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Was Jesus an Only Child?


"In the Marcan text," writes Fr. James Heft, SM, "the people of Nazareth were asking where Jesus got all his wisdom – those people not only asked if Jesus was the son of Mary, but they also asked if James, Joseph and Judas were his brothers, and they referred to his sisters as well. Whether Mary had other children has been debated among Christians. The Catholic Church teaches these others were Jesus’ cousins. The Orthodox Church that they are Joseph’s children by a previous marriage, and many Protestant churches teach that they are the natural children of Mary and Joseph."

Does any of this discussion affect Jesus’ teaching?

In The Marian Blog, NCR books editor Arthur Jones invites a discussion on envisioning Mary, the mother of Jesus, in 21st-century terms.

Jones has been a Catholic journalist since before the Second Vatican Council. This month, Paulist Press releases his latest book, Mary, a Mother Waiting, Raising the Messiah. Jones describes his book as an exploration of the mother-son relationship of Mary and Jesus during the “hidden years,” until she eases him front and center into his ministry at Cana.

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In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


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