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The Brethren of the Lord

21. Epiphanius a native of Palestine became bishop of EpiphaConstantia in Cyprus in the year 367. Not very long before Jerome wrote in defence of the perpetual virginity of the Lord's mother against the Helvidians at Rome, Epiphanius came forward as the champion of the same cause against the Antidicomarianites. He denounced them in an elaborate pastoral letter, in which he explains his views at length, and which he

has thought fit to incorporate in his subsequently written treatise against Heresies (pp. 1034—1057, ed. Petav.). He moreover discusses the subject incidentally in other parts of his great work (pp. 115, 119, 432, 636), and it is clear that he had devoted much time and attention to it. His account coincides with that of the apocryphal gospels. Joseph, he states, was eighty years old or more when the Virgin was espoused to him; by his former wife he had six children, four sons and two daughters, the names of the daughters were Mary and Salome, for which names by the way he alleges the authority of Scripture p. 1041); his sons, St James especially, were called the Lord's brethren because they were brought up with Jesus; the mother of the Lord remained for ever a virgin; as the lioness is said to exhaust her fertility in the production of a single offspring (see Herod, iii. 108), so she who bore the Lion of Judah could not in the nature of things become a mother a second time (pp. 1044, 1045). These particulars with many other besides he gives, quoting as his authority 'the tradition of the Jews' (p. 1039). It is to be observed moreover that, though he thus treats of the subject several times and at great length, he never once alludes to the Hieronymian account; and yet I can scarcely doubt that one who so highly extolled celibacy would have hailed with delight a solution which, as Jerome boasted, saved the virginity not of Mary only but of Joseph also, for whose honour Epiphanius shows himself very jealous (pp. 1040, 1046, 1047). Helvidius, 22. Somewhere about the year 380 Helvidius, who reand Jovi- sided in Rome, published a treatise in which he maintained nianus. ^na^ tne LoroYg brethren were sons of Joseph and Mary. He seems to have succeeded in convincing a considerable number of persons, for contemporary writers speak of the Helvidians as a party. These views were moreover advocated by Bonosus, bishop of Sardica in Ulyria, about the same time, and apparently also by JoviNlANUS a monk probably of Milan. The former was condemned by a synod assembled at Capua (a.d. 392), and the latter by synods held at Rome and at Milan (about A.D. 390; see Hefele Conciliengesch. n. pp. 47, 48)\

1 The names are plainly terms of identification.

ridicule invented by their enemies. Au- Epiphanius had heard that these

gastine supposes the 'Antidicoma- opinions, which he held to be deroga

rianitffi' of Epiphanius (he writes the tory to the Lord's mother, had been

word 'Antidicoinaritse') to be the same promulgated also by the elder Apol

as the Helvidians of Jerome (adv. linaris or some of his disciples; but

Haer. 84, vra. p. 24). They held the he doubted about this (p. 1034). The

same tenets, it is true, but there report was probably circulated by their

seems to have been otherwise no con- opponents in order to bring discredit

nexion between the two. Gonsidera- upon them. i tions of time and place alike resist this

Motive of In earlier times this account of the Lord's brethren, so far as the Helvidians. it was the badge of a party, seems to have been held in conjunction with Ebionite views respecting the conception and person of Christ1. For, though not necessarily affecting the belief in the miraculous Incarnation, it was yet a natural accompaniment of the denial thereof. The motive of these latter impugners of the perpetual virginity was very different. They endeavoured to stem the current which had set strongly in the direction of celibacy; and, if their theory was faulty, they still deserve the sympathy due to men who in defiance of public opinion refused to bow their necks to an extravagant and tyrannous superstition.

1 The work ascribed to Dorotheas the Lord's brother and James the son

Tyrius is obviously spurious (see Cave of Alphaus, and makes them successive

Hist. Lit. I. p. 163); and I have there- bishops of Jerusalem. See Combens

fore not included his testimony in this in Fabricius' Hippol. I. app. p. 36. list. The writer distinguishes James

We have thus arrived at the point of time when Jerome's Evidence answer to Helvidius created a new epoch in the history of this up controversy. And the following inferences are, if I mistake not, fairly deducible from the evidence produced. First: there is not the slightest indication that the Hieronymian solution ever occurred to any individual or sect or church, until it was put forward by Jerome himself. If it had been otherwise, writers like Origen, the two Hilaries, and Epiphanius, who discuss the question, could not have failed to notice it. Secondly: the Epiphanian account has the highest claims to the sanction of tradition, whether the value of this sanction be great or small. Thirdly: this solution seems especially to represent the Palestinian view.

In the year 382 (or 383) Jerome published his treatise; and Jerome's the effect of it is visible at once.

Ambrose in the year 392 wrote a work Be Institviione Ambrose. Virginia, in which he especially refutes the impugners of the perpetual virginity of the Lord's mother. In a passage which is perhaps intentionally obscure he speaks to this effect: 'The

1 [I fear the statement in the text 'This appellation ('brethren') was at may leave a false impression. Previous first understood in the most obvious writers had spoken of the Ebionites as sense, and it was supposed that the holding the Helvidian view, and I was brothers of Jesus were the lawful issue betrayed into using similar language. of Joseph and Mary. A devout respect But there is, so far as I am aware, no for the virginity of the mother of God evidence in favour of this assumption. suggested to the Gnostics, and afterIt would be still more difficult to sub- wards to the Orthodox Greeks, the exstantiate the assertions in the following pedient of bestowing a second wife on note of Gibbon, Decline and Fall c. xvi, Joseph, etc.'] 2nd ed. 1866.

term brothers has a wide application; it is used of members of the same family, the same race, the same country. Witness the Lord's own words / will declare thy name to my brethren (Ps. xxii. 22). St Paul too says: / could wish to be accursed for my brethren (Rom. ix. 3). Doubtless they might be called brothers as sons of Joseph, not of Mary. And if any one will go into the question carefully, he will find this to be the true account. For myself I do not intend to enter upon this question: it is of no importance to decide what particular relationship is implied; it is sufficient for my purpose that the term "brethren" is used in an extended sense (i.e. of others besides sons of the same mother)1.' From this I infer that St Ambrose had heard of, though possibly not read, Jerome's tract, in which he discourses on the wide meaning of the term: that, if he had read it, he did not feel inclined to abandon the view with which he was familiar in favour of the novel hypothesis put forward by Jerome: and lastly, that seeing the importance of cooperation against a common enemy he was anxious not to raise dissensions among the champions of the perpetual virginity by the discussion of details.

Pelagius. Pelagius, who commented on St Paul a few years after Jerome, adopts his theory and even his language, unless his text has been tampered with here (Gal. i. 19).

Augustine. At the same time Jerome's hypothesis found a much more weighty advocate in St Augustine. In his commentary on the Galatians indeed (i. 19), written about 394 while he was still a presbyter, he offers the alternative of the Hieronymian and Epiphanian accounts. But in his later works he consistently maintains the view put forward by Jerome in the treatise against Helvidius (In Joh. Evang. x, HI. 2. p. 368, ib. xxviii, in. 2. p. 508; Enarr. in Ps. cxxvii, IV. 2. p. 1443; Contr. Faust, xxii. 35, vm. p. 383; comp. Quaest. X VII in Matth., HI. 2. p. 285).

1 The passage, which I have thus Quod quidem si quis diligentius proseparaphrased, is ' Fratres autem gentis, quatur inveniet. Nos ea prosequenda et generis, populi quoque consortium non putavimus, quoniam fraternum nonuncuparidooetDominus ipse qui dicit: men liquet pluribus esse commune' Narrabo nomen tuum fratribus meis; (u. p. 260, ed. Ben.). St Ambrose in medio ecclesiae laudabo te. Paulus seems to accept so much of Jerome's quoque ait: Optabamego anathema esse argument as relates to the wide use pro fratribiu meis. Potuerunt autem of the term 'brothers' and nothing fratres esse ex Joseph, non ex Maria. more.

Thus supported, it won its way to general acceptance in Western the Latin Church; and the Western Services recognise only one James besides the son of Zebedee, thus identifying the Lord's brother with the son of Alphaeus.

In the East also it met with a certain amount of success, Chrysobut this was only temporary. Chrysostom wrote both before and after Jerome's treatise had become generally known, and his expositions of the New Testament mark a period of transition. In his Homilies on the earlier books he takes the Epiphanian view: St James, he says, was at one time an unbeliever with the rest of the Lord's brethren (on Matth. i. 25, vu. p. 77; John vii. 5, vm. p. 284; see also on 1 Cor. ix. 4, X. p. 181 E); the resurrection was the turning-point in their career; they were called the Lord's brethren, as Joseph himself was reputed the husband of Mary (on Matth. i. 25,l. o.)1. Hitherto

1 A comment attributed to Chryso- show clearly what was Chrysostom's

atom in Cramer's Catena on 1 Cor. ix. earlier view. To these may be added

4—7, but not found in the Homilies, is the comments on 1 Cor. xv. 7 (x.

still more explicit; 'A5e\<pois Tog Kv- 355 D), where he evidently regards

plov X£y« roils vo/utBivrat elvai airrov James as not one of the Twelve; on

aWKipofa- trtiSiiyap Ostos 4 x/"W""'fftw Matth. x. 2 (vn. pp. 368, 9), where he

Ko.1 ai/ris *ard Tij/d Kmvty Sb^ay elrev makes James the son of AlphlBUS a tax

abroif rods Si vlobs 'Iuxrij^ \tyei, ot gatherer like Matthew, clearly taking

&8e\<pol Toc Kvplov txpripkaturiw Sii. -rtiv them to be brothers; and on Matth.

rpbs rty 6totbkov furrprelav Too 'iuffij0. xxvii. 55 (vn. p. 827 A), where, like

X^yei Wldxu/Soy iriaKOrov'lepoao\inuv Gregory Nyssen, he identifies Mopia

ml 'lua'qty 6nuivv^.ov T<js raripi Kal 21- 'laxiiplov with the Lord's mother. The

nuva. Kox 'loiiiia. I give the passage accounts of Chrysostom's opinion on

without attempting to correct the text. this subject given by Blom p. Ill sq,

This note reappears almost word for and Mill p. 284 note, are unsatis

word in the (Ecumenian catena and in factory.

Theophylact. If Chrysostom be not the The Homilies on the Acts also take

author, then we gain the testimony of the same view (rx. pp. 23 B, 26 i),

some other ancient writer on the same but though these are generally ascribed

side. Compare also the pseudo-Chry- to Chrysostom, their genuineness is

sostom, Op. n. p. 797. very questionable. In another spurious

The passages referred to in the text work, Opus imp. in Matth., vi. p.

he betrays no knowledge of the Hieronymian account. But in his exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians (i. 19) he not only speaks of James the Lord's brother as if he were an apostle (which proves nothing), but also calls him the son of Clopas1. Thus he would appear meanwhile to have accepted the hypothesis of Jerome and to have completed it by the identification of

Theodo- Clopas with Alphaeus. And Theodoret, who for the most part closely follows Chrysostom, distinctly repudiates the older view: 'He was not, as some have supposed, a son of Joseph, the offspring of a former marriage, but was son of Clopas and cousin of the Lord; for his mother was the sister of the Lord's mother.'

Cyril of But with these exceptions the Epiphanian view maintained

dria. lts ground in the East. It is found again in Cyril Of

Alexandria for instance (Glaphyr. in Gen. lib. vii. p. 221), and seems to have been held by later Greek writers almost,

Theophy- if not quite, universally. In Theophylact indeed (on Matth. xiii. 55, Gal. i. 19) we find an attempt to unite the two accounts. James, argues the writer, was the Lord's reputed brother as the son of Joseph and the Lord's cousin as the son of Clopas; the one was his natural, and the other his legal father; Clopas having died childless, Joseph had raised up seed to his brother

Eastern by his widow according to the law of the levirate*. This novel suggestion however found but little favour, and the Eastern Churches continued to distinguish between James the Lord's brother and James the son of Alphaeus. The Greek, Syrian, and Coptic Calendars assign a separate day to each.

The table on the next page gives a conspectus of the patristic and early authorities.

clxxiv E, the Hieronymian view ap- mention James the son of Alphanis. pears; 'Jacobum Alphaei lapidantes: See above, p. 19. This portion of his propter quae omnia Jerusalem de- exposition however is somewhat constructs est a Romanis.' fused, and it is difficult to resist the 1 tim Too KXwra, Srep *oi 6 evayyt- suspicion that it has been interpolated. Xio-rijs I\eyiv. He is referring, I sup- 2 See the remarks of Mill, p. 228. pose, to the lists of the Apostles which


''A. Sons of Joseph and Mary.

B. Sons of Joseph by a former wife.

C. Sons of the > Virgin's sister.

Jovinianus (?),


Protevangelium etc.,
Clement Op Alex.,

Hilary Op Poitiers,
Gregory Op Nyssa,
Cyril Of Alex.,
Eastern Services
(Greek, Syrian, and
Later Greek


Western Services,
Later Latin

Uncertain. Hebrew Gospel, Victorinus Petavionensis. Levirate. Theophylact.