Bible Review 21:4, Fall 2005


Another Brother of Jesus

By Ben Witherington III

When Jesus preaches in his hometown synagogue, the locals are astounded. “Where did this man get all this? ... Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?” (Mark 6:3).

Readers of BR (and especially of its sister magazine Biblical Archaeology Review) have recently learned quite a bit about Jesus’ brother James, who assumed control of the Jerusalem church after Jesus died.1 But what do we know about the other brothers—say, Judas, or Jude, as he is more commonly known?

Jude is named quite clearly as Jesus’ brother in Mark 6:3 and the parallel passage in Matthew 13:55, but he is listed third in the earlier Markan text and fourth in Matthew. This may mean that he was (or was not!) the next brother in line after James to be the head of Jesus’ family, these things being determined by age. If not, this might in turn explain why he did not succeed James as head of the Jerusalem church. (Rather, Eusebius mentions a cousin of Jesus following James in Jerusalem, well after the Romans devastated the city in 70 A.D. Apparently, closer family members were not present to take over when James was martyred in 62 A.D.)

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