Some interesting thoughts on this question have been raised on a recent FRDB discussion.
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0 thoughts on “When did James the brother of the lord become James the brother of Jesus?”
This is a tough one. What the heck did Paul mean by brother of the Lord? I think it’s odd on any hypothesis. I’m reminded of the Gospel source used by 2 Clement (which may be older than the canonical gospels):
Let us therefore give unto Him eternal praise, not from our lips
only, but also from our heart, that He may receive us as sons.
For the Lord also said, These are my brethren, which do the will of
Perhaps it was James’ righteousness which made him the brother of the Lord.
If you were going to question anything, why wouldn’t you question whether perhaps that was added to Galatians later? The way you proceed here seems backwards.
Why would this have been added later?
This phrase does not appear among those arguing over who “owned” Paul in the late second century (Tertullian, Marcionites) — when Tertullian did his Galatians discussion in relation to the Marcionites he did not mention it even though it would presumably have been powerful evidence against Marcion’s Jesus who came down from heaven. The letter to Galatians is unknown in the external testimony until the second century.
If it were added later, it may have been only done so by a copyist incorporating a marginal note from an earlier copy. Anything’s possible, as Baur and McGrath both say.
There are many indications of layers of Galatians being stitched together — who knows when this phrase might have appeared.
But if we can try to read the verse without any Gospel/Acts preconceptions — and that is very hard indeed — at least it takes me effort and time — I try to imagine how I would read that if I only knew the epistle and had no conception at all of the supposedly later Gospel narrative, and I don’t think I would in those circumstances default to a physical sibling meaning. Any family relationship to “the Lord” would surely immediately strike one as metaphorical — like sons of God.