Mary: Evidence shows different outcome

Tue, 07/31/2007 - 4:50pm
By: Letters to the ...

I would like to respectfully disagree with Mr. Murphy’s conclusion that the cumulative evidence from the Bible shows that Jesus had siblings.

First of all, Mr. Murphy’s assumption, based on John 7:3-5, that none of Jesus’ (theoretical) siblings believed in Him at the time of His public ministry cannot be true, because Gal 1:19 explicitly refers to “James, the Apostle, the brother of the Lord.”

If we accept Mr. Murphy’s interpretation of this passage, we must assume that this James is the same “brother” referred to in Mark 6:3, where Joses, Judas, and Simon are also listed as “brothers.”

However, James the Apostle cannot be the Lord’s brother because neither of the two James mentioned in the list of the Apostles at the beginning of Matthew 10 are referred to as “the son of Joseph;” one is the son of Alphaeus, the other is the son of Zebedee.

Obviously this man wasn’t Jesus’ brother, and if he wasn’t one of the Lord’s siblings then the other people mentioned in Mark 6:3 probably weren’t either.

In light of this, I agree with Mr. Hoffman in saying that when the New Testament refers to “brothers of the Lord” it is probably talking about cousins.

It is true, as Mr. Murphy mentioned, that the New Testament was written in Greek, where there was a word that could be used to specifically designate a cousin.

However, in the Old Testament (most of which was originally written in Hebrew) the word “brother” was used to designate a relative, as is seen in Gen 14:14, where older English translations actually call Lot Abraham’s brother, though Lot was actually Abraham’s nephew (it should be noted that many of the modern translators have taken this apparent discrepancy into account and call Lot Abraham’s kinsman).

This wording (a del phos) of Gen 14:14 was kept when the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was made, and the Jewish writers of the New Testament would have kept this wording when writing their books.

The exception that Mr. Murphy mentions (Luke 21:16) was just that: an exception. Jesus wished to make a distinction between siblings and relatives in this passage, so He did. If He had wished not to make this distinction, He could just have used the word family.

Also, J. B. Lightfoot’s point that St. Jerome pleaded no traditional defense of his “cousin theory” may be true, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t defendable.

The early Church Father Athanasius referred to the “Ever-Virgin Mary” in his work “The Monk’s History of Arian Impiety,” which was written in 358 A.D. This predates St. Jerome’s biblical “cousin theory” by 25 years, but more important is the fact that St. Athanasius doesn’t speak about Mary’s perpetual virginity as if it were something novel; he simply mentions it in passing, as if it were something that had been long established.

Lastly, concerning Mr. Murphy’s statement that one should not trust what churches say, but that they should read the Bible: if one’s authority is the Bible alone, the question that arises is, “Who has the authority to interpret the Bible?”

Mr. Murphy and I have both read scripture, and in this instance we have come to two very different conclusions concerning it. Who is right?

If we use the Bible alone, we can both claim to be right, because we can both claim to have been led to our separate conclusions by the Holy Spirit, and no one can tell us otherwise. This leads to doctrinal uncertainty, and that can’t have been what Jesus intended (1 Cor 1:10).

Judging by 2 Thess. 2:15, which talks about written and unwritten tradition, and 1 Tim. 3:15, which calls the Church the protector and defender of the Truth (notice that it doesn’t say the written Truth) I think that we can conclude that Jesus left us a Church that had the authority to make judgments concerning doctrinal disputes, the authority to bind and loose (Mt 16:18-19).

Ethan Milukas

Peachtree City, Ga.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 3:56pm.

Lastly, concerning Mr. Murphy’s statement that one should not trust what churches say, but that they should read the Bible: if one’s authority is the Bible alone, the question that arises is, “Who has the authority to interpret the Bible?”

So how is this supposed to go? If I don't have an official, inspired interpreter of scripture who tells me what it means, if I am left to my own resources, then I'm left to flounder aimlessly among the myriad spins that have been put on it?

So suppose that there is a difficult passage, say, Hezekiah 4:8, which reads, "And he was that he was not so that those who are to come have been."

People wrangled over this for decades. So a council was convened--the Schmouncil Council of 716. All properly ordained and functioning with full Papal sanctioning, they arrive at the following interpretation:

"'He,' meaning the only begotten one, preceded all things. Holy Writ further affirms that He 'was not' in that he was unmarred by sin and evil. 'Those who are to come' are the blessed elect. They 'have been' in that he foreknew, from eternity, that they would come. Amen."

This was pretty good for a while. Then someobody asked, "But what does the Schmouncil Edit really mean?!"

And so there was great dispute and wrangling and not a little gnashing of teeth.

Thus, The Second Schmouncil Council of 832 was convened to explain the meaning of the First Schmouncil Council and its interpretation of Scripture.

Schmouncil II spawned Schmouncil III nearly a century later, and so on.

Look, if I'm left to my resources to understand the Official Interpretation, then why weren't those very resources adequate for the original item?

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 6:08pm.

Organized religion, by its very name, can not allow you or anyone else to interpret the Bible. What would be left for them to do, and besides, there would be far too many interpretations by people who are not Papally sanctioned, pious, Schmouncil people, official-inspired councils of the hierarchy!
One must first believe in the teachings of the church, and then, if you do, living by the rules is easy----good or bad! Also, you are guaranteed safety from hell.
I probably believe in a supreme being as much as most church goers, but eh difference is the rigmarole they go through from something written down by some other human.

Submitted by stubbornbull84 on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 3:25am.

The bible was written over 2,000 years ago, it has been translated numourous times, edited by royalty who wanted to have their way in a world ruled by religion.

When you translate something a lot of times you come across a word that may have two words in another language, which do you pick? The translator picks which word he *thinks* is the right one, but what if he's wrong? The two words can have a subtle difference or it can be totally the opposite. With this being done so many times over the past 2,000 years, how can we be sure that the bible is entirely factual? The same goes with royalty getting their hands on it. How do we know that there were not parts taken out, or simply added? The bible is an interesting book, but are we sure it's non-fiction?


Submitted by bladderq on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 8:00pm.

I had an acquaintance in Athens (UGA) back in the '70's who opposed nuke energy. His point was that the bible was 2000 (less than 4000 total) and no one could show an original piece. Could not even keep up w/ this important doc. for 2000 years. So, how could we keep w/ nuke waste for 250,000 years. Who'll know we put it in that mtn in Nevada?
I somewhat digress. I remember reading the "Dead Sea Srolls" (in the 60's when the book came out) and there were several interpetations of Hebrew words and how you wanted to read them. The exaple I remember was that either Jesus could have "Walked on the water." OR he could have "Walked by the water."

Basically, I've told my kids either you Believe or you don't. That's why it's calle FAITH. Not picking on him but I am sure that Mitt Romney, Believes the Book of Mormon, as does the convert Harry Reid.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Tue, 08/07/2007 - 7:43am.

Well, first, Jesus is never mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in a cave in Qumran in the 1940s and are widely thought to have been produced by a Jewish sect known as ther Essenes. So perhaps it was something else that you recall having read.

There were not a few "Gnostic gospels" that appeared in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The so-called Gospel of Judas, of recent Discovery Channel fame was one of these. They typically ascribed esoteric teachings to Jesus. For instance, in Judas, we find Jesus often rhapsodizing over astrological signs, etc. The early church roundly and rightly rejected these, not for reasons given in Da Vinci Code-type conspiracy theories, but because it was recognized that these aimed to import an eclectic mishmash of philosophies into the original Christian faith (much like present-day New Age mishmashers).

And the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew.

The passage regarding Jesus' "walking on water" employs the Greek preposition epi. Whoever you read was correct: epi is not restricted to just one translation. But here, like anywhere else, common sense and context go a long way towards understanding what the text is saying.

Here is Matthew's account:

But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Try substituting "beside" for each occurrence of "on." You then have a story of the disciples seeing Jesus walking along the beach. Peter makes so bold as to ask if he, too, might walk along the beach. Jesus says, "Sure, be my guest!" Peter manages his way out of the boat until, for a time, he, too, is walking on the beach. Ah, but then he begins to sink!. QUICKSAND! Help, Jesus! (Here, images from old Tarzan movies come to mind.)

One may be free to discount the whole passage as a bit of mythology. Then the discussion turns to the possibility of miracles, different views of metaphysics and the difference that this makes for the believability of miracle accounts, the historicity of the man Jesus of Nazareth, etc. But the passage itself pretty clearly alleges that Jesus--and, briefly, Peter--did something extraordinary.

The passage ends with the disciples saying, "Of a truth you are the Son of God." Hey, I walk on the beach every morning when I'm in Cocoa Beach. No one has ever approached me and said anything like that, despite my sandals and beard.

Submitted by ServusChristi on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 12:22pm.

Shawn, we can trust that the Bible has been accurately handed down to us for a couple of reasons. First of all, because the Bible was such a popular book in the ancient world, it was copied and translated many times, and many of these copies and translations are still in existence today. While there are small discrepancies between all of these copies, most of them coincide remarkably well. When a large number of copies transmit a passage in a certain way, we can assume that the original passage said basically the same thing. Second, archaeologists have discovered ancient fragments of the New Testament, dating all the way back to 100 AD, that match our modern New Testament perfectly. In light of these and other reasons, scholars today estimate that our modern Bible is 98% or 99% pure.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Mon, 08/06/2007 - 5:38am.

Well Bull, here is the way it has been explained before:

There were also several chapters of the "bible" that were left out due to conflicts with those already chosen. They have yet to be picked up.

But, the general attitude of the "church" is that really holy people of our civilized early history had long and strenuous meeting to decide what the Bible meant, and then they approved their conclusions and sanctified it. We are to believe those conclusions!
Otherwise we have Chaos! Occasionally, the Pope or someone will slightly revise those conclusions.
What is important, as I see it, is to be at peace in your mind with your life and have faith in yourself doing what is correct snd right.
What other people write may appeal to you but it could be wrong.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.