Here is Carrier discussing 'Brother of the Lord'
Carrier, OHJ, pp582-592, on Brother of the Lord
"The last evidence historicists appeal to (and in my opinion the only actual evidence they have) is that twice Paul mentions "brothers of the Lord', once as a generic group (1 Cor. 9.5) and once naming a specific person as belonging to it: James (Gal. 1.19). The first of these appears where Paul argues as follows:
Am I not free? Am 1 not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you. For you are my seal of apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who are putting me on trial is this: Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along with us a sister as a wife, as also the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas do? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to give up working for our keep? (I Cor. 9.1-6).
"Note that this passage is out of place: the argument that Paul is answering has been lost (whatever charge he says he is defending himself against in 9.3). It would have been explained in the preceding verses, but in fact in the present letter, those verses are on a different and largely unrelated controversy (1 Cor. 8.1-13), and then the subject abruptly and inexplicably changes. Like other epistles. 1 Corinthians seems to be a mishmash of several letters, this being an example of where two were mashed together, and here the preceding part of whatever letter this came from was left out (a curious fact in itself).
"Nevertheless, from what Paul goes on to say we can tell he was accused of being a lazy moocher (or threatening to be), not earning his keep but just lying about and eating the Corinthians out of house and home. And Barnabas, too, apparently; and evidently a wife in their company (most likely the wife of Barnabas, as Paul elsewhere implies he did not marry: 1 Cor. 7.7-8). Paul seems to think every traveling minister was allowed to take his wife with him, to be fed by the community along with him, at least if she was a believer (a 'sister' of the Lord). Paul's defense is that every other traveling minister was allowed to do this—that is, to do no other work but minister to the congregation, and in return be fed at the congregation's expense. He goes on to cite scripture and commandments from Jesus (which on minimal mythicism he would have received by revelation) and other arguments in defense of the principle, but his first argument is to cite the fact that Paul and Barnabas are being singled out unfairly, that since everyone else got to do it, so should they.92
"It's important to note this context. Because Paul is not talking about the right to be married or have wives. He is only talking about the right to bring one with him when he travels and to expect the community to feed her and not expect her or him to work (beyond whatever church business they are traveling for). He is therefore only talking about Christians who are traveling on church business, which would have included not just apostles (those who received revelations of the Lord—the primary qualification he opens with—and thus who were sent by the Lord himself
'to minister) but Christians of other ranks and duties (those sent by human authorities to deliver letters or conduct inter-church business).
"Thus, when Paul says 'the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas' get to take wives with them on church business without having to work for their keep, he is not singling out the family of Jesus as some sort of specially privileged group never elsewhere mentioned by Paul— not even when he lists the ranks of people in the church (in 1 Cor. 12.28), where surely he would have mentioned it if the family of Jesus was being given special privileges and authority. Rather, Paul is talking about all other Christians, who were all 'brothers of the Lord' (Element 12).93
This is evident from the fact that Paul is unaware of any need here to distinguish biological from adoptive brothers. Since all baptized Christians were the brothers of the Lord, and all Christians knew this, Paul would need to be more specific when using this phrase of actual biological kin. Indeed, such a distinction would probably have become standard practice (such as by saying 'brothers of the Lord in the flesh'). Moreover, since other Christians besides apostles must have been in the position Paul has in mind (of traveling on church business and thus in need of being fed), we should expect him to have included them in his examples. Yet they are conspicuously absent if we assume he is talking only about Jesus' kin.
"It must be noted as well that Paul does not say here (or anywhere) 'brothers of Jesus', but 'brothers of the Lord', which can only be a cultic title. One does not become the brother of 'the Lord' until the person in question is hailed 'the Lord', thus the phrase 'brother of the Lord' is a creation of Christian ideology. Yes, one might have earned that cultic title by actually being the brother of Jesus. But as ample evidence shows, one would also have earned it by simply being a baptized Christian. Indeed, Paul seems quite certain that one could not have any special privilege from biological relation, because apart from what tasks God had assigned you to perform in the church (1 Cor. 12.28), all Christians are equals—as Paul says in Gal. 3.26-29, where he even specifically argues that we are all equally related as sons of the same family.
"Of course, it's possible (though not in evidence) that the use of the phrase 'brothers of the Lord' was being policed in such a fashion that it was only ever used of Jesus' actual kin. And thus, even though every Christian was in fact a brother of the Lord and all knew it, they were forbidden to refer to themselves with that specific sequence of words—instead they could only call themselves 'brother', and the fact that it was 'of the Lord' would then be understood but never written or spoken in that exact way.94
In such a case, Paul could use that phrase without further qualification and always be understood to mean Jesus' actual kin. But this presumes an unlikely fact not in evidence (this unusual policing of terminology within church communications), and any theory that requires us to resort to such a thing is less probable than a theory that does not.95
Whereas without that implausible assumption, 'brother of the Lord' would mean any baptized Christian whatever (again: Element 12).
"Moreover, it is just as likely such policing of the phrase occurred in the other
direction, and that only Christians who had obtained the highest stage of initiation were allowed to be referred to with the complete phrase 'brother of the Lord'. This would match what Clement of Alexandria reports, that Christians achieving the highest stage of initiation were alone fully heirs, and thus fully
the sons of God (and so just as fully the brothers of the
son of God: see Element 13). Since this is just as likely (or just as unlikely), even the possibility that the phrase 'brother of the Lord' was policed to mean only biological kin is then washed out by the equal possibility it was policed to mean only apostles of supreme rank. As either is as likely on prior considerations, neither prevails. And still more likely than both is that 'brothers of the Lord' is simply what Christians commonly called themselves before they acquired the name 'Christian' (an appellation Paul shows no knowledge of). The use of the complete phrase would then not be necessary other than occasionally for emphasis, hence Paul repeatedly speaks of Christians being simply 'the brethren', because everyone understood that was shorthand for 'brethren of the Lord'.
"This makes 'brother of the Lord meant Christian' the simplest hypothesis (it requires the fewest ad hoc
assumptions). Furthermore, that it would mean that is actually in evidence (we know all Christians in Paul's time deemed themselves brothers of the Lord in cultic fact), whereas that it meant something else is not. Not one time in all of Paul's letters does he ever say or even imply that this phrase means only biological
brothers—or apostles of supreme rank, for that matter, unless that's implied by the sequence in 1 Cor. 9.5, if that sequence is supposed to indicate ascending rank: apostles, supreme apostles, and supremest apostle (i.e. Cephas). There being apostles of higher rank could also be implied by'the twelve'(in 1 Cor. 15.5) or'the pillars' (in Gal. 2.9). Could these higher ranked apostles be the biological brothers of Jesus? One would sooner think that the higher ranked apostles would be the disciples (a group once again notably completely absent here—more evidence Paul knew of no such group), or (as just noted) the pillars or the twelve (which were in no account the family of Jesus).
"In fact, there is no evidence anywhere (even outside of Paul) that the brothers of Jesus were deemed as a collective whole to be the highest ranking apostles. So that cannot be what Paul means here. Nor can he mean ascending ranks at all. He can only mean that all the other apostles, even regular Christians, and even Cephas himself, get this privilege and so should Paul. Because Paul's argument requires that the Corinthians would agree Paul has the same rights as all three examples Paul names, which entails Paul cannot
mean these examples to be ascending in rank—otherwise he could easily be rebutted by pointing out to him that he doesn't get the privileges of ranks he has not attained. So Paul can only be assuming none
of these groups outrank him (and furthermore, for his argument to work, he can only be assuming that the Corinthians would agree
). Because Paul's argument is that he should have the same
rights as they do. And since he says 'the other apostles', he is including himself in that rank, so he cannot mean he has the same rights as 'the brothers of the Lord and Cephas' unless 'the brothers of the Lord and Cephas' were consistently understood to ha\ e no more rights than apostles.
"Therefore, Paul must mean by 'brothers of the Lord' here simply Christians—and in particular, Christians below
apostolic rank. That finally make? the point of his argument clear: if even regular Christians were being given this privilege (of being supported by the communities they traveled to on church business), then surely Paul
should be, being an actual apostle. He is thus arguing a fortiori
. Likewise, by mentioning Cephas. Paul clearly assumes the Corinthians understood Cephas (i.e. Peter) and himself to be equals and deserving of equal rights. Paul assumes this elsewhere, toe (1 Cor. 1.12 and 3.22). Probably Cephas was known to frequently travel with his wife (more so than other apostles Paul might have named). In any case, what is required for Paul's argument is that Cephas and Paul were of equal rank, and thus whatever Cephas got, the Corinthians would be forced to agree Paul should get. Otherwise Paul could not use Cephas to make this argument. And the same entails that Paul cannot mean the biologies, brothers of Jesus: for how could Paul expect the Corinthians to assume was the equal of even the Lord's own family? Unless the Corinthians would already have agreed that their being his family gained them no special privileges—but then, if that were the case, why would Paul single them out as an example?
"Thus, Paul's argument here would make no sense if he was talking about the family of Jesus. But it makes perfect sense if he was talking about Christians as a whole, and especially Christians of lower rank than himself. Against this conclusion historicists can refer only to evidence outside the Epistles, but that does not support them. The Gospels, as we saw, do conceive brothers for Jesus (and even name them), but then essentially declare that Jesus renounced them (see Chapter 10, §4). The authors of the Gospels show no knowledge of these brothers even having been believers
, much less apostles; even less, privileged ones. Except Luke, who alone imagines them in the first congregation (in Acts 1), but then shows no knowledge of them ever doing anything, much less being apostles; even less, apostles of special status. For none of them appear anywhere in Acts' record of the church's public history (see Chapter 9, §3). That they don't exist in the earliest recorded history of the church argues for the conclusion that they didn't exist altogether. It certainly does not argue for the opposite conclusion, that they were a recognized privileged group in church leadership. No brothers of Jesus are found anywhere else in the NT, either; not even letters with their names on them claim such (see §3). And when it comes to evidence outside the NT, we already saw how ridiculous and unreliable it all is on exactly this point (see Chapter 8).
"So Paul is surely just referring to non-apostolic Christians in 1 Cor. 9.5, and not to the family of Jesus. What about his one other reference to this category? To the Galatians Paul explains:
When it was the good pleasure of the God who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that 1 might preach him among the Gentiles. I did not confer with flesh and blood right away, nor did I go to Jerusalem to those that were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia and again 1 returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went to Jerusalem, to consult with Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days, but I did not see any other of the apostles, except James the brother of the Lord. And look, these things I'm writing to you, by God, I'm not lying! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by face to the congregations of Judea that were in Christ (Gal. 1.15-22).
part2 follows ...