The gospels say there were brothers and sisters of Jesus in the first century.

Catholic book, Radio Replies 3 argues that when Mary got a baby, Jesus, without losing her virginity she was not likely to give it up later, that the so-called brothers of Christ were older than him and so were not her sons, that Mary is never once called the mother of his alleged brothers and that Jude in his epistle of that name calls himself the brother of James but is careful to avoid calling himself the brother of Jesus though he is called a brother in the gospels – supposedly indicating that brother is non-literal (Question 757).

God could have wanted a virgin but that does not mean he needed her to remain one forever and how could the Catholic Church know what Mary felt like doing all the time? Also there is no evidence that the brothers were older. And Mary is rarely mentioned in the Bible so it is no surprise that she is not called the mother of Jesus’ brothers.  

There is no real evidence behind the modern scholarly opinion that Jude the Apostle did not write the epistle. It is so short that nobody can refute his authorship for sure so we must take the epistle seriously. Jude may have been reluctant to call himself the brother of Jesus for it implied equality with Jesus or a superior apostolic authority that would be offensive to the other apostles but he wants to be seen as a servant of Jesus and a brother of James who was Jesus’ representative or perhaps Jude was saying he was the natural brother of Jesus like James was. James was liked better than Jesus so if Jude had both these men as brothers he was most likely to call himself the brother of the popular one. I think the most likely reason for Jude not calling himself the brother of Jesus was because Jesus never lived in his day. Anyway, whatever reason had for not calling himself the brother of Jesus nothing Jude wrote refutes the literal brother hypothesis.

Next Radio Replies says that when the Jews were shocked by Jesus’ impressive ways they exclaimed, “Is this the carpenter’s son and the son of Mary, brother to James and Joseph and Jude and Simon?” (Mark 6:3). Obviously they meant the son stuff literally so they must have meant the brother stuff literally too. And not only that, it is remarkable if one person is charismatic and exciting and innovative when that person has brothers and sisters who are not so if the brothers had been cousins there would be no need for finding this remarkable for they are further out relations.

Radio Replies even goes as far as to make the patently absurd statement that since the Jews said the sisters of Jesus were all with them according to Matthew (13:55, 56) that the all implies a huge pile of sisters so they could not have been literal sisters (Vol 3, Question 761).

The view of many Catholics that the issue of whether or not Christ had brothers and sisters cannot be settled from the Bible and therefore that it is wisest to believe he didn’t and Mary was always a virgin just because the Roman Catholic Church tradition says so is unreasonable. It would be kinder to let people make up their own minds. The Church makes a song and dance over such trivial things – its helping people it should care about and yet it bars good people from membership for doubting the perpetual virginity of Mary. That’s cultish!

Mary was so young and many babies died especially first time ones.  Premature births were common.

It is possible that Mary had her firstborn Jesus and that baby died and she had another son or raised somebody else's baby as her own.  If she was really that keen to have a kingly baby who knows?  History shows that people of that mentality would do anything.

NOTE: In this study, the brothers and sisters and many other gospel characters vanish from history almost like Jesus did.  Jesus' existence is not the only problematic thing we find in the gospels.  Were they as much an invention as him?

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