Did Jesus Have Siblings?

One of the most important figures in all of human history is Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus Christ. He lived from approximately 6-4 B.C. to approximately A.D. 30, according to Britannica. However, the first written records of him didn't emerge until at least 25-40 years after his death, as The Guardian notes.

Those records, now known as the New Testament (specifically, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), actually provide quite a bit of detail about Jesus' family. For example, Matthew and Luke both list Jesus' genealogical record beginning with Adam, the first man if the creation narrative is to be taken literally, on down to his own father, Joseph. Similarly, Luke also describes the spiritual journey of Jesus' mother, Mary, who was, according to the narrative, a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus and who, according to Catholic dogma, remained a virgin her entire life.

But does the Bible mention whether Jesus had any siblings? As it turns out, the answer isn't as clear-cut as "yes" or "no."

The Bible mentions some of Jesus' siblings

Not only do the gospels mention Jesus having had siblings, in at least one case, the sacred texts name names. As Christianity.com notes, several passages in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians mention Jesus' siblings. Strictly by way of example, Matthew 12:46 mentions an incident where Jesus was speaking to a crowd, and "his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him." Similarly, Matthew 13 mentions brothers and sisters, and even name-checks his brothers: "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us?" the people asked rhetorically of Jesus.

However, if you're Catholic, these mentions of Jesus' siblings don't actually mention his siblings. That's because Catholic dogma holds that Jesus' mother was perpetually a virgin, ruling out the possibility of her having given birth to other children. According to the question-and-answer column The Straight Dope, as far as Catholics are concerned, these passages actually refer to Jesus' cousins or perhaps half-siblings of Jesus from a previous marriage of Joseph's. This interpretation is considered "tortured" by the column's writer.