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The Brethren of the Lord

The Brethren of the Lord

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Published by glennpease

BY J. B. LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D.,


IN the early ages of the Church two conflicting opinions Two rival
were held regarding the relationship of those who in the
Gospels and Apostolic Epistles are termed ' the brethren of the

Lord.

BY J. B. LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D.,


IN the early ages of the Church two conflicting opinions Two rival
were held regarding the relationship of those who in the
Gospels and Apostolic Epistles are termed ' the brethren of the

Lord.

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Published by: glennpease on Feb 20, 2013
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THE BRETHREN OF THE LORDBY J. B. LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D.,IN the early ages of the Church two conflicting opinions Two rivalwere held regarding the relationship of those who in theGospels and Apostolic Epistles are termed ' the brethren of the1 The interest in this subject, whichwas so warmly discussed towards theclose of the fourth century, has beenrevived in more recent times by thepublication of Herder's Briefe zweenerBriider Jesu in unserem Kanon (1775),in which the Helvidian hypothesis isput forward. Since then it has formedthe subject of numberless monographs,dissertations, andincidental comments.The most important later works, withwhich I am acquainted, are those of Blom, De ToisdSeX^otsetrats d5e\-0cus rou KvpLov (Leyden, 1839); of Schaf, Das Verhdltniss des Jakobus Bru-ders des Herrn zu Jakobus Alphdi (Ber-lin, 1842) ; and of Mill, The accounts of our Lord's Brethren in the New Testa-ment vindicated etc. (Cambridge, 1843).The two former adopt the Helvidianview ; the last is written in support of St Jerome's hypothesis. Blom givesthe most satisfactory statement whichI have seen of the patristic authorities,and Schaf discusses the Scriptural argu-ments most carefully. I am also largelyindebted to the ability and learning of Mill's treatise, though he seems to meto have mistaken the general tenor of ecclesiastical tradition on this subject.Besides these monographs I have alsoconsulted, with more or less advantage,articles on the subject in works of re-ference or periodicals, such as those inStudien u. Kritiken by Wieseler; DieSohne Zebedai Vettern des Herrn (1840,p. 648), and Ueber die Briider des Herrn,etc. (1842, p. 71). In preparing forthe second edition I looked over thecareful investigation in Laurent's Neu-test. Studien p. 155 sq (1866), wherethe Helvidian hypothesis is maintain-ed, but saw no reason to make anychange in consequence The works of 
 
Arnaud, Recherches sur VEpitredeJude,and of Goy (Mont. 1845), referred to inBishop Ellicott's Galatiansi. 19, 1 havenot seen. My object in this disserta-tion is mainly twofold; (1) To place theHieronymian hypothesis in its truelight, as an effort of pure criticism un-supported by any traditional sanction ;and (2) To say a word on behalf of theEpiphanian solution, which seems, atleast of late years, to have met with thefate reserved for T& /Afoa in literatureand theology, as well as in politics, vir'a/uL<f>oTt pwv T] 8rt ov ^vvrjywvl^ovTO ?j<f>66v({) TOV wepteivai dietfrdetpovro. I sup-pose it was because he considered it idleto discuss a theory which had no friends,that Prof. Jowett (on Gal. i. 19), whilebalancing the claims of the other twosolutions, does not even mention theexistence of this, though in the earlycenturies it was the received account.124 THE BRETHREN OF THE LORD.Lord/ On the one hand it was maintained that no bloodrelationship existed; that these brethren were in fact sons of Joseph by a former wife, before he espoused the Virgin; andthat they are therefore called the Lord's brethren only in thesame way in which Joseph is called His father, having really noclaim to this title but being so designated by an exceptionaluse of the term adapted to the exceptional fact of the miracu-lous incarnation. On the other hand certain persons arguedthat the obvious meaning of the term was the correct meaning,and that these brethren were the Lord's brethren as truly asMary was the Lord's mother, being her sons by her husbandJoseph. The former of these views was held by the vastmajority of orthodox believers and by not a few heretics ; thelatter was the opinion of a father of the Church here and thereto whom it occurred as the natural inference from the languageof Scripture, as Tertullian for instance, and of certain sects andindividuals who set themselves against the incipient worship of the Virgin or the one-sided asceticism of the day, and to whomtherefore it was a very serviceable weapon of controversy.A third Such was the state of opinion, when towards the close of propound-ed by the fourth century Jerome struck out a novel hypothesis. OneHelvidius, who lived in Rome, had attacked the prevailingview of the superiority of virgin over married life, and in doingso had laid great stress on the example of the Lord's motherwho had borne children to her husband. In or about the year383 Jerome, then a young man, at the instigation of 'the
 
brethren' wrote a treatise in reply to Helvidius, in which heput forward his own view 1 . He maintained that the Lord'sbrethren were His cousins after the flesh, being sons of Marythe wife of Alphseus and sister of the Virgin. Thus, as heboasted, he asserted the virginity not of Mary only but of Joseph also.Names These three accounts are all of sufficient importance either. -, -ITtcTthese from their real merits or from their wide popularity to deservethree.1 Adv. Helvidium de Perpetua Virginitate B. Mariae, n. p. 206 (ed. Vail.).Comp. Comment, ad Gal. i. 19.THE BRETHREN OF THE LORD. 5consideration, and I shall therefore investigate their severalclaims. As it will be convenient to have some short mode of designation, I shall call them respectively the Epiphanian, theHelvidian, and the Hieronymian theories, from the names of their most zealous advocates in the controversies of the fourthcentury when the question was most warmly debated.But besides the solutions already mentioned not a fewothers have been put forward. These however have been forthe most part built upon arbitrary assumptions or improbable Arbitrarycombinations of known facts, and from their artificial character ^ons^have failed to secure any wide acceptance. It is assumed forinstance, that two persons of the same name, James the son of Alphaeus and James the Lord's brother, were leading membersof the Church of Jerusalem, though history points to one only 1 ;or that James the Lord's brother mentioned in St Paul'sEpistles is not the same James whose name occurs among theLord's brethren in the Gospels, the relationship intended bythe term ' brother' being different in the two cases 2 ; or that'brethren' stands for 'foster-brethren,' Joseph having under-taken the charge of his brother Clopas' children after theirfather's death 3 ; or that the Lord's brethren had a doubleparentage, a legal as well as an actual father, Joseph havingraised seed to his deceased brother Clopas by his widow accord-ing to the levirate law 4 ; or lastly, that the cousins of Jesuswere rewarded with the title of His brethren, because theywere His steadfast disciples, while His own brothers opposedHim 5 .All such assumptions it will be necessary to set aside. In to be setaside.1 e.g. Wieseler Ueber die Briider etc. , the son of Alphseus the successor of theI.e., p. 80 sq. According to this writ- Lord's brother.er the James of Gal. ii. 9 and of the 2 The writers mentioned in Schaf,

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