much disagree with this that I do not think that this is something that is essential. Meaning that I think that we can disagree as Christian brothers and sisters about this. Neither are heretical. So until I here from you again Peace be with you.

    Blackhaw
     
  16. savinggrc

    savinggrc Guest

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    Based on the Bible doesn't say so, but does say that Jesus has brothers. The absence from Scripture goes both ways, KC. :)
     
  17. savinggrc

    savinggrc Guest

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    "Someone who is considered "Full of Grace" is someone without sin"

    Can you show me Biblical evidence to support this?

    "We believe that Mary was 'full of grace' without the stain of original sin. "

    The problem with this is that ya'll stated on the other thread that Mary did need the saving work of Jesus Christ. Now, the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If Mary was without sin, even the very sin nature, then she could have saved us. Jesus wouldn't have had to come and die. But that's not the way it happened. Jesus is the only One Who has ever been without sin.

    Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

    Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

    The reason that non-Catholics have such a hard time with Mary being a sinless perpetual virgin is because her being so elevates her to a level equal with Christ. None is equal with Him. All have sinned - including Mary. All need His atoning work on the cross for salvation, even Mary.

    I noted that in the quotes provided that the references to Mary being a virgin were in regard to her birthing Christ. I don't deny that. She was a virgin when God overshadowed her and Jesus was conceived. That part I am not disputing. Their quotes, however, do not deal with Mary after Jesus' birth, living as a wife and mother. They only deal with the actual conception and the birth.

    Karen
     
  18. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Monkey Boy

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    Karen,

    I think that they are saying that Mary was not sinless because of what she did. She just received the total of justification and sanctification early and that she got a gift of God that she did not have a sin nature. So in a way MAry was not special but God made her special because of her purpose. So Mary was saved by God but in a different way than we were but still because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Am I correct KC?

    Blackhaw

    KC: do you believe that Mary was a co-redemtrix? (sp?) Meaning that Mary played a role in our salvation. That is besides the fact that God used her to bear Jesus. I have heard that some Catholics say that she does play a part in it. That I can't agree with and I think it is heretical. Do you think that way?
     
  19. Tesseract

    Tesseract New Member

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    KC: Thanks for posting that source! I was about to quote from that.

    Blackhaw: Can I answer that question too-? Yes, Catholics believe she is co-redemptrix.
     
  20. KC Catholic

    KC Catholic Everybody's gone surfin'...Surfin' U.S.A

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    Right on the money Blackhawk!



    My belief (and most other Catholics) runs along the line of "the fact that God used her to bear Jesus" part. And that is significant role in relationship to salvation history, but not one that would elevate her to the level of Christ.

    Its like that 'Shake and Bake' commercial where the little girl says "Mom made Shake and Bake and I helped."

    Corny, I know..but Mary 'helped' in the salvation of all of us by saying "Yes lord." She didn't die on the cross or re-establish our path to heaven, Christ did all the Salvation work and said "It is finished."

    And the Church has pulled back on the "Co-redemptrix' issue because of the confusion the word alone has caused. It really means that someone was working along with Christ in Salvation history. It was never to elevate Mary to Jesus' level, but to recognize her role in salvation history.

    So, that issue is basically moot now.

    Karen


    And you are correct. Blackhawk's statements reflect that we acknowledge that Mary needed a savior - and she proclaimed it as well. God applied Christs redemption to Mary at the moment of her conception - thus setting her apart from us.

    We, too will receive that redemption and grace once we are judged by Christ. We have some of that grace and redemption now based on our witness and faith in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior. But we are still imperfect until we are made perfect by Christs redemption in heaven.



    That is true, I see your point. There are historical documents that allude to Mary remaining a virgin even after Jesus was born. One called "The Protoevangelium of James" was written about 60 years after Mary died.

    I hate doing this, but I don't have time to put it into my own words, so I am going to paste the article from www.catholic.com. This helped me understand why we believe she was a virgin all her life.



    So as you can see, it was believed for quiet some time that Mary was indeed ever-virgin and its just been fairly recently that people have questioned the belief.

    Peace to you both.
     
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