Lorne Zelyck: The Sisters and Brothers of Jesus in the Protevangelium of James and Jerome (Hieronymus)
The Protevangelium of James provides the earliest explanation of the relationship between Jesus and his brothers and sisters (Mark 6:1-6 par.) - they are step-siblings, since Joseph had children from a previous marriage. In Against Helvidius, Jerome rejected this explanation, and famously argues that they were cousins in order to uphold the perpetual virginity of Mary, as well as Joseph. Most of the scholarly attention on this topic has been focused on correlating or disassociating the named brothers of Jesus with other individuals, but Jerome's argument that the semantic range of ἀδελφός includes cousins has not been significantly critiqued, and to my knowledge, the assumption that the semantic range of ἀδελφός and ἀδελφή in the bible is synonymous has not been scrutinized. This paper will discuss the reception of the Protevangelium of James up to Epiphanius, and will offer a critique of Jerome's novel presuppositions, exegetical maneuvers, argumentation, and conclusions. It concludes with four theses: 1) no one before Jerome argues that Jesus' brothers and sisters were his cousins; 2) Jerome's categories for distinguishing between different types of brothers is imprecise; 3) there is no clear antecedent in the biblical text that correlates brothers and sisters with cousins; 4) Jerome purposely avoids addressing the sisters of Jesus directly, since they are problematic for his reconstruction of their relationship to Jesus.
Centre for Advanced Studies Beyond Canon_
Meeting-ID: 670 7354 4157