What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:12 am

There is now a second post on Paul, James and the brothers:

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/201 ... ike-jesus/

One focus is "Bayesian reasoning" in a practical implemetation, that is, without numbers, in the style of George Polya (Bayesian influenced, but not a Bayesian dogmatist).

Bottom line: Paul's two mentions of the brothers of the Lord are low-grade evidence that Jesus was survived by intimates (kin or disciples), because Paul was likely to have called somebody "the brother of the Lord" regardless, based on his general fondness for fraternal language and commitment to emphasizing distinctions among apostles.

This is just about the opposite of some "Guild" members' assesment (e.g. McGrath) that Paul's phrasing should settle the issue in their favor.

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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:22 am

Unless (a) there was a "brother-making" ritual in early Christianity or (b) the references were added to a Marcionite original edition of the Pauline canon. Look at the way heretics didn't have Jesus warning against those give "signs and wonders" in the future (like Luke). Heretics looked to those giving signs and wonders for leadership. Did the heretics really remove Matt 24:24? Or was Matt 24:24 added to change the way leaders were selected? Obviously the latter. So the canon can't be trusted as immaculate
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Paul the Uncertain
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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:17 am

It's not that there's a brother-making ritual, but rather that the prose style of the letters attributed to Paul favors fraternal language.

If Paul were writing about actual brothers, or about people whom he believes have had the same relation to Jesus as, say, Timothy has to Paul, then he would write about them as the brothers of the Lord.

That includes all cases where the author whom we identify as "Paul" is actually a creative writer who wishes to be mistaken for a First Century missionary writing a first-person epsitolary fiction.

Our problem is the inverse of the author's. We start with what we've found on the page. Somebody has written, and attributed to Paul, two remarks about the brother(s) of the Lord. We wish to estimate the plausibility that whoever wrote that intended to refer to actual brothers or actual colleagues of Jesus, within the world of the story the author is telling his reader.

We already know that it is very plausible that our author would write "brothers, etc." if that's what he meant. What becomes critical is for us to discern how plausible it would be that he'd write the same thing if he meant something else.

Turns out that that's very plausible, too. Hence, we cannot rely on the phrase as strong evidence about the nature of the relationship being described, regardless of whether "the world of the story" is our world or not.

As to Matthew 24:24 (which presumably is recycled Mark 13:22-23), it is interesting that Paul doesn't attribute signs and wonders to Jesus, but does seem to say that churchmen, including (some?) apostles, do such things. There is no foundation in Paul that I can see for interpreting the brothers of the Lord as those churchmen who are good at such feats, at least not based on an Origen-like interpretation of the phrase as "like Jesus." Doing feats isn't like Paul's Jesus.

On a personal level, I interpret Mark in general as sacralizing church magical practices by attributing similar feats to the divine founder. In that framework, Mark 13:22-23 articulates the obvious point that other people can do magic, too. So yes, it is fine for churchmen to do holy magic, but that ability isn't a strong basis to infer holiness. This comports with Mark's motif that demons (the epitome of unholiness) are both way ahead of the disciples in understanding what's going on with Jesus, and also manage some pretty impressive stunts, too.

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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:52 am

The third (and probably for now final) installment:

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/201 ... like-paul/

The previous installment considered Paul's habitual use of fraternal language, and whether he'd describe some churchmen that way if there were no literal brothers or companions of a historical Jesus. It wouldn't be at all surprising if he did.

The new installment looks more closely at the context in which Paul is reported to have used the phrase the brother(s) of the Lord. One issue is whether Paul met one James on both trips to Jerusalem, or a different James each time. A martyrdom interpretation of the fraternal phrase would help partially reconcile Galatians with Acts, although the martyred James in Acts was an associate of a historical Jesus.

The principal conclusion is just how poor a fit a kin-or-companion interpretation is with 1 Corinthians 9:5. The argument Paul makes there tells how Peter gets spousal support, other apostles get spousal support and the brothers of the Lord get spousal support. Therefore, give Paul and Barnabas ...um... support.

Being like Peter is a reason to give Paul money, and being like other apostles is a reason to give Paul money. Being like Jesus' family or friends is no reason to give Paul money. Paul is neither friend nor family of Jesus.

In contrast, if the phrase means "an exemplary apostle," being "like Jesus" perhaps based on willingness to accept physical suffering for the cause or serving as a community role model, then the fit with the rest of the argument is fine.

Taking all three installments as a whole, it is not a slam-dunk that Paul meant kin or companion of Jesus, because he may well have meant somebody who was both like Jesus and also like himself, some kind of especially distinguished churchman.

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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:03 am

If it is accepted that James & the pillars never became Christians, that would clinch brother(s) of the Lord as blood brother(s) of Jesus, as a James is said in Josephus' Antiquities.

Clues about the pillars not becoming Christians in any ways:
http://historical-jesus.info/108.html

One argument among many:

Paul mentioned the Church of Jerusalem and members several times (1 Cor 16:1,3; 2 Cor 8:4, 13-15; 9:1, 12-15; Ga l2:1-10; Ro 15:25-26, 31) and acknowledged them as "saints" (1 Cor 16:1; 2 Cor 8:4; 9:1, 12; Ro 15:25, 26, 31). But despite these many opportunities in his epistles, Paul never said those were "in the Lord", or "in Christ", or just "brothers". However he used often these expressions to qualify other(s) as "Christian(s)": 1 Th 2:14, 3:8, 4:16, 5:12; 1 Cor 3:1, 4:15, 17, 9:1-2, 15:18,58, 16:19, 24; 2 Cor 1:21, 2:14, 17, 12:2; Php 1:14, 3:1, 4:1-2, 4, 10, 21; Phm 1:6, 8, 16, 20, 23; Gal 1:22, 3:14, 26, 28; 5:10; Ro 8:1, 12:5, 16:3, 7-13, 22

Another remark from gMark:
Mk 8:29-30: "He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ". Then He strictly warned them [the disciples] that they should tell no one about Him."
That would explain why Peter & other disciples never said Jesus is/was Christ, for the remainder of their lives!

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:06 am

The immediate issues are whether Paul's two mentions of the Lord's brother(s) favor the hypothesis of a historical Jesus, yes they do, and that being the case, how strong is this evidence? That is, how well do the specific two mentions fit a typical historical Jesus hypothesis, compared with how well do they fit competitively plausible but incompatible hypotheses?

The score at the end of three innings: the mention of James fits "Paul met a kinsman or companion of Jesus" very well, but not prohibitively better than competing interpretations based on Paul's habitual use of fraternal language and concern with keeping track of distinctions among apostles. The mention of plural unnamed brothers fits "Paul knew of kinsmen or companions of Jesus" only about as well or less well than competing interpretations, but the difference here is also not prohibitive.

We can conclude that the two mentions do not decide the historicity question, contrary to some Guild claims. On the other hand, they are a secular foundation rooted in a primary source for the historical Jesus hypothesis. To some extent, then, the Guild is practicing normative history, not only theology or pastoral professional training.

With the historicity question thus securely identified as open, there are different hypotheses about James, Paul and Jesus. Paul and the pillars seem to feel they have something in common, enough to undertake a joint mission to Antioch, but they are not a monolithic grouping. The Antioch mission revealed some of the seams. It also revealed that Paul could continue as a fundraiser for a group led by somebody whom he portrays to potential donors as a hypocrite. Paul is a complicated fellow, but we knew that already.

On a point arising, the supposed mention of a James by Josephus is much weaker evidence for a sighting of an intimate of Jesus than Paul's remarks. Origen's misrecollection of what he read in Antiquities book 20 and the subsequent but still early accpetance of Origen's testimony by two saints completely explain the manuscript evidence that reaches us. Even if that were not a concern, it is not obvious why Josephus would be immune to misinterpreting in-group fraternal language, an error known to be prevalent in ancient outsiders' encounters with Christians.

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/201 ... w-brother/

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/201 ... o-do-that/

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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:15 am

I am surprised that no one in the history of this insipid question has noted that in Aramaic - the presumed language of early Christianity - 'brother' also means 'kinsman' or 'comrade' as well as fellow, equal, fellow-believer:
ˀḥ, ˀḥˀ (ˀaḥ, ˀaḥā [pl. ˀaḥḥīn]) n.m. brother


1 brother Com. KetefYer.B.3 : בר אחוהי ‏ . IduOstr 3:8.5 : יהבקוס אחוהי ‏ . TAD A2.1 R.2 : אל אחתי נניחם מן אחכי נבושה ‏ . TAD A6.14 .5 : או אחוהי או ברה ‏ or his brother or his son. IranSilLab : לחיוהי ולחיי אחוהי ודודהי ‏ . BT AZ 11b(20) : זיפנא אחוה דמרנא ‏ the brother of our master [i.e. Jacob] is a falsifier. (a) pl.: siblings Syr. IshNum 96:14 : ܬܠܬܐ ܐܚ̈ܐ ܚܢܢ‏ we (Moses, Aaron, and Miriam) are three siblings. (b) as the title of a functionary (?) Palmyrene.

2 kinsman, comrade Com. TAD B2.9 R.10 : ל[א] נכהל אנחנה ובנין ובנתן ואחין ואיש זילן ‏ we, our sons, our daughters, our kin, and anyone belonging to us shall not be able. SamPap.4..6 : בנן ואחן זילנ[א] ‏ . Ezra7:18 : וּמָה דִי עליך/עֲלָךְ/ וְעַל־אחיך/אֶחָךְ ‏ whatever is good for you and your brothers † . 4QTob b4.3.5=07:3 : מנאן אנתון אחי ‏ where are you from my kinfolk?. TN Deut25:11 : גבר ואחוי ‏ each and every man. PJ Deut15:3 : ית בר עממין תדחוק ודינא די יהוי לך עם אחוך תשמיט ידך ‏ you should press a gentile for payment but must drop a claim you might have against your kinsman. Tobit(Med) 11.13 chap 7 : הידעתון טובי אחונא ‏ do you know our kinsman PN?. (a) of a non human JBA. BT Er 51a(7) : תחותי דיקלא דסביל אחוה ‏ beneath a palm tree that is supporting its fellow. BT MQ 11a(39) : כוורא לטווייה באחוה אסוקיה באבוה מיכליה בבריה משתי עליה אבוה ‏ fish: he should broil it with its brother (salt or spice), place it in its father (water), eat it with its son (sauce? eggs?), and drink its father with it.
This would seem to settle the question of 'James the brother of the Lord' once and for all. Wait. Will all the people who have already engaged in trench warfare over this stupid issue suddenly allow themselves to adjust to the ACTUAL EVIDENCE? Of course not. Carry on arguing on behalf of the infallibility of your own reasoning.

More:
Ach is certainly related to the verb אחה - meaning "to join, to stitch". Despite the fact that the verb only appears in post-Biblical Hebrew, Klein writes that there is debate amongst scholars whether the verb derived from the noun, or the noun derived from the verb. Steinberg expands the root meaning "to join" to other words - ach אח - "fireplace", where people gather around, and achu אחו "reeds" (later "meadow"), which were used to make ropes for binding. However, modern scholarship has determined that both of these words were borrowed from Egyptian.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:59 am

Howdy, Secret
I am surprised that no one in the history of this insipid question has noted that in Aramaic - the presumed language of early Christianity - 'brother' also means 'kinsman' or 'comrade' as well as fellow, equal, fellow-believer:
I suppose it has something to do with the widespread belief that Greek was Paul's language of composition, and that his missionary destinations included places without a majority of Aramaic native speakers. Since we have no evidence that anybody except Paul had ever called anybody the brother(s) of the Lord, Greek usage looms large in an evidence-based discussion of Paul's use of that specific phrase for Galatian and Corinthian first audiences.

I don't think anybody has ever argued that Greek is exceptional in the availability of non-kinship meanings for kinship terms. Nor is Aramaic uniquely flexible in that regard compared with other languages. For example,

https://www.gooverseas.com/blog/essenti ... g-in-china

see item 8.

Aramaic usage may be more relevant to Josephus' mention of a James, but odds are (I believe) that in that case, Josephus' intended meaning was literal kinship, with the urgent issue for us being whose brother James literally was.

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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by Bernard Muller » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:48 am

If brother/sister is mentioned relative to someone, this brother/sister is related by blood to a human as in: Rom 16:15 "Greet Philol'ogus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olym'pas, and all the saints who are with them."
So "brother(s) of the Lord" would mean that Lord is human (that is earthly Jesus), and "brother(s) of the Lord" is by blood.
On a point arising, the supposed mention of a James by Josephus is much weaker evidence for a sighting of an intimate of Jesus than Paul's remarks. Origen's misrecollection of what he read in Antiquities book 20 and the subsequent but still early acceptance of Origen's testimony by two saints completely explain the manuscript evidence that reaches us. Even if that were not a concern, it is not obvious why Josephus would be immune to misinterpreting in-group fraternal language, an error known to be prevalent in ancient outsiders' encounters with Christians.
(Young) Josephus was a contemporary of (old) James and living in the same city (Jerusalem) for 5 to 10 years. So he must have known about the relationship of James with a Jesus, that Jesus being identified as "called Christ" as he was known to be called in the 90's when Josephus was writing Antiquities.

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: What did Paul mean by brother(s) of the Lord?

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:36 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:06 am
...................................................................

On a point arising, the supposed mention of a James by Josephus is much weaker evidence for a sighting of an intimate of Jesus than Paul's remarks. Origen's misrecollection of what he read in Antiquities book 20 and the subsequent but still early accpetance of Origen's testimony by two saints completely explain the manuscript evidence that reaches us. Even if that were not a concern, it is not obvious why Josephus would be immune to misinterpreting in-group fraternal language, an error known to be prevalent in ancient outsiders' encounters with Christians.

.........................................................

Assuming FTSOA the authenticity of our text of Antiquities book 20 about James and Jesus, although Josephus may not be good evidence that James was the biological brother of Jesus, the passage is prima-facie evidence of the existence of Jesus. It is most unlikely that the text as it stands intends to relate James to a mythical figure.

Andrew Criddle

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