#1 The Controversial Question: Did Mary Have One Child or Several Children?

Episode One – This article relates to Jesus’ family history. It inspired me with the name for this website. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Introduction

I’ve been writing my own family history and got really into it.  Then through a sermon I heard online on the Feast of St Joseph I started to wonder about Jesus’ family history and if I wrote it out, how it would sound as a family history.

I started to investigate using the documents of the New Testament as my sources.  What sprang out is the realness of the story surrounding Jesus – he came from a real family and like us he had some of the problems we have all had with our own families.

I originally wrote this article in May 2020 when I was going to a Catholic church online.  Since then I have been going to some Evangelical churches so I’m not quite sure whether this article will sound very Catholic or whether it will come over as an Evangelical view on a traditionally Catholic subject?  Whichever angle I’m coming from, my aim is to dig down to the truth behind the Bible.

I have ascertained that Jesus’ immediate family actually came from Judea, probably Jerusalem on both sides of the family – Joseph’s and Mary’s family.  When I say both sides what I mean is that Joseph played the paternal role of father, but Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Controversial questions:

  • Was the Virgin Mary a virgin only until she gave birth to the Saviour, or was she perpetually virgin as claimed by Catholics?
  • Who were Jesus’ brothers and sisters mentioned quite a few times in the gospels and in Acts?
  • What sort of deal did Joseph get in this marriage?

I will attempt to answer these three questions such that everyone can agree on what the Bible actually teaches.

I mentioned a sermon.  Catholics will immediately say, the Feast of St Joseph is on the 19th of March.  But, in fact, this was the Feast of St Joseph the Worker which is on the 1st of May.  This shows from the outset that a thing can appear to be obviously wrong, which later emerges is true.  Joseph the Worker was a carpenter and Jesus became a carpenter.  The priest who gave the sermon in this feast day mass was explaining that as Catholics we believe that the Virgin Mary was virgin at the conception of Jesus (the Incarnation), virgin at the birth of Jesus, and virgin in her marriage to Joseph.

He explained that the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in the gospels were children of a previous marriage of Joseph.  In other words, when Joseph’s first wife had died, he had married Mary and been much older than her.  He had a normal first marriage producing about eight children, and then when he married Mary he did not have union with her during this, his second marriage.  This virginal marriage is not what Joseph would have chosen, the priest stated.

I had always been given to understand that the brothers of Jesus mentioned in the gospels were, in fact, first cousins of Jesus.  I now see, however, that this would not make sense at all of the Bible texts.

If the ‘brothers’ mentioned had been first cousins, they would have a different set of parents and they would have remained living in Jerusalem and not gone to Nazareth with Joseph and Mary.  Also, they would have spent their time with their own parents and not gone everywhere with Mary.

Why Nazareth?

Joseph came from the tribe of Judah whose territory was Jerusalem and Judea.  He had no connection to Nazareth and did not come from there.  Mary also had her relatives in the hill country of Judea and all of them connected to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem.  They also descended from King David.

To say that Mary came from Nazareth appears to be totally untrue.  Tradition and extra biblical sources say that Mary was a ward of the Temple in Jerusalem and lived there in the Temple.  It took me a long time to sort this out, and I was thinking that it was an error on the part of the gospel writer Luke until I discovered the truth behind it.  Mary through her mother Anne was from the tribe of Asher.  The tribe of Asher was amongst the ten lost tribes of the Northern Kingdom, and their territory was in Galilee.  Their town was Nazareth.  Mary went to Nazareth because she had relatives there on her mother’s side, and in the tribal sense ‘came from Nazareth.’

To be continued

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