Saint James, the Brother of God

First Century Ossuary ("bone box") of Saint James Found!

I imagine the quality of writing that is to be found in Christianity Today is solely dependent upon the author. Whereas a recent article brought to my attention is interesting in what it describes, it sadly displays a good deal of ignorance. Check the article out here. And then check out my ranting and raving about it below:

This wednesday will be the feastday of my Patron Saint James. On that day I will post a brief history of him, but this article has forced me to be a bit premature on the topic and it certainly deserves a critical look from someone who is not an evangelical protestant. The ossuary has an inscription in Aramaic which reads: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Archeologists note that the reference to a sibling is quite unusual and is thus seen as confirmation that we are dealing with THE James, brother of THE Jesus. You probably cannot read the inscription on the Icon of Saint James above, but it reads: "Saint James, the Brother of God."

Furthermore, the article goes on to attack "Catholic" doctrine...and here alas is where I am really going to need to bitch about the article. The teaching being referred to by the author is the perpetual virginity of Mary. The belief asserts that in fulfilling a prophecy in Ezekial, the Virgin Mary did NOT have sex and remained a virgin not only before the birth of Christ, but afterwards as well. First of all, this is most certainly not a doctrine belonging solely to the Roman Catholic fact NOBODY(that we have evidence of) doubted this belief until quite sometime after the Reformation. All of the Fathers who say anything about it, affirm it. And even John Calvin himself and numerous other reformers also believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. This has ALWAYS been the teaching believed by all Christians until the most recent times and this author passes it off as somesort of obscure Roman Catholic belief?

The author quotes a professor:

"The dominant Catholic tradition is that the brothers of Jesus are actually cousins because Mary didn't have any more children, or they were step brothers in that they were Joseph's sons by a previous marriage," he said. "This inscription could call into question that doctrine."

Huh? The inscription doesn't say anything that the New Testament itself does not also say, and yet we wacky non-evangelicals are somehow still able to believe our wacky teaching on the Virgin. The fact is, the ancient use of the term "brother" could have implied a number of different familial relationships - not neccesarily that of "brother" as we use the term today. Likewise, I understand that there would have been no lingual differentiating between a step-brother or a real brother either. As I said, even our Iconography proclaims James to be a "brother" and all of these things being the case, I don't think the ossuary's ancient terminology endangers our pious and equally ancient tradition - rather I think it confirms it.

Furthermore this item's survival up to today (proclaimed as genuine by even protestant scholars) further testifies to the ancient practice of honor and veneration being offered to the Holy Relics of our beloved Saints and Martyrs. more you think it is a coincidence that this story is hitting the presses just in time for Saint James' Feastday? Certainly you don't think Christianity Today planned it this way or even knew they were doing you?

Holy Saint James, Brother of God, Pray for us.


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