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§ 22. Brothers and Sisters of Jesus; the Mention of them in the Gospel Narrative, Proof of its historical Character.

Various scattered statements in the Evangelists lead us to conclude that Christ had younger brothers and sisters.6464   The word ἕως, in Matt., i., 25, in connexion with the statement that Jesus was Mary’s first-born, leads us to infer Matthew’s knowledge of children subsequently born to her (conf. De Wette on the passage), which we the more certainly conclude, as the same Evangelist mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus especially, together with his mother.—See Matt., xiii., 55. This view is the most natural in such passages as name them together, e. g., Luke, viii., 21; Mark, iii., 31; John, ii., 12; vii., 3. It would be forced work indeed to suppose that in all these passages ἀδελφοί is placed for ἀνεψιοί. The religious principles of Joseph and Mary offered no hindrance to this; it harmonizes well with the Christian view of the sanctity of wedlock; nor is there any thing at variance with it in the authentic traditions of the apostolic age.

But had the miraculous conception been mythical, the idea of later-born children would have been abhorrent to the spirit which originated such a myth. In later times, indeed, this idea did appear abhorrent to some minds; but it still remains a mystery why the mythical spirit did not exercise its power in remodelling the historical elements.

It is worthy of note that Mark and John agree in stating that these brothers of the Saviour remained unbelievers during his stay on earth, a fact which illustrates the truthfulness of the history, since it by no means tended to glorify either Christ or his brothers, one of whom, at least (James), was in high repute among the Jewish Christians. It is not to be wondered at that the prophet was without honour among those who dwelt under the same roof, and saw him grow up under the same laws of ordinary human nature with themselves. True, this daily contact 30afforded them many opportunities of beholding the Divinity that streamed through the veil of his flesh, yet it required a spiritual mind and a lively faith to recognize the revealed Son of God in the lowly garb of humanity. The impression of humanity made upon their senses day after day, and thus grown into a habit, could not be made to yield to the Divine manifestations, unless in longer time than was required for others; but when it did yield, and, after such long-continued opposition, they acknowledged their brother as the Son of God and the Messiah, they only became thereby the more trustworthy witnesses.


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