Cecil: Did Jesus have siblings?

In Greek, the words used about Him in Luke 2:7 (… and she brought forth her firstborn son. . .) is “prototokos huios” which means “first-born son” – which assumes more children born of Mary after Him.

If He was an only child, the Greek words would have been “monogenes huios” which means “only-begotten son” as is used of the young man raised to life outside of the village of Nain, the only son of a widow (Luke 7:12).

STANT6, welcome to the Straight Dope message boards. Glad to have you with us!

It is very helpful to provide a link to the column that you are commenting on. Keeps everyone on the same page, avoids needless repetition of points already made in the column, etc.

In this case: Did Jesus have siblings?

Thanks CK. Note taken.

This does not necessarily follow. First of all, the Gospels are not meant to be read as puzzles or riddles. Second, “firstborn son” has a specific significance within Judaism. Third, in the case of the widow’s son, the fact that he was her only son is important to the story; the fact that he was her firstborn son is not.

Oh, and fourth, this topic is a moldy-oldy that has already been discussed to death, here and elsewhere.

<< Second, “firstborn son” has a specific significance within Judaism. >>

“Firstborn” had significance in all ancient Near East cultures – and in modern western cultures, for that matter. However, the meaning within the ancient Israelite culture, and especially the Hebrew Bible, is quite different. In point of fact, the heritage or lineage or tradition is usually NOT passed through the first-born, in the Hebrew Bible. Abraham’s heritage goes through his second-born son Isaac, not through his first-born Ishmael. Isaac’s first born son Esau is rejected and his second-born son Jacob receives the blessing. Jacob’s successor is Joseph, 11th born. Moses has an older brother and sister. And so on.

David is the youngest son. Solomon is the youngest son. The following kings – most of whom are terrible – tend to transmit through the eldest son.

One of the amazing bits of the Hebrew Bible is that it rejects the notion of inheritance based on birth-order, and stresses virtue instead, almost always rejecting the first born.

The stories typically do that (no doubt as a corrective), but there are nevertheless special rules in Judaism involving firstborn sons. See Exodus 13. (In Jewish practice, this passage only applies, in fact, to a firstborn who is also a son. If the first child born is a daughter, there can never be a “firstborn son” for the purposes of the redemption ritual.)

Thank you for your thoughts, gentlemen.


Doubting Thomas was Jesus’ twin brother. His full name was Judas Thomas Didymos. “Didymos” means twin in Greek.


While we are casting doubt on the official story, Jesus survived crucifixion and traveled back to India. He is buried in Srinagar in Kashmir.


From the previous page on that website:

Matthew 12:46 states that “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.” Jesus had half-siblings; He was the first child Mary bore, but not the last.

Uh, Bev, you did read Cecil’s column, right?

And welcome to the Board.

Hi, Rube. Thanks for the welcome! Uhh… No, I didn’t read the column. Is that a prerequisite? (Just kidding.)

Actually, I found my way here from a Google search to one of his other columns (which I did read), then got immersed in the message boards without doing any other “pre-reading.”

If I can find my way to the column in question, I’ll read it. Thanks!

OK, found the column and read it. But it doesn’t change my answer. Should it?

Well, no, but it might have kept you from feeling the need to post in the first place, since you didn’t really add anything to what was discussed. This particular forum is “Comment on Cecil’s Columns”, and so it’s considered good form to read the column in question. Usually you can find a link in the first or second post in the thread.

Once again, welcome.