Catholic doctrine requires the historical belief that Mary had only one child Jesus. 

Matthew and Mark and Luke speak of Mary the mother of James and Joseph and some take this to refer to Jesus' mother. If they are right, then is are the gospels wilfully refusing to call her the mother of Jesus because the same gospels speak of Jesus saying that his real mother is not his birth mother but whoever heeds his word?

It would mean Matthew 28:1 hates to mention her and just calls her the other Mary.

The only objection to all that is that Acts 1:14 calls her the Mother of Jesus. But that proves nothing. That you cannot bear calling her Jesus' mother does not mean you will never call her that. It is thought that since Luke speaks well of Mary that he could not have thought she was dirt. But what if she went astray? The angel called her full of grace but do not forget that grace is seen as a miraculous power that restrains evil. Paul said that grace abounds for sinners. Calling her full of grace is not necessarily a compliment.

Matthew says that Joseph did not know Mary sexually until after she had had her son. This seems to hint that he had sex with her after the birth. Catholics bellow, “But until in the Bible does not mean what it usually means at times.” True. But you can tell by the context. But there is the strong possibility that until means until here. When it could mean the literal until that is what it should be taken to mean. Matthew was writing a gospel not a puzzle.

In Genesis 8:7 after the flood the raven flies until the earth was dried up but that does not mean that it settled when dry ground appeared again. Until seems to mean something like when rather than until here. This was written in a time long before Matthew so why assume Matthew would have written like that as well? Why assume he would have meant until the way Genesis means it? Matthew was writing in Greek not in Hebrew so the Christian habit of sneaking Genesis into the equation isn’t on.

James D Tabor observes in The Jesus Dynasty page 297 that the natural reading of Matthew is that Joseph and Mary had sex after Jesus was born. He says the Catholic argument that until does not mean Mary's virginity was taken away by Joseph after Jesus was born is strained. He is right. Catholics say the until has the same sense as, "Stay sober until I come." This does not mean to suggest that one may get drunk after. But Joseph did not know Mary sexually until after she had her son is not like that. The until has to be literal here.

In Psalm 110:1 God says to the Messiah that he wants him to sit at his right hand (rule as next in power) until he makes his enemies his footstool. The Church argues that until here does not mean that Jesus could be demoted from God’s right hand so until in Matthew does not mean Mary was only a virgin until she had her baby. But there is no evidence that the Psalm is speaking of Jesus at all. Also the enemies could be made footstools forever so the until would not mean that there is a time limit on the messiah ruling beside God.

Luke calls Jesus Mary’s firstborn which seems to indicate that he was her first of a number of children. Theologians say firstborn in the Bible is often supposed to mean the most important to be born not the first to be born. But there is no evidence of this usage in the Bible. The Christians imagine there is for Jesus is called God’s firstborn which they do not take literally for they hold that as God Jesus always existed and what always existed never had a birth. But this rests on the unproven assumption that the Bible teaches that Jesus is God.

There are brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in the gospels but cousins were called brothers and sisters. In Genesis 14:14 and 1 Chronicles 23:22 we find this usage.

So the Catholics could be right except that the Gospels were written in Greek and there was a word for cousins in Greek. Had the gospels not been saying Jesus had flesh and blood brothers and sisters another word would have been used.

In those times, people had big families. Why does the gospel speak as if Jesus did not have many of those alleged cousins? That is strange. It makes more sense to hold that they were real brothers and sisters.

The Gospel of John says that the disciple Jesus loved and the mother of Jesus were standing by the cross and Jesus said to him, "See that is your mother", and to her, "See that is your son". The Catholic Church says this disciple was the apostle John. In actual fact, there is no reason to think the disciple was John. The gospel says that John is the son of Zebedee (21:2). That doesn't sound like John wrote it for his name and who his father was was not being hidden. The gospel does not claim to be authored by the beloved disciple but to be based on the writings of the beloved disciple (John 21). To suggest that a disciple would write anything and keep calling himself the beloved disciple to hide his identity and to keep Jesus' love for him in people's faces is madness especially if he was really at the cross.

When Jesus on the cross told the beloved disciple who was not a relation to care for Mary it is supposed to imply that she had had no other children. But the gospel simply says that Jesus told the disciple that Mary was his mother and Mary and the disciple was her son. And then the gospel says that the disciple looked after her from that moment and took her to his home. But wait, the disciple becoming Mary’s adopted son does not indicate that he was the only one who could care for her. (There might have been a spiritual affinity between the disciple and Mary which was why she wanted him to look after her and when she would have been 43 then and the disciple a grown man the scandalous implications of their living together would have been obvious.) If it does, it indicates that Jesus had no cousins to look after her as well which dismantles the Roman view that Jesus’ brothers and sisters are just cousins. So if this shows that Jesus was an only child it also shows that the cousins were invented. The amount of speculation in Catholic theology that they call truth is scandalous especially when they read in the gospel of Mark that Jesus’ brothers came with his mother to talk to him so they were very close to her meaning she was probably their literal mother.

His saying on the cross when he was dying, "Woman this man is your son" is clearly Jesus reaffirming that he does not consider her his mother.

Also the disciple might have only taken Mary into his home for a while. The gospel says all who were close to Jesus were frightened for their lives so the disciple might have taken her into hiding for a while. And adoptions can be reversed. Maybe they fell out down the line and so Mary and the disciple ceased to be mother and son. Rome reads far too much into what Jesus said.

It is indeed a serious problem that the gospel says it was the disciple Jesus loved that Jesus gave his mother to. We don't know for sure if this really was John. The gospeller claims to have been this disciple but he never says he was John. But if he was the apostle John then why hide his identity? How could he hide it for if Mary was considered important everybody would have known who he was had he been living with her? The Jewish traditions liked to portray Mary as a whore so they would have been only too happy to hear that she was living with a man. This shows both that the Catholic fantasy that Mary was always honoured in the Church as top saint is rubbish and that the disciple was probably not one of the twelve apostles at all. That means we are not under obligation to believe in his gospel for the twelve apostles were the established dogma makers and prophets of the Church. Also the disciple not being John debunks the legends and visions from Heaven about John and Mary being mother and son and living in Ephesus.

In John chapter 2 we read that Mary and Jesus went to a wedding feast to which they were invited. The wine runs out and Mary asks Jesus to do something about it. At first he refuses. Then he decides to turn water into wine. She speaks to him as if he was related to the groom or bride and had authority over the entertainment. She speaks as if the wine is her concern and his. She even tells the stewards to do whatever Jesus tells them to do. If the account is not a badly concealed story about Jesus' own wedding it is certainly an account about the marriage of Mary's son or daughter. Jesus must have stepped into the void left by the death or departure of the head of the family, Joseph husband of Mary. He then was probably older than the brother or sister that got married. It was most likely to have been a sister that was married for the tradition was that the parents of the bride organised the wedding entertainment.

We read that Mary had a sister called Mary. Was this a sister-in-law or cousin or other far outish relation? Did Mary’s father divorce her mother and abandon her and Mary and take a new bride who gave birth to another Mary? If Mary’s father had disowned Mary he could have let his wife name the new child Mary. Some would say this is unlikely but stranger things have happened. If the two families were separate then it was possible to have two Marys by the one father for confusion wouldn’t have been an issue. The same names could have been used when there was no chance of a mix-up. It is possible that Mary’s sister had a second name which was Mary and used that instead of her first name. There is no reason to deny that sister means sister here when Mary is said to have a sister Mary. Mary being the sister of Mary doesn’t prove that the non-literal sister use was deployed in the gospels. It doesn’t give the Catholics an excuse for ignoring the references to Jesus’ brothers and sisters.

The view that since Jesus’ father was God then his brothers if any could not be literal brothers but half-brothers shows that brother could even mean cousin is incorrect. We all refer to half-brothers as brothers but it is too big of a step to say that anybody doing that could mean cousin as well! The gospels never actually say that no male sperm was used in producing Jesus. Luke says Joseph was supposed to be the father of Jesus but perhaps this is just a reflection of the unusual circumstances of the conception meaning nobody was sure how Mary got pregnant. It does not mean Luke didn’t think Jesus was Joseph’s son.  When Luke is read carefully he does not teach a virginal conception.

There is no evidence to support the Roman Catholic habit of saying sisters and brothers don’t mean that when Jesus is being discussed. In fact it is very improbable that the Bible supports the Church.

Now, it cannot be proved from the Bible that Mary never had other children and it cannot be proved that the brothers and sisters are really cousins. Would the gospels really have been likely to call cousins brothers and sisters and risk confusing people especially readers who were of Gentile origin and who meant brother by brother and sister by sister? The law of economy tells us that when brother could mean cousin and it appears in a book that gives no reason to think that it is intended to mean cousin then it probably means brother. So, the Catholic view that Mary was a perpetual virgin is out.

Or were the brothers and sisters the children of Joseph from a previous marriage? But if the Bible says that Joseph was not Jesus’ father this is eliminated as well. We are not told that they were Joseph’s offspring and it seems that we would have been for the apostles were important characters in the Bible story. Joseph was unlikely to have had a previous family because he was a poor man and Mary’s father would not sell her to an older man with no money. Joseph was married only the once and it was to Mary.

When Joseph had to bring his wife to Bethlehem though she was about to give birth it implies that they were alone in the world. Nobody would look after her so he had to drag her along with him. The story still seems dubious for she would have been better off alone at home than travelling in her condition but there is value in its hint that they had nobody. The appearance of the brothers and sisters later implies that these were born after Jesus and to Mary. If they had her relatives or parents these relatives would have seen to her.

The Bible says not a word about Mary always being a virgin and when it does touch the subject of her possibly ceasing to be we are asked by Catholicism to read things into it that are not there. 


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