Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers

& LOY Commentary 6 Comments

Did Jesus reject his natural family in favor of a spiritual kinship, or did he pay Mary and his brothers the highest possible compliment?

Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:20-21, 31-35; Luke 8:19-21

(Huck 85, 89, 104; Aland 116, 121, 135; Crook 135, 143, 157)[1]

עוֹדֶנּוּ מְדַבֵּר עִם הָאֻכְלוּסִים וְהִנֵּה אִמּוֹ וְאֶחָיו עוֹמְדִים בַּחוּץ מְבַקְּשִׁים לְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ הֲרֵי אִמְּךָ וְאַחֶיךָ עוֹמְדִים בַּחוּץ מְבַקְּשִׁים לְדַבֵּר עִמְּךָ וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אִמִּי וְאַחַי אֵלּוּ הַשּׁוֹמְעִים אֶת דְּבַר אֱלֹהִים וְעוֹשִׂים

Yeshua was still addressing the crowds when his mother and brothers arrived. They stood outside hoping to speak with him. So Yeshua was told, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside hoping to speak with you.”

In response to this Yeshua said, “My mother and brothers are excellent examples of the seed that fell on good soil! They hear the word of God and act accordingly.”[2]

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Reconstruction

To view the reconstructed text of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers click on the link below:

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Story Placement

Regarding the placement of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, there is a peculiar relationship between the Gospels of Luke and Mark, which we can see by placing their arrangements side by side:

Luke Mark
  Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 1) (Mark 3:20-21)
  The Finger of God (Mark 3:22-30)
  Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 2) (Mark 3:31-35)
Four Soils parable (Luke 8:4-8) Four Soils parable (Mark 4:1-9)
Four Soils interpretation (Luke 8:9-15) Four Soils interpretation (Mark 4:10-20)
Collection of Sayings (Luke 8:16-18) Expanded Collection of Sayings (Mark 4:21-25)
  Spontaneous Growth parable (Mark 4:26-29)
  Mustard Seed parable (Mark 4:30-34)
Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Luke 8:19-21)  
Quieting a Storm (Luke 8:22-25) Quieting a Storm (Mark 4:35-41)
Gergesene Demoniac (Luke 8:26-39) Gergesene Demoniac (Mark 5:1-20)
Yair’s Daughter and a Woman’s Faith (Luke 8:40-56) Yair’s Daughter and a Woman’s Faith (Mark 5:21-43)

From this side-by-side comparison we can see that Luke and Mark share considerable pericope order agreement. According to Lindsey’s hypothesis, this agreement is due to the author of Mark’s use of the Gospel of Luke. The author of Mark mainly followed Luke’s pericope order in this section, but he expanded the collection of sayings that follows the Four Soils interpretation and added two additional seed parables (Spontaneous Growth and Mustard Seed) before returning to Luke’s sequence of events. The major difference between Luke and Mark is the placement of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers within this unit. In Luke, Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers concludes the section that begins with Four Soils, while in Mark, Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers comes before the collection of seed parables. Assuming for the moment that Lindsey’s hypothesis is correct, why would the author of Mark have moved Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers from the end to the beginning of the section on parables?

The answer emerges when we compare Mark’s placement of The Finger of God pericope to Luke’s. As scholars have noted, Part 2 of Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers occupies the same space as A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing occupies in Luke:[3]

Luke 8 Mark 3-4 Luke 11
  Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 1) (Mark 3:20-21)  
  The Finger of God (Mark 3:22-30) The Finger of God (Luke 11:14-23)
    Impure Spirit’s Return (Luke 11:24-26)
  Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 2) (Mark 3:31-35) A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing (Luke 11:27-28)
Four Soils parable (Luke 8:4-8) Four Soils parable (Mark 4:1-9)  
Four Soils interpretation (Luke 8:9-15) Four Soils interpretation (Mark 4:10-20)  
Collection of Sayings (Luke 8:16-18) Expanded Collection of Sayings (Mark 4:21-25)  
  Spontaneous Growth parable (Mark 4:26-29)  
  Mustard Seed parable (Mark 4:30-34)  
Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Luke 8:19-21)    
Quieting a Storm (Luke 8:22-25) Quieting a Storm (Mark 4:35-41)  
Gergesene Demoniac (Luke 8:26-39) Gergesene Demoniac (Mark 5:1-20)  
Yair’s Daughter and a Woman’s Faith (Luke 8:40-56) Yair’s Daughter and a Woman’s Faith (Mark 5:21-43)  

It appears that the author of Mark noticed the strong similarity between Jesus’ statements in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (“My mother and brothers: these hear the word of God and do it”) and A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing (“Blessed, rather [i.e., than the woman who bore and nursed me], are those who hear the word of God and keep it”) and concluded—erroneously, in our opinion—that Jesus’ relationship to his mother was strained. The author of Mark then proceeded to tell a story in which Jesus’ mother and brothers set out to restrain him “because they were saying, ‘He is insane!’” (Mark 3:21), a charge that parallels the actions of the scribes in Mark’s version of The Finger of God pericope, who set out from Jerusalem saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul!” (Mark 3:22). The author of Mark substantially reworked The Finger of God saying and so omitted Impure Spirit’s Return. Then, instead of copying A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing from Luke, the author of Mark gave his version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers in its place.[4] As a result, Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers could no longer come at the end of the section on parables in Mark. Nevertheless, the author of Mark maintained a connection between Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers and the section on parables. Instead of serving as the conclusion of the parables section, as in Luke, in Mark, Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers leads into the section on parables.

The relocation of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers in Mark also had an effect on this pericope’s placement in the Gospel of Matthew. Beginning with The Finger of God, Matthew’s pericope grouping shows striking agreement with Luke:

Luke Mark Matthew
  Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 1) (3:20-21)  
The Finger of God (11:14-23) The Finger of God (3:22-30) The Finger of God (12:22-32)
    Fruit of the Heart (12:33-35)
    Giving Account On Judgment Day (12:36-37)
    Sign of Yonah (12:38-40)
    Generations that Repented Long Ago (12:41-42)
Impure Spirit’s Return (11:24-26)   Impure Spirit’s Return (12:43-45)
A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing (11:27-28) Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 2) (3:31-35) Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (12:46-50)
Sign of Yonah (Luke 11:29-30)    
Generations that Repented Long Ago (Luke 11:31-32)    
  Four Soils parable (4:1-9) Four Soils parable (13:1-9)

Both Luke and Matthew place Impure Spirit’s Return, Sign of Yonah and Generations that Repented Long Ago in close proximity to The Finger of God. Since none of these pericopae occur in Mark, the Lukan-Matthean agreement to cluster these four pericopae in the same context strongly suggests that these pericopae were similarly clustered in the Anthology (Anth.). Mark’s influence on Matthew’s pericope order in this section may be observed in the author of Matthew’s selection of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers and his rejection of A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing. Since Luke appears to preserve Anth.’s placement of A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing, the author of Matthew would have seen that Mark’s Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 2) occupies the same space as A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing occupies in Anth. Noting this parallelism, the author of Matthew evidently concluded that the two pericopae were essentially two versions of the same story, and opted to record Mark’s version of that story.

The author of Matthew also saw that, in Mark, Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers leads into a large section on parables. Mark’s arrangement of the material probably inspired the author of Matthew to place Sign of Yonah and Generations that Repented Long Ago a little earlier in the sequence than in Luke, since this move cleared the way for the author of Matthew to follow Mark in making Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers segue into a major parables discourse.

We believe the sequence of Four Soils parable followed by Four Soils interpretation followed by Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, which is still discernible in Luke, is original. To this original core the First Reconstructor added a collection of sayings (= Luke 8:16-18). The author of Luke then appropriated this expanded First Reconstruction (FR) sequence. Click here for an overview of the original literary unit we have entitled “Four Types of Hearers.”

Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua. __________________________________________________________________

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

As we noted in the preceding section, the author of Luke appears to have taken over the entire block of material consisting of the Four Soils parable (= Luke 8:4-8), the Four Soils interpretation (= Luke 8:9, 11-15), a small collection of sayings (= Luke 8:16-18), and Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (= Luke 8:19-21) from FR. Into this sequence the author of Luke himself inserted the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven saying at Luke 8:10. As was his usual practice, the First Reconstructor made stylistic improvements to the Greek of Anth.’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, but, typically for FR, those changes were not intended to affect the meaning of the pericope.[5]

The author of Mark radically reworked Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, creating an entire backstory for the episode (Mark 3:20-21) and giving Jesus’ words a wholly new application.[6] In Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, Jesus no longer holds up his mother and brothers as worthy examples of individuals who hear God’s word and do it, as in Luke. Instead, hearing God’s word and doing it become the means by which believers are reconstituted as Jesus’ “true” family.

The author of Matthew, in keeping with his usual redactional style, combined the wording of his two sources, Mark and Anth.

Variant versions of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers also appear in 2 Clement[7] and the Gospel of Thomas.[8]

Crucial Issues

  1. Is Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers about who does (and does not) belong to Jesus’ spiritual family?
  2. Why is Joseph not mentioned in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers?
  3. Did Jesus really have brothers and sisters?

Comment

L1-10 Mark’s “Part 1” of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Mark 3:20-21) is not merely difficult to interpret,[9] it also bears the heavy imprint of Markan composition and/or redaction. Hence, many scholars agree that Mark 3:20-21 is, in whole or at least in part, a Markan construct.[10] We concur with this judgment; consequently, nothing in L1-10 has been accepted for GR, and no Hebrew reconstruction of these lines has been proposed.

In the comments below we will discuss specific indications of Markan redaction and issues of interpretation.

L1 καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς οἶκον (Mark 3:20). Scholars have noted that the use of the third person singular ἔρχεται (erchetai, “he goes”) is a bit unusual, since, following Mark’s version of Choosing the Twelve (Mark 3:13-19), readers would have expected the newly-appointed apostles to have accompanied Jesus.[11] This is only the first instance of apparent lack of agreement between verb and subject in Mark 3:20-21. The use of the “historical” present tense is both un-Hebraic and typical of Markan redaction.[12] Likewise, the mention of an unspecified house (Where is it? To whom does it belong?) is characteristic of Markan composition.[13] In the present case, it appears that the author of Mark located Jesus inside a house in order to create a contrast with Jesus’ family members, who will be left “standing outside” in the second part of the narrative (Mark 3:31; L18).[14]

L2-3 καὶ συνέρχεται πάλιν ὁ ὄχλος (Mark 3:20). The author of Mark used another historical present, συνέρχεται (sūnerchetai, “it comes together”), a compound form of the verb he employed in L1, to describe the assembling of the crowd. Lindsey described the adverb πάλιν (palin, “again”) as a “Markan stereotype,”[15] indicative of Markan composition and/or redaction.[16]

L4-5 ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι αὐτοὺς μηδὲ ἄρτον φαγεῖν (Mark 3:20). With Mark’s statement in L4 problems of interpretation arise. Who are the “they” in the statement “so that they were not able even to eat bread”? Did the author of Mark refer to the newly-appointed apostles, whom he failed to mention in the opening of this verse (see above, Comment to L1),[17] or are we to understand that it was the people in the crowd who were unable to eat?[18] The latter possibility arises from the fact that the author of Mark frequently used plural pronouns when referring back to the “crowd” (singular).[19] In either case, the motif of lacking food to eat, combined with the presence of a crowd, is likely intended as a foreshadowing of the miraculous feedings of the crowds, where similar language (Pertaining to the crowd? To Jesus and the disciples?) appears (Mark 6:31; 8:1).[20]

The statement ὥστε μὴ δύνασθαι αὐτοὺς μηδὲ ἄρτον φαγεῖν (“so that they were not able even to eat bread”) is written in typically Markan style. On ὥστε + infinitive as an indicator of Markan redaction, see Four Soils parable, Comment to L11.[21] Turner noted the author of Mark’s disproportionate reliance on the verb δύνασθαι (dūnasthai, “to be able”).[22] Note, too, that Mark’s word order in L4-5 is un-Hebraic. Both Delitzsch and Lindsey translated Mark’s Greek as לֹא יָכְלוּ אַף לֶאֱכֹל לֶחֶם (“they were not able even to eat bread”),[23] placing the infinitive construct (לֶאֱכֹל [le’echol, “to eat”]) before the object (לֶחֶם [leḥem, “bread”]), as is necessary in normal Hebrew. Moreover, in LXX ὥστε + infinitive usually represents a Hebrew infinitive construct,[24] whereas both Delitzsch (עַד כִּי [‘ad ki, “until that”]) and Lindsey (עַד אֲשֶׁר [‘ad ’asher, “until that”]) recognized that some kind of additional explanatory phrase was required.[25] In other words, Mark’s Greek in L4-5 does not revert easily to Hebrew.

L6-10 Mark 3:21 is exceedingly difficult to interpret because none of the antecedents are explicit. There is not a single noun in the entire sentence. We do not know who οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ (hoi par avtou, “the ones from him/it”) are, we do not know whom they went out to seize (Jesus? the crowd?), and we do not know who was speaking when they said, “He (Jesus?)” or “It (the crowd?) is out of his/its senses.” As a result, the verse could be construed in a number of different ways:

  • And hearing, the ones from the crowd went out to seize Jesus, because they said, “He is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, the apostles went out to seize Jesus, because they said, “He is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, the apostles went out to seize Jesus, because the crowd said, “He is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, the apostles went out to restrain the crowd, because the apostles said, “It is out of its senses.”[26]
  • And hearing, the apostles went out to restrain the crowd, because the crowd was saying, “Jesus is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, previously unmentioned persons connected to Jesus set out to restrain the crowd, because the crowd was saying, “He is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, previously unmentioned persons connected to Jesus set out to restrain the crowd, because it was being said of Jesus, “He is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, previously unmentioned persons connected to Jesus set out to restrain Jesus, because it was being said of him, “He is out of his senses.”
  • And hearing, previously unmentioned persons connected to Jesus set out to seize Jesus, because they said, “He is out of his senses.”

While any of these interpretations are possible, some stretch the rules of grammar, many strain credulity, and most face challenges from the wider context in Mark.

A depiction of Jesus surrounded by his disciples in a sixth-century C.E. papyrus manuscript. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps the best way of ruling out some of these interpretations is by working backward. What is the subject of the verb ἐξέστη (exestē, “he/it is amazed,” “he/it is out of his/its senses”) in L10? Two options are available: the subject could be Jesus (ὁ Ἰησοῦς), or the subject could be the crowd (ὁ ὄχλος), since both are masculine singular nouns, and both have been active in the immediate Markan context. Of the two, the crowd is the last to have been explicitly mentioned (Mark 3:20), whereas Jesus has not been explicitly named since Mark 3:7. If the subject of ἐξέστη is the crowd, then Mark 3:21 might be understood as saying, “And hearing, the ones from him (i.e., Jesus) went out to restrain it (i.e., the crowd), because they (i.e., the ones who heard and went out) said, ‘It (i.e., the crowd) is out of its senses.’” However, identifying the crowd as the subject of ἐξέστη is problematic because a crowd out of its senses hardly fits the continuation of the story, in which the crowd attentively listens to Jesus’ words (Mark 3:31-35). From the context, therefore, it is best to conclude that some as yet unidentified persons were saying that Jesus was out of his senses.[27]

What is the subject of ἔλεγον (elegon, “they were saying”) in L9? There are three options. The crowd could be the subject of ἔλεγον. In that case, we might envision a scenario in which concerned persons go out because they have heard the crowd saying that Jesus was out of his senses. While grammatically possible (the plural verb corresponds to Mark’s usage),[28] this option does not comport well with what we read about the crowd in Mark 3:31-35, where the crowd is favorably disposed toward Jesus. How, then, could the crowd have been saying that Jesus was out of his senses? Alternatively, the third person plural verb could be impersonal, and therefore treated almost like a passive: “It was being said that Jesus was out of his senses.”[29] According to this scenario, concerned persons go out because they have heard a rumor that Jesus is mentally unsound.[30] However, an impersonal subject is awkward, since we would expect ἔλεγον to have the same subject as the preceding verb, ἐξῆλθον (L7).[31] Therefore, it is most natural to suppose that the subject of ἔλεγον (“they were saying”) is οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ (hoi par avtou, “the ones from him”) of L7,[32] whom we have yet to identify. In other words, those who went out to apprehend him/it were the same persons who were saying that Jesus was out of his senses.

Taking οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ as the subject of ἔλεγον is supported by the parallel statement in the following verse, according to which the scribes coming down from Jerusalem were saying (ἔλεγον), “He is possessed by Beelzebul” (Mark 3:22).[33] It seems difficult to deny that the author of Mark intentionally designed these two verses to mirror one another.

Mark 3:21 Mark 3:22
καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐξῆλθον κρατῆσαι αὐτόν· ἔλεγον γὰρ ὅτι ἐξέστη καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς οἱ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων καταβάντες ἔλεγον ὅτι Βεελζεβοὺλ ἔχει
And hearing, those from him went out to apprehend him, for they were saying, “He is out of his senses.” And the scribes coming down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul….”

Who, then, or what is the object of κρατῆσαι (kratēsai, “to seize”) in L8, whom these as yet unidentified persons went out to apprehend? Given Mark’s use of plural pronouns to refer back to the (singular) “crowd,” it is unlikely that the antecedent of αὐτόν (avton, “him,” “it”) is ὁ ὄχλος (ho ochlos, “the crowd”).[34] And what sense would there be in attempting to restrain the crowd when it was Jesus whom they believed to be out of his senses? It is much more likely that these persons went out to take custody of Jesus.

And who were these persons who felt entitled to take charge of Jesus, having determined that he was out of his senses? The phrase οἱ παρά τινος (hoi para tinos, “the ones from someone”) usually refers to persons someone sends on a mission (which is why they are “from” him or her), and we could imagine a scenario in which the crowd hears something about Jesus that makes them say, “He is out of his senses,” so they send some of their number to apprehend Jesus. But if the author of Mark had wanted to refer to some from the crowd we would have expected him to write οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτῶν (hoi par avtōn, “the ones from them”), given his preference for plural pronouns referring to ὄχλος. Nor does the crowd’s sending people to apprehend Jesus suit the Markan context, in which the crowd esteems Jesus so highly. Moreover, the movement of these persons is in the wrong direction for οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ to refer to members of the crowd. They would not have gone out to apprehend Jesus, for Jesus was in the house. The same applies to the apostles, who are another possible antecedent of οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ. Surely they were in the house with Jesus, and therefore would not have needed to go out to seize him. Nor is it likely that all twelve of Jesus’ newly-appointed apostles had concluded that their master had to be restrained because he had lost his senses.

We must therefore take into consideration the Koine usage of οἱ παρά τινος in the sense of “those associated with someone.”[35] In this sense, οἱ παρά τινος could refer to someone’s followers, companions, neighbors, friends or family members. Out of all the options, “family members” makes the most sense as the referent of οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ. Jesus’ family members are the only people in Mark’s narrative who were not constantly traveling with Jesus (this explains why they had to “go out”), but who nevertheless would feel responsible for Jesus’ conduct and entitled to take charge of Jesus once they had concluded that he was mentally deranged. Identifying οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ as members of Jesus’ family also makes sense given the appearance of Jesus’ mother and brothers in Mark 3:31-35. For some reason, however, the author of Mark chose to suppress the precise identity of οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ (Mark 3:21) until their arrival (Mark 3:31). A first-time reader would probably not assume that Mark was talking about Jesus’ family until he or she had read the entire verse and realized that nothing else made sense. And even then, the reader would probably still be wondering whether they had understood Mark correctly until they found confirmation in Mark 3:31.

Despite the difficulties with the interpretation of Mark 3:21 that we have defended (“And hearing, Jesus’ own people went out to apprehend him, because they were saying, ‘He is out of his senses’”), they are as nothing to the difficulties that plague the main alternative (“And hearing, Jesus’ apostles went out to restrain the crowd, because they were saying, ‘It is out of its senses’”): There is no reference to the crowd’s creating a din, so what was it the apostles were supposed to have heard? Why would the apostles have to go out to the crowd, when the narrative implies that the crowd was inside the house with them?[36] How can the apostles’ judgment that the crowd was out of control be reconciled with Jesus’ recognition of the crowd as his true spiritual family (Mark 3:34)? Why did the author of Mark stop using plural forms to refer to ὄχλος in this verse? And why should we ignore the grammatical and thematic parallels between Mark 3:21 and Mark 3:22? The manifold challenges to this alternative interpretation provide yet another argument in favor of the interpretation accepted here.

L6 καὶ ἀκούσαντες (Mark 3:21). Crossan noted a pattern that, among the Synoptic Gospels, is peculiar to Mark: in several Markan narratives “hearing” (expressed with ἀκούειν [akouein, “to hear”]) prompts persons to “come” (expressed with ἔρχεσθαι [erchesthai, “to come”]) to Jesus. The Markan narratives containing this hearing→coming sequence have parallels in Luke and/or Matthew. Nevertheless, in these Lukan and/or Matthean parallels the hearing→coming sequence is absent (Mark 2:1-3 [cf. Matt. 9:1-2; Luke 5:17-18]; 3:8 [cf. Matt. 4:25; Luke 6:18[37] ]; 5:27 [cf. Matt. 9:20; Luke 8:44]; 7:25 [cf. Matt. 15:22]).[38] The Lukan-Matthean agreements to omit Mark’s hearing→coming sequence in these narratives is particularly strong evidence that the sequence is due to Markan redaction.[39] In Mark 3:21 we find a pattern very similar to this hearing (expressed with ἀκούειν)→coming (expressed with ἔρχεσθαι) sequence. The only difference is that instead of ἔρχεσθαι (“to come”) the author of Mark used the compound verb ἐξέρχεσθαι (“to go out”). But Mark 3:21 only narrates the departure of the persons who hear about Jesus. It is not until Mark 3:31 that these persons arrive (and are finally identified as Jesus’ mother and brothers). When they do arrive, the author of Mark completes the hearing→coming sequence by using the verb ἔρχεσθαι to describe their arrival (L15).[40]

L7 οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐξῆλθον (Mark 3:21). As we have already noted (see above, Comment to L6-10), identifying the referent of οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ (hoi par avtou, “the ones by him,” “the ones from him”) is fraught with difficulty. In Classical Greek οἱ παρά τινος (hoi para tinos, “the ones from someone”) typically referred to emissaries or representatives that came from someone,[41] but in Koine Greek the meaning was extended to “those associated with someone.”[42] Several times in 1 Maccabees, for instance, the phrase οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ refers to the supporters of Jonathan or Simon, brothers and successors of Judah the Maccabee (1 Macc. 9:44, 58; 10:87; 12:27, 28, 29; 13:52; cf. 1 Macc. 15:15; 16:16). In other cases, the “associated persons” indicated by the phrase οἱ παρά τινος are family members. The following examples are frequently cited in this regard:[43]

οὐ φροντίζει τῶν ἐν οἴκῳ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, ὅταν που χρονίζῃ πάντες γὰρ οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτῆς ἐνδιδύσκονται

Her husband is unconcerned for those in the house when he is long delayed, for all that are hers [οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτῆς] are clothed. (Prov. 31:21)

καὶ Ἅβραμος μὲν ἐπὶ τούτοις εὐχαριστήσας τῷ θεῷ περιτέμνεται παραχρῆμα καὶ πάντες οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ὁ παῖς Ἰσμαῆλος

And Abram gave thanks to God on account of these things and was immediately circumcised, also all that were his [οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ], even the child Ishmael. (Jos., Ant. 1:193)

It should be emphasized that while these examples do show that οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτῆς/αὐτοῦ can refer to a woman’s or a man’s family members, the phrase does not mean “family” or “relatives.”[44] It is the context that determines the referent of οἱ παρά τινος. In Prov. 31:21 the wife cares for those under her charge, and some of those (her children) happen to be family members. In Josephus’ paraphrase of the story of Abraham’s circumcision, we know that the commandment to circumcise applied to all of Abraham’s male slaves and offspring. By contrast, nothing in Mark’s Gospel has prepared readers to expect a reference to Jesus’ family. Therefore, readers can be excused if at first they assume that οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ in Mark 3:21 refers to the apostles. The apostles, after all, had just been appointed by Jesus ἵνα ὦσιν μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ (“so that they might be with him”; Mark 3:14), and so are the first of those who belong to Jesus who come to mind.[45] It is only when the reader continues with the rest of Mark 3:21 that he or she realizes that οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ must refer to persons other than Jesus’ apostles.

L8 κρατῆσαι αὐτόν (Mark 3:21). Lindsey described κρατεῖν (kratein, “to grasp,” “to seize”) as a “Markan stereotype” on account of the high frequency with which this verb occurs in Mark compared to Luke.[46] Moreover, κρατεῖν never occurs in the sense of “to apprehend” or “to arrest” in Luke, whereas in Mark κρατεῖν occurs in this sense 8xx (Mark 3:21; 6:17; 12:12; 14:1, 44, 46, 49, 51). Yet, the author of Luke had no aversion to using κρατεῖν in the sense of “to apprehend,” since κρατεῖν occurs with this meaning in the Book of Acts (Acts 24:6). These facts suggest that κρατεῖν is a redactional word in Mark that may have been picked up from Acts.[47] In any case, the use of κρατεῖν in Mark 3:21 is consistent with our view that this verse was not based on a source, but freely composed by the author of Mark.

L9 ἔλεγον γὰρ ὅτι (Mark 3:21). Lindsey identified Mark’s use of the imperfect verb ἔλεγον (elegon, “they were saying”) as another “Markan stereotype” indicative of Markan composition or redaction,[48] which is consistent with our view that the author of Mark freely composed Mark 3:21.

L10 ἐξέστη (Mark 3:21). Lindsey referred to Mark’s use of ἐξιστάναι (existanai, “to be amazed”) in the sense of “to be out of one’s senses” as a “non-Hebraism,” by which he meant that Mark’s Greek is difficult, if not impossible, to revert to Hebrew.[49] Lindsey’s impression is confirmed when we observe that none of the Hebrew verbs that the LXX translators rendered with ἐξιστάναι make sense in a Hebrew reconstruction of Mark 3:21.[50] In LXX ἐξιστάναι represents several different Hebrew verbs, but none more frequently than חָרַד (ḥārad, “tremble”), which we find in the following example:

וַיֶּחֱרַד יִצְחָק חֲרָדָה גְּדֹלָה עַד מְאֹד

And Isaac trembled with a very great trembling…. (Gen. 27:33)

ἐξέστη δὲ Ισαακ ἔκστασιν μεγάλην σφόδρα

But Isaac was amazed with an exceedingly great amazement…. (Gen. 27:33)[51]

The verb ἐξιστάναι rarely occurs in LXX in the sense of “to be out of one’s senses.”[52] The following is one such example:

כֹּהֵן וְנָבִיא שָׁגוּ בַשֵּׁכָר נִבְלְעוּ מִן הַיַּיִן

Priest and prophet reel with beer, and are drunk from wine… (Isa. 28:7)

ἱερεὺς καὶ προφήτης ἐξέστησαν διὰ τὸν οἶνον

Priest and prophet are out of their senses because of wine…. (Isa. 28:7)

But this verse cannot help us with reconstructing ἐξιστάναι in Mark 3:21, since the concern about Jesus is not that he is intoxicated.

Another possible LXX instance of ἐξιστάναι in the sense of “to be out of one’s senses” is found in the book of Judith:

καὶ ἐξέστη ἡ καρδία Ολοφέρνου ἐπ᾿ αὐτήν, καὶ ἐσαλεύθη ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἦν κατεπίθυμος σφόδρα τοῦ συγγενέσθαι μετ᾿ αὐτῆς

…and Olophernes’ heart was beside itself for her, and his spirit reeled, and he was filled with a violent lust to lie with her. (Jdt. 12:16; NETS)

If Judith was translated into Greek from a Hebrew original,[53] then ἐξέστη ἡ καρδία (exestē hē kardia, “the heart was beside itself”) probably represents יָצָא לֵב (yātzā’ lēv, lit., “[the] heart went out”), since this idiom appears in Gen. 42:28, where וַיֵּצֵא לִבָּם (vayētzē’ libām, “and their heart went out”)[54] probably means “they were faint” since it is coupled with וַיֶּחֶרְדוּ (vayeḥerdū, “and they trembled”). “He is faint!” is just as unsuitable for the context of Mark 3:21 as “He is drunk!” so this example cannot help us either.

Robert Lindsey and David Flusser discuss the verb ἐξέστη (exestē, “he is out of his senses”) in Mark 3:21 in Professor Flusser’s weekly seminar on the gospels at the Hebrew University (late 1970s).

Rather than reflecting an Hebraic source, it is likely that the author of Mark chose ἐξιστάναι in anticipation of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 2), where Jesus’ mother and brothers are left ἔξω στήκοντες (exō stēkontes, “standing outside”; Mark 3:31) as a consequence of their statement ἐξέστη (exestē, “He is out of his senses!”; Mark 3:21). While this wordplay works well in Greek, it cannot be reverted to Hebrew, thus corroborating our supposition that it is the product of Markan composition.

L11 Between his Parts 1 and 2 of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers the author of Mark inserted his version of The Finger of God pericope. As we noted above, it appears that the author of Mark penned Part 1 of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Mark 3:20-21) in order to create a backstory for the encounter between Jesus and his family members as recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels.

L12 ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος (GR). The narrative introduction to Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers in Matt. 12:46 is quite distinct from what is found in Mark 3:31 and Luke 8:19. Luke’s Greek in L15-20 reverts reasonably well to Hebrew, but becomes much more difficult thereafter. We suspect that Luke’s Greek reflects FR’s paraphrase of Anth.’s wording. Mark’s Greek looks like a dramatic paraphrase of Luke 8:19. But Matthew’s Greek in L12-19 has distinctly Hebraic features; ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”; L14) followed by a participle (L19), and even the genitive absolute construction in L12, have LXX parallels. The Hebraic quality of Matthew’s Greek in these lines suggests that the author of Matthew relied mainly on Anth. for his narrative introduction to Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers.[55] We have therefore accepted Matthew’s wording in L12 for GR.

עוֹדֶנּוּ מְדַבֵּר (HR). While the genitive absolute in the Synoptic Gospels is often indicative of a Greek editor’s redactional activity,[56] genitive absolute constructions consisting of ἔτι + genitive pronoun + participial form of λαλεῖν occur 5xx in LXX, always as the translation of עוֹד + pronominal suffix + participial form of דִּבֵּר (Gen. 29:9; 3 Kgdms. 1:22, 42; 4 Kgdms. 6:33; Esth. 6:14).[57] The following examples are especially close grammatical parallels to Matt. 12:46:

עוֹדֶנּוּ מְדַבֵּר וְהִנֵּה יוֹנָתָן בֶּן אֶבְיָתָר הַכֹּהֵן בָּא

He is still speaking, and behold, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest comes…. (1 Kgs. 1:42)

ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος καὶ ἰδοὺ Ιωναθαν υἱὸς Αβιαθαρ τοῦ ἱερέως ἦλθεν

While he was still speaking, and behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came…. (3 Kgdms. 1:42)

עוֹדֶנּוּ מְדַבֵּר עִמָּם וְהִנֵּה הַמַּלְאָךְ יֹרֵד אֵלָיו

He is still speaking with them, and behold, the messenger comes down to him…. (2 Kgs. 6:33)

ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος μετ᾿ αὐτῶν καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κατέβη πρὸς αὐτὸν

While he was still speaking with them, and behold, a messenger came down to him…. (4 Kgdms. 6:33)

In both of the above-cited examples the genitive absolute construction ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος (eti avtou lalountos, “while he was still speaking”) is accompanied by the interjection ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”). Since there are only five instances of this construction in LXX, and since none of them occur in stories that resemble Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, it is unlikely that the author of Matthew was attempting to imitate LXX style by adding these features to his narrative. It is more probable that Matthew’s Hebraic Greek reflects the wording of Anth., a text that descended from the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

On reconstructing ἔτι (eti, “still,” “yet,” “again”) with עוֹד (‘ōd, “still,” “again,” “more”), see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L42.

On reconstructing λαλεῖν (lalein, “to speak”) with דִּבֵּר (dibēr, “speak”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L17.

L13 τοῖς ὄχλοις (GR). Accepting Matthew’s wording in L13 for GR, according to which Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, links Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers to the Four Soils parable and the Four Soils interpretation, which Jesus addressed to the crowd (Four Soils parable, L8). Having just disclosed to his audience that the good seed in the parable represents those who act in accordance with the words of God they hear, Jesus took the opportunity afforded by the arrival of his mother and brothers to hold these family members up to the crowd as positive examples of the good seed.

Mention of the crowd in the Lukan and Markan versions of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is delayed until L25. The delayed reference to the crowd in Luke is probably due to the redactional activity of the First Reconstructor, who, by postponing the reference to the crowd, was able to cite it as the reason why Jesus’ mother and brothers were not able to reach Jesus (L20-21) without having to mention the crowd twice. The author of Mark’s delayed reference to the crowd is due to reliance on Luke.

עִם הָאֻכְלוּסִים (HR). In each of the examples where עוֹד + pronominal suffix + participial form of דִּבֵּר is accompanied by a preposition meaning “with,” that preposition is עִם (‘im, “with”; Gen. 29:9; 1 Kgs. 1:14, 22; 2 Kgs. 6:33; Esth. 6:14). In most of these cases the LXX translators rendered עִם with μετά (meta, “with”), but in Gen. 29:9 they rendered עִם + pronominal suffix with a pronoun in the dative case. So there is no reason why τοῖς ὄχλοις (tois ochlois, “to the crowds”) cannot have represented עִם הָאֻכְלוּסִים (‘im hā’uchlūsim, “with the crowds”) in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

On reconstructing ὄχλος (ochlos, “crowd”) with אֻכְלוּס (’uchlūs, “crowd”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L4.

L14 καὶ ἰδοὺ (GR). We have inserted the conjunction καί before the interjection ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”) in our reconstruction in L14. In Hebrew the conjunction -וְ, corresponding to καί, would be expected, but in Greek καί sounds as superfluous in the sentence ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος τοῖς ὄχλοις καὶ ἰδοὺ ἡ μήτηρ… (“While he was still speaking to the crowd, and behold his mother…”) as does the “and” in the English translation. We have attributed the dropping of the καί to the author of Matthew rather than to the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua on the grounds that the LXX translators, adopting a similarly literal translation technique, often retained the conjunction (see the examples cited in Comment to L12), and therefore the Greek translator of the Hebrew Life of Yeshua might be expected to have done the same. But it is possible that the Greek translator was himself responsible for the omission of the expected καί.

וְהִנֵּה (HR). On reconstructing ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”) with הִנֵּה (hinēh, “Behold!”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L6.

L15 παρεγένετο δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν (Luke 8:19). It was probably the highly Hebraic quality of Anth.’s Greek as reflected in Matthew’s wording in L12-19 that prompted the First Reconstructor to paraphrase the content in the more polished Greek style reflected in Luke 8:19.

καὶ ἔρχονται (Mark 3:31). Whether the original text of Mark read ἔρχονται (erchontai, “they come”), as in Codex Vaticanus, or ἔρχεται (erchetai, “she comes”), as in critical editions of the New Testament, the author of Mark’s decision to replace Luke’s παρεγένετο (paregeneto, “she came”) with a form of ἔρχεσθαι (erchesthai, “to come”) is best explained by the author of Mark’s desire to complete the hearing→coming sequence he initiated in Part 1 of his version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Mark 3:21). See above, Comment to L6.

L16 ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ (GR). Ordinarily, when we have a Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark, it is easy to decide in favor of their reading for GR. The choice is complicated in the present instance by the fact that Mark’s inclusion of the possessive pronoun αὐτοῦ (avtou, “his”) is more Hebraic than is its absence in Luke and Matthew. So the question now becomes: Which is more probable, that the author of Mark accidentally created a more Hebraic text by adding a superfluous pronoun, or that the First Reconstructor (or the author of Luke) and the author of Matthew independently omitted the superfluous pronoun with the result that their agreement against Mark is a coincidence? Since Hebraisms are a strong indicator of Anth.’s wording, and since Lukan-Matthean agreements of omission are less weighty than positive agreements, we are inclined to accept Mark’s wording in L16 for GR.

אִמּוֹ (HR). On reconstructing μήτηρ (mētēr, “mother”) with אֵם (’ēm, “mother”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L7.

L17 καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ (GR). L17 is one of the few places in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers where we find complete verbal agreement among all three Synoptic Gospels. The only other likely point of complete agreement in this pericope is in L28, but since Matt. 12:47 is missing in some important manuscripts (including Codex Vaticanus), the agreement in L28 is somewhat in doubt.

וְאֶחָיו (HR). On reconstructing ἀδελφός (adelfos, “brother”) with אָח (’āḥ, “brother”), see Demands of Discipleship, Comment to L8.

L18 εἱστήκεισαν ἔξω (GR). In Mark and Matthew the fact that Jesus’ mother and brothers were standing outside is reported in the narrator’s voice, whereas in Luke this detail only occurs in the verbal report given to Jesus about the arrival of his mother and brothers. While including the detail about the location of Jesus’ mother and brothers in L18 could be regarded as a Markan addition that was accepted by the author of Matthew, it is also possible that the First Reconstructor reserved this detail for the verbal report given to Jesus in order to avoid needless repetition. The First Reconstructor was, after all, an epitomizer of Anth. The First Reconstructor used some of the space he had saved to explain in L20-25 that Jesus’ mother and brothers were unable to reach Jesus on account of the crowd.

Supporting our conclusion that Anth. did report the standing outside of Jesus’ mother and brothers in the narrator’s voice is the fact that Matthew’s wording in L18 is more Hebraic than Mark’s in two respects. First, Matthew’s word order, with the adverb following the verb, is more Hebraic than Mark’s reversed word order. Second, whereas Mark’s participial form of ἑστάναι (hestanai, “to stand”), στήκοντες (stēkontes, “standing”), does not occur in LXX, Matthew’s pluperfect form, εἱστήκεισαν (heistēkeisan, “they stood”), occurs 10xx in LXX,[58] usually as the translation of a participle, most often עֹמְדִים (‘omdim, “standing”) (see below). Matthew’s Hebraic wording in L18 is more easily explained as due to the author of Matthew’s reliance on an Hebraic source than as the author of Matthew’s accidental conformity with Hebrew word order and Hebraic verb forms.

The author of Mark probably reversed Anth.’s Hebraic word order (reflected in Matthew) in order to create the wordplay between ἐξέστη (exestē, “he is out of his senses”) and ἔξω στήκοντες (exō stēkontes, “[they are] standing outside”), which we discussed above in Comment to L10.

Some scholars, approaching the pericope from the perspective of the Two-source Hypothesis, have suggested that Mark’s statement that Jesus’ mother and brothers were standing outside makes sense because, according to Mark 3:20, Jesus was in a house, whereas Matthew’s inclusion of this statement without mentioning a house shows that the author of Matthew imperfectly handled his sources.[59] But Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers also places Jesus’ relatives “outside” while omitting any reference to a house (Luke 8:20; L29). Would two independent editors of Mark’s Gospel (i.e., the authors of Matthew and Luke) really be likely to commit the same blunder? Rather, approaching the pericope from the perspective of Lindsey’s solution to the Synoptic Problem, it seems the reference to Jesus’ mother and brothers’ standing outside, which the author of Mark read in Luke and/or Anth., is what inspired him to locate Jesus in a house. In Anth., as in Luke and Matthew, the position of Jesus’ mother and brothers “outside” must refer to their standing at the fringes of the crowd.

עוֹמְדִים בַּחוּץ (HR). On reconstructing ἑστάναι (hestanai, “to stand”) with עָמַד (‘āmad, “stand”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L14. As we noted above, the verb form εἱστήκεισαν (heistēkeisan, “they stood”) occurs 10xx in LXX. In seven of these instances εἱστήκεισαν is the translation of a participle, and five of these are the plural participle עֹמְדִים (‘omdim, “standing”).[60]

Most instances of ἔξω (exō, “outside”) in LXX occur as the translation of חוּץ (ḥūtz, “outside”), with or without a prepositional prefix.[61] Likewise, the LXX translators rendered חוּץ more often with ἔξω than with any other term.[62] There are three examples in LXX where ἑστάναι + ἔξω occurs as the translation of בַּחוּץ + עָמַד (Gen. 24:31; Deut. 24:11; 2 Esd. 10:13). Examples of עָמַד בַּחוּץ (‘āmad baḥūtz, “stand outside”) also occur in rabbinic sources, for example:

הֶעָנִי עוֹמֵד בַּחוּץ וּבַעַל הַבַּיִת בִּפְנִים

The poor person stands outside and the landlord [stands] within. (m. Shab. 1:1; cf. m. Neg. 13:10)

אִילָן שֶׁהוּא…עוֹמֵד בַּחוּץ

A tree that is…standing outside…. (m. Maas. Shen. 3:7)

היא עומדת מבפנים והכהן עומד בחוץ

She stands within and the priest stands outside. (t. Sot. 1:5; Vienna MS)

L19 ζητοῦντες αὐτῷ λαλῆσαι (GR). Matthew’s word order would be even more Hebraic if the pronoun αὐτῷ (avtō, “to him”) had followed, rather than preceded, the infinitive λαλῆσαι (lalēsai, “to speak”). Nevertheless, we have accepted Matthew’s wording for GR. It is likely that FR (reflected in Luke) omitted the statement that Jesus’ mother and brothers were seeking to speak to him in order to avoid repetition and in order to supply a reason why they could not access Jesus directly. Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers was influenced by FR via Luke.

מְבַקְּשִׁים לְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ (HR). On reconstructing ζητεῖν (zētein, “to seek”) with בִּקֵּשׁ (biqēsh, “seek,” “ask”), see Hidden Treasure and Priceless Pearl, Comment to L12. On reconstructing λαλεῖν (lalein, “to speak”) with דִּבֵּר (dibēr, “speak”), see above, Comment to L12.

Examples of בִּקֵּשׁ לְדַבֵּר in rabbinic sources reveal that, rather than “seek to speak,” a better translation may be “want to speak”:

רבנין אמ′ כי בא השמש מלמד שהשקיע הקב″ה חמה שלא בעונתה בשביל לדבר עם יעקב אבינו בצינעה, לאוהבו שלמלך שבא אצלו לפרקים, אמר המלך כבו הפניסין שאני מבקש לדבר עם אוהבי בצינעה

The rabbis said [the words] because the sun had set [Gen. 28:11] teach that the Holy One, blessed be he, caused the sun to set before its time in order to speak with Jacob our father in privacy. [It may be compared] to the friend of a king who came to him from time to time. The king said, “Extinguish the lanterns, because I want to speak [מְבַקֵּשׁ לְדַבֵּר] with my friend in privacy.” (Gen. Rab. 68:10 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:780-781])

מה בין נביאי ישראל לנביאי אומות העולם, ר′ חננא…אמר למלך ואוהבו שהיו נתונים בטרקלין כל שעה שמבקש לדבר עמו מדבר

What is the difference between the prophets of Israel and the prophets of the peoples of the world? Rabbi Hanina…said, “[God’s relationship to Israel may be compared] to a king and his friend who were reclining in a triclinium. Whenever he wants to speak [מְבַקֵּשׁ לְדַבֵּר] with him, he speaks.” (Gen. Rab. 74:7 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 2:864-865])

Note that the First Reconstructor correctly understood this Hebraic use of ζητεῖν in the sense of “to want,” for in his paraphrase of the verbal report given to Jesus that his mother and brothers had arrived, in place of ζητεῖν he wrote θέλειν (thelein, “to want”; L30).

As in the Genesis Rabbah passages quoted above, in which “to speak with” is indicated by the preposition עִם (‘im, “with”), we have adopted לְדַבֵּר עִם for HR. For more on עִם + דִּבֵּר, see above, Comment to L13.

L20-21 καὶ οὐκ ἠδύναντο συντυχεῖν αὐτῷ (Luke 8:19). Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers contains the explanation that Jesus’ relatives were unable to reach him because of the crowd. This explanation, which fills in a logical gap in the story as told in the Markan and Matthean versions, was probably supplied by the First Reconstructor. Matthew’s more laconic version is typical of Hebrew narratives, like the first parable cited in the previous comment. That parable fails to describe the friend’s arrival and never mentions to whom the king issued the order to extinguish the lamps. Such omissions were evidently felt to be irritating to readers of Greek. The verb συντυχεῖν (sūntūchein, “to reach”), which appears in L21, occurs only once in LXX (2 Macc. 8:14).

L22-23 ἀπέστειλαν πρὸς αὐτὸν καλοῦντες αὐτόν (Mark 3:31). Mark’s odd description of Jesus’ relatives’ sending for Jesus and calling him is not only un-Hebraic,[63] it lacks a parallel in the Lukan and Matthean versions of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, which suggests that this description did not appear in Anth.

The depiction of Jesus’ relatives’ rude behavior becomes comprehensible when we realize that it is an inversion of Jesus’ behavior in Mark’s version of Choosing the Twelve. In Choosing the Twelve Jesus calls to himself (προσκαλεῖται [proskaleitai]; Mark 3:13) those he wanted and makes twelve of them his apostles in order to send them (ἵνα ἀποστέλλῃ [hina apostellē]; Mark 3:14) to proclaim the Gospel abroad. By contrast, in Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, Jesus’ relatives sent (ἀπέστειλαν [apesteilan]) to Jesus, calling (καλοῦντες [kalountes]) him to come home. This inversion of the Choosing the Twelve pericope is similar to the way the author of Mark turns the tables on Jesus’ relatives, who claimed “He is out of his mind” (ἐξέστη [exestē]), by leaving them standing outside (ἔξω στήκοντες [exō stēkontes]). These verbal contrasts show that the author of Mark was at great pains to depict a rift between Jesus and his family members.

L24 καὶ ἐκάθητο περὶ αὐτὸν (Mark 3:32). The depiction of the crowd seated around Jesus is unique to Mark.[64] By portraying the crowd as sitting around Jesus, the author of Mark has created another contrast with Jesus’ family, who are left standing outside. Their differing postures, as well as the spatial contrast between the family (outside) and the crowd (around Jesus), are Markan metaphors for Jesus’ rejection of his family in favor of the crowd.[65] It may be that the seated crowds are another Markan foreshadowing of the miraculous feedings of the crowds (see above, Comment to L4-5), where Jesus commands the crowd to recline in groups (Mark 6:39) or to sit on the ground (Mark 8:6).

L25 διὰ τὸν ὄχλον (Luke 8:19). As we noted above, in Comment to L13, the First Reconstructor probably refrained from referring to the crowd at the very beginning of the pericope because he wanted to cite the crowd as the reason why Jesus’ relatives were unable to reach him. In this way, the First Reconstructor was able to avoid having to mention the crowd twice. Mark’s late reference to the crowd is due to his reliance on Luke.

L26-30 Some important textual witnesses, including Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus, omit Matt. 12:47, and some scholars have argued that this verse is a scribal addition to the original text of Matthew.[66] Most scholars, however, regard Matt. 12:47 as authentic. Had scribes interpolated this verse from Mark or Luke, we would have expected Matt. 12:47 to be identical to Mark 3:32 or Luke 8:20. As it is, Matt. 12:47 resembles Mark 3:32 in some respects, in other respects it resembles Luke 8:20, and in others it goes its own way. Moreover, the reference to “the one speaking” to Jesus in Matt. 12:49 (L33) is out of place without Matt. 12:47 to inform readers of the speaker’s existence.[67] The omission of Matt. 12:47 may be explained by a scribe’s eyes’ skipping from ζητοῦντες αὐτῷ λαλῆσαι (“seeking to speak to him”) at the end of Matt. 12:46 (L19) to ζητοῦντές σοι λαλῆσαι (“seeking to speak to you”) at the end of Matt. 12:47 (L30).[68] However, this explanation is complicated by the fact that Codex Sinaiticus omits ζητοῦντες αὐτῷ λαλῆσαι (“seeking to speak to him”) at the end of Matt. 12:46, as well as the whole of Matt. 12:47.[69] Since Codex Vaticanus, which serves as the base text for our reconstruction, omits Matt. 12:47, this verse appears within brackets in the Matthew column of the reconstruction document.

L26 εἶπαν δὲ αὐτῷ (GR). Mark’s use of the historical present λέγουσιν (legousin, “they say”) is un-Hebraic, but his impersonal plural could be a reflection of an Hebraic source.[70] Luke’s use of the passive ἀπηγγέλη (apēngelē, “it was reported”) could reflect FR’s attempt to eliminate an impersonal plural,[71] and Matthew’s τις (tis, “someone”) as the subject of εἶπεν (eipen, “he said”) could be a similar attempt to remove an impersonal verb. For GR we have taken cues from all three Synoptic Gospels. We have therefore adopted for GR an impersonal plural verb (as in Mark), but in the aorist tense (as in Luke and Matthew). We have also adopted the verb→δέ→pronoun word order agreed upon by Luke and Matthew.

Whether to accept Luke’s verb ἀπαγγέλλειν (apangellein, “to report”), or λέγειν (legein, “to say”) as in Mark and Matthew, is a difficult choice. We know from the Lukan-Matthean agreement to use the verb ἀπαγγέλλειν in Yohanan the Immerser’s Question (L35) that this verb could occur in Anth., so adopting ἀπήγγειλαν (apēngeilan, “they reported”) for GR and וַיַּגִּידוּ (vayagidū, “and they reported”) for HR would be entirely justifiable.[72] On the other hand, adopting εἶπαν (eipan, “they said”) for GR and וַיֹּאמְרוּ (vayo’me, “and they said”) for HR is equally justifiable. Our final decision in favor of εἶπαν is based on the ubiquity of λέγειν in Anth.

L27 ἰδοὺ ἡ μήτηρ σου (GR). Since there is a tendency to eliminate ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”) in Luke,[73] perhaps as a result of the stylistic polishing of FR, and since ἰδού is highly Hebraic, we have accepted this interjection for GR. Otherwise, the wording in L27 is the same in all three Synoptic Gospels.

הֲרֵי אִמְּךָ (HR). Unlike in L14, where in narration we reconstructed ἰδού with הִנֵּה, here in L27 in the context of direct speech we have reconstructed ἰδού with הֲרֵי (ha, “Behold!”), which took the place of הִנֵּה in Mishnaic Hebrew.[74]

On reconstructing μήτηρ (mētēr, “mother”) with אֵם (’ēm, “mother”), see above, Comment to L16.

L28 וְאַחֶיךָ (HR). Since there is complete agreement among all three Synoptic Gospels as to the wording in L28, there is no need for comment on GR. On reconstructing ἀδελφός (adelfos, “brother”) with אָח (’āḥ, “brother”), see above, Comment to L17.

L29 ἑστήκασιν ἔξω (GR). The Lukan-Matthean agreement to include the verb ἑστήκασιν (hestēkasin, “they stand”) in L29 assures us of its place in GR. Luke’s word order, with ἔξω (exō, “outside”) following the verb, is more Hebraic, so we have followed his word order for GR.

עוֹמְדִים בַּחוּץ (HR). On reconstructing ἑστάναι ἔξω (hestanai exō, “to stand outside”) with עָמַד בַּחוּץ (‘āmad baḥūtz, “stand outside”), see above, Comment to L18.

L30 ἰδεῖν θέλοντές σε (Luke 8:20). Luke’s word order in L30 is un-Hebraic and probably represents FR’s paraphrase of Anth.’s wording as preserved in Matthew. Note, however, the Lukan-Matthean agreement to use a participle combined with an infinitive to express the desire of Jesus’ relatives for a personal interview with him.[75]

מְבַקְּשִׁים לְדַבֵּר עִמְּךָ (HR). On reconstructing ζητεῖν (zētein, “to seek”) with בִּקֵּשׁ (biqēsh, “seek,” “ask”), see above, Comment to L19. On reconstructing λαλεῖν (lalein, “to speak”) with דִּבֵּר (dibēr, “speak”), see above, Comment to L12.

L31 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς (GR). Once again, the Lukan-Matthean minor agreement against Mark in L31 (ὁ δέ instead of καί) recommends acceptance of their wording for GR. This agreement truly is “minor” in the sense that it does not affect the meaning of the sentence, nor would HR be different had we accepted Mark’s wording instead of Luke’s and Matthew’s for GR.

וַיַּעַן (HR). On reconstructing ἀποκρίνειν (apokrinein, “to answer”) with עָנָה (‘ānāh, “answer”), see Call of Levi, Comment to L56.

L32 εἶπεν (GR). Not only does the Lukan-Matthean agreement against Mark in L32 support accepting εἶπεν (eipen, “he said”) for GR, but εἶπεν is much easier to revert to Hebrew than Mark’s un-Hebraic word order and his use of an historical present.

L33 τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ (Matt. 12:48). Were it not for Matthew’s phrase τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ (tō legonti avtō, “to the one speaking to him”), we might have been more inclined to suppose that Matt. 12:47 was an interpolation. There are instances in the Hebrew Bible where וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר (vaya‘an vayo’mer, “he answered and said”) comes as a response to a situation rather than as a reply to a spoken statement (cf., e.g., Judg. 18:14; 1 Sam. 14:12; Zech. 3:4; 6:4). It is, of course, possible that Matt. 12:47 is an interpolation and that τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ was the author of Matthew’s attempt to explain how Jesus could answer when no one had spoken to him, but the attempt seems too clumsy for an editor such as the author of Matthew. More probably, the author of Matthew wrote τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ because he had replaced Anth.’s impersonal plural verb in L26 with εἶπεν δέ τις αὐτῷ (“but a certain one said to him”). In any case, τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ does not revert easily to Hebrew.[76]

πρὸς αὐτούς (GR). For GR we have adopted Luke’s wording, which agrees with Hebrew word order and reverts easily to Hebrew.

L34-53 From L34 to the end of the pericope the author of Matthew more or less forsakes Anth. in favor of Mark’s reinterpretation of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers as a renunciation of Jesus’ natural familial ties in favor of the new spiritual family that is constituted by the community of believers who do the will of God. It is understandable that the author of Matthew would do so. Anth.’s version of the pericope, as we can still see from Luke’s FR version, is an anecdote about something Jesus once said about his mother and brothers. It had no particular relevance for the readers of Matthew’s Gospel. The reinterpretation of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers that the author of Matthew found in Mark, on the other hand, has a timeless message applicable to everyone: anyone can become part of the Christian family by doing the will of God as interpreted by the Church. Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers simply “preaches” better than the story preserved in Luke.

Finding a way to make the stories of Jesus come alive for his audience, to make the stories “immediate” and applicable, was the author of Mark’s genius. Luke the historian, on the other hand, was much more likely to preserve sources that contained the words of Jesus as they were spoken, even if they did not have a direct application for his readers. The author of Luke recorded stories and sayings of Jesus because he believed they happened, not because he thought a particular story or saying made good sermon material.

L34 τίς ἐστιν (Mark 3:33). The author of Mark transformed a complimentary statement about Jesus’ mother and brothers in Luke into a subversive question that leads to a redefinition of family in terms of a community committed to a common interpretation and implementation of the will of God.[77]

A statue depicting Jesus and Mary. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L35 μήτηρ μου (GR). Although it was the habit of the First Reconstructor to polish Anth.’s Greek style, he generally took fewer liberties with Jesus’ words than with the surrounding narrative. Even when he did alter Anth.’s wording of Jesus’ speech, he did so in order to more clearly convey to Greek readers the original sense of Jesus’ words,[78] not in order to reinterpret them. This is one reason we are confident that FR’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers as preserved in Luke conveys the original meaning of the pericope.

There are additional reasons for preferring FR’s (i.e., the Lukan) version of Jesus’ saying. The Torah-centric worldview Jesus expresses in Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, with its emphasis on hearing the word of God and doing it, is a priori more likely to be original than the Markan-Matthean version about reconfiguration of family ties on the basis of doing the amorphous “will of God.” Luke’s version looks like an historical report of an incident that has no direct application for readers—it is a story about a compliment Jesus paid to his relatives[79] —whereas the Markan-Matthean version looks like a homiletical reinterpretation of the original saying that reflects the experience of early (especially Gentile) Christians.[80] Finally, there is a fascinating convergence between the Lukan form of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers and the Epistle of James, which similarly emphasizes hearing and doing “the word” (i.e., Torah) (Jas. 1:22-25). Since there is no indication of Luke’s dependence on James or of James’ dependence on Luke, it is likely that both draw from a common source, namely the teachings of Jesus.[81]

Given these reasons for trusting the authenticity of Luke’s version of Jesus’ speech in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, we have, with a few minor alterations, accepted Luke’s wording in L34ff. for GR.

אִמִּי (HR). On reconstructing μήτηρ (mētēr, “mother”) with אֵם (’ēm, “mother”), see above, Comment to L16.

L36 καὶ τίνες εἰσὶν (Matt. 12:48). Whereas in Mark 3:33 τίς ἐστιν (tis estin, “who is”) must do service for οἱ ἀδελφοί (hoi adelfoi, “the brothers”) as well as for ἡ μήτηρ μου (hē mētēr mou, “my mother”), the author of Matthew improved Mark’s Greek style with the addition of τίνες εἰσίν (tines eisin, “who are”).[82]

L37 ἀδελφοί μου (GR). The Lukan-Matthean agreement to include the possessive pronoun μου (mou, “my”) in L37 could be explained in two ways: the author of Matthew could have added μου because he saw it in Anth., or he may have felt that μου was necessary following his addition of “And who are?” in L36. The two explanations are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In any case, since the inclusion of the possessive pronoun in Luke and Matthew is more Hebraic than its omission in Mark, we have included μου in GR.

וְאַחַי (HR). On reconstructing ἀδελφός (adelfos, “brother”) with אָח (’āḥ, “brother”), see above, Comment to L17.

L38-39 περιβλεψάμενος τοὺς περὶ αὐτὸν (Mark 3:34). “Looking around” at his audience is a typically Markan gesture attributed to Jesus. The verb περιβλέπειν (periblepein, “to look around”) never occurs in Matthew, appears 6xx in Mark (Mark 3:5, 34; 5:32; 9:8; 10:23; 11:11), and occurs just once in Luke, in the story of the healing of a man’s withered hand (Luke 6:10). Since the first Markan usage of περιβλέπειν parallels Luke 6:10, Lindsey suggested that the author of Mark picked up this dramatic gesture from Luke and added it to other stories.[83] Thus, the depiction of Jesus’ looking around at his audience in Mark 3:34 should be attributed to Markan redaction.[84]

Detail from the painting Les satellites ne prirent point Jésus (But No Man Laid Hands Upon Him) by James Tissot. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ (Matt. 12:49). “Stretching out his hand” is attributed to Jesus in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matt. 8:3 // Mark 1:41 // Luke 5:13), but in Matthew it occurs at two points where the gesture is not mentioned in Mark or Luke (Matt. 12:49; 14:31).[85] It therefore seems likely that the author of Matthew replaced Mark’s gesture with one that was more to his own liking.[86] The author of Matthew has also restricted those who are indicated by Jesus’ gesture to the disciples rather than the entire crowd, as in Mark. This change reflects the author of Matthew’s emphasis on discipleship as the means by which a person may attach himself or herself to the Christian community. According to the author of Matthew, anyone can become a disciple of Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20), but only those who are disciples actually do the will of God.

L40 κύκλῳ καθημένους (Mark 3:34). As we noted above in Comment to L24, the picture of a crowd seated in a circle around Jesus is unique to the Gospel of Mark.[87]

L41 λέγει (Mark 3:34). As we noted above in Comment to L1, Mark’s use of the historical present is un-Hebraic and typical of Markan redaction. The author of Matthew had no aversion to the historical present, but here, as often, he turned Mark’s present tense λέγει (legei, “he says”) into the aorist εἶπεν (eipen, “he said”).

L42 ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ μου (Mark 3:34). The interjection ἴδε (ide, “Look!” “See!” “Behold!”) occurs with disproportionately high frequency in the Gospel of Mark compared to Matthew and Luke.[88] Nor do the synoptic evangelists ever agree on the use of ἴδε at any point in their Gospels. For these reasons Lindsey referred to ἴδε as a “Markan stereotype.”[89] It is likely that the author of Matthew changed Mark’s ἴδε to ἰδού (idou, “Behold!”), for in this way the exclamation ἰδού occurs at the beginning (L14), middle (L27) and end (L42) of Matthew’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers.

L43 καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί μου (Mark 3:34). Some scholars, assuming that Mark’s Gospel preserves the earliest form of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, have suggested that originally the pericope concluded with Jesus’ declaration that the persons seated around him are his mother and brothers. According to this view, Mark 3:35, which extends the meaning of Jesus’ saying to include anyone who does the will of God, is a later addition to the original core of the pericope contained in Mark 3:31-34.[90] We can sympathize with this view because, absent Mark 3:35, Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is very much like Luke’s in that it describes an incident without any direct application for later readers. However, if we approach Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers from the perspective of Lindsey’s hypothesis, then it appears that Mark 3:31-34 never existed without the continuation in Mark 3:35, since the final verse in Mark’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is an adaptation of the saying in Luke 8:21.

L44 οὗτοί εἰσιν (GR). With the words οὗτοί εἰσιν (houtoi eisin, “these are”) Jesus identifies his mother and brothers the same way he had identified the seed that fell on good soil (Luke 8:15; cf. Matt. 13:23): “these are [οὗτοί εἰσιν] the ones who hear the word [of God] and receive it with a good heart” (Four Soils interpretation, L67-72). Some scholars suppose that the author of Luke adapted Jesus’ statement in Luke 8:21 so as to recall this identification in the Four Soils interpretation.[91] We believe it is more probable that Luke’s wording and his pericope order, which makes Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers an epilogue to the Four Soils parable and its interpretation, were inherited from Anth. via FR and ultimately go back to an original narrative-sayings complex contained in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

“Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures.” Painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (ca. 1909). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L45 οἱ (GR). In L45 Luke departs from Hebrew word order, which would place “the word of God” following either “hearing” or “doing.” This slight departure from Hebraic word order, which is probably a concession to Greek style introduced by the First Reconstructor, has the effect of giving prominence to “the word of God.” It is not just any kind of hearing and doing that Jesus commended, but the hearing of God’s word and acting accordingly that Jesus praised. For GR we have shifted the phrase τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ (ton logon tou theou, “the word of God”) to a more Hebraic position in L47, with the result that only the definite article οἱ (hoi, “the [ones]”) remains in L45.

L46 הַשּׁוֹמְעִים (HR). On reconstructing ἀκούειν (akouein, “to hear”) with שָׁמַע (shāma‘, “hear”), see Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L24-25.

L47 τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ (GR). Although we could have placed the phrase τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ (ton logon tou theou, “the word of God”) in L49 following καὶ ποιοῦντες (kai poiountes, “and doing”), we have been guided in our placement of this phrase by a parallel statement of Jesus:

μακάριοι οἱ ἀκούοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ φυλάσσοντες

Blessed are the ones who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke 11:28)

אֶת דְּבַר אֱלֹהִים (HR). Hearing the word of the LORD is an important concept in the Hebrew Bible. The LORD himself declared, שִׁמְעוּ נָא דְבָרָי (“Listen to my words!”; Num. 12:6), prophets regularly exclaimed, שִׁמְעוּ דְּבַר יי (“Hear the word of the LORD!”),[92] and the prophet Amos warned that the people of Israel would die from want of hearing the words of the LORD (Amos 8:11). “The word of God” (דְּבַר אֱלֹהִים [devar ’elohim]) is a synonymous phrase that allowed speakers and authors to avoid uttering the Tetragrammaton or committing the divine name to writing.

A story is told about the sage Hillel (first century B.C.E.) and the extraordinary lengths to which he went in order to hear God’s word:

אמרו עליו על הלל הזקן שבכל יום ויום היה עושה ומשתכר בטרעפיק חציו היה נותן לשומר בית המדרש וחציו לפרנסתו ולפרנסת אנשי ביתו פעם אחת לא מצא להשתכר ולא הניחו שומר בית המדרש להכנס עלה ונתלה וישב על פי ארובה כדי שישמע דברי אלהים חיים מפי שמעיה ואבטליון

They say concerning Hillel the elder that every day he would hire himself out to work for a tropaik, half of which he would give to the keeper of the bet midrash and half of which was for his sustenance and for the sustenance of the people of his house. One time he did not find work, and the keeper of the bet midrash did not permit him to enter. He went up and sat at the opening of an aperture in the roof so that he might hear the words of the living God [דִּבְרֵי אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים] from the mouth of Shemayah and Avtalyon…. (b. Yom. 35b; cf. Yalkut Shim‘oni §145)

On reconstructing λόγος (logos, “word”) with דָּבָר (dāvār, “word”), see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L24. On reconstructing θεός (theos, “god”) with אֱלֹהִים (elohim, “God”), see Four Soils interpretation, Comment to L21.

L48-53 Mark 3:35 is almost a mirror image of Jesus’ statement in Luke 8:21, as this schematic diagram illustrates:

By means of this mirror imagery the author of Mark transformed a compliment that Jesus paid to his actual mother and brothers for acting in accordance with the Scriptures into a declaration that doing God’s will transcends familial bonds.

As so often in the Gospel of Mark, the reflection is somewhat distorted; it is the reflection of a funhouse mirror. Thus, the author of Mark dropped “hearing,” which does not fit comfortably with “the will of God.” “The will of God” is itself a wobbly reflection of the much more concrete concept of “the word of God.” And, since Mark’s saying no longer makes reference to Jesus’ actual family members, he was able to add “sisters” as well as “brothers,” so as to make the statement more directly applicable to everyone in his audience.

Some scholars have taken the reversed ordering of Jesus’ family members (brother/sister→mother) in Mark 3:35 compared to the order (mother→brothers) that occurs in Mark 3:31-34 (L16-17, L27-28, L35-37, L42-43) as evidence that Mark 3:35 originally circulated as an independent saying, which the author of Mark (or his source) tacked on to the end of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers,[93] or that the author of Mark himself composed Mark 3:35 to drive home the message of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers.[94] But these theories rely on the assumption of Markan Priority. From the perspective of Lindsey’s hypothesis, the reversed order of family members in Mark 3:35 is symptomatic of the author of Mark’s reversal of Jesus’ entire saying as preserved in Luke 8:21.

L48 ὃς ἂν ποιήσῃ (Mark 3:35). Mark’s ὃς ἄν (hos an, “whoever”) universalizes a saying that was originally intended as a remark about specific individuals, while the subjunctive mood transforms a statement of fact into an invitation. Matthew’s addition of γάρ (gar, “for”) is a literary improvement that more tightly knits together Jesus’ statements in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers.

καὶ ποιοῦντες (GR). “Doing [someone’s] word(s)” is an established expression in Hebrew,[95] and “doing the word of the LORD” is an important concept in the Hebrew Scriptures. Doing the word of the LORD is attributed to the angels (Ps. 103:20) and to the elements of nature (Ps. 148:8). Israel is exhorted to do the words of the Torah (Deut. 28:58; 29:28; 31:12; 32:46). Jesus’ emphasis on performing, rather than just hearing or studying, the commandments is characteristic of the first-century pietists known as the Hasidim, with whom Jesus had so much in common.[96]

וְעוֹשִׂים (HR). On reconstructing ποιεῖν (poiein, “to do”) with עָשָׂה (’āsāh, “do”), see Rich Man Declines the Kingdom of Heaven, Comment to L8.

L49 τὸ θελήματα τοῦ θεοῦ (Mark 3:35). We suspect that the author of Mark replaced “doing the word of God” with “doing the will of God” because the latter was more applicable to a Gentile audience. Many of the Torah’s commandments (e.g., circumcision, Sabbath observance, ritual purity) were obligatory for Jews but non-binding for non-Jewish believers. Perhaps that is why doing the will of God occupies such a prominent place in the New Testament epistles (cf., e.g., Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:6; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18; Heb. 10:36; 1 Pet. 2:15; 1 John 2:17).[97] We must concede, however, that “to do the will of God” is not an un-Hebraic expression (cf., e.g., Ps. 40:9; 103:21; 143:10; Ezra 10:11).

L49-50 τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου (Matt. 12:50). In place of “the will of God” the author of Matthew wrote “the will of my Father in heaven.” This change echoes the liturgy of the Matthean community (cf. Matt. 6:9-10; Did. 8:2),[98] but mention of “my father” also completes the family unit—Jesus’ mother and brothers have already been mentioned, sisters will appear shortly (L52)[99] —and the contrast between Jesus’ blood relatives and his spiritual family is thereby made all the more stark.

The author of Matthew had previously added the phrase τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς (to thelēma tou patros mou tou en ouranois, “the will of my Father in heaven”) in Matt. 7:21. The Lukan parallels show that the author of Matthew inserted Matt. 7:22-23 (cf. Luke 13:26-27) into the context of the Wise and Foolish Builders parable (Matt. 7:21, 24-27 // Luke 6:46-49). When this Matthean insertion is recognized, it becomes clear that Luke’s “my words” (Luke 6:46) is more original than “the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21), for, as Matthew and Luke agree, the parable illustrates the necessity of doing “my [i.e., Jesus’] words” (Matt. 7:24; Luke 6:47). There (Matt. 7:21), as here (Matt. 12:50), “the will of my Father in heaven” must be attributed to Matthean redaction.[100]

L51 οὗτος ἀδελφός μου (Mark 3:35). Because the Markan version of Jesus’ saying no longer refers to specific persons (viz., Jesus’ mother and brothers) within an historical setting, the author of Mark had to change the plural οὗτοί (houtoi, “these”; GR, L44) into the singular οὗτος (houtos, “this”), and likewise the originally plural ἀδελφοί (adelfoi, “brothers”; GR, L37) into the singular ἀδελφός (adelfos, “brother”), in order to agree with the singular ὃς ἄν (hos an, “whoever”). Nevertheless, Mark’s οὗτος retains the vocabulary of the original saying (GR, L44). Even this lexical vestige from Anth. has been lost in Matthew’s version, where οὗτος has been replaced with αὐτός (avtos, “he”).

L52 καὶ ἀδελφὴ (Mark 3:35). Since Mark’s version of Jesus’ saying no longer refers to the persons who had arrived to speak with Jesus (i.e., Jesus’ mother and brothers), it was possible to add “and sister” to the list of relatives who become part of Jesus’ spiritual family by doing the will of God. It is probable that the author of Mark added “sister” to the list of family members because female members of the early church were referred to as “sister” (cf., e.g., Rom. 16:1; 1 Cor. 7:15; 9:5; Phlm. 2).[101]

L53 καὶ μήτηρ ἐστίν (Mark 3:35). The author of Mark was once again obliged to change an originally plural εἰσίν (eisin, “they are”; GR, L44) into the singular ἐστίν (estin, “he is”).

Redaction Analysis

Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers has not come down to us in pristine form, since none of the synoptic evangelists relied on Anth. as his only source for this pericope. Luke’s version, which reflects FR, correctly preserves the original sense of the story and especially of Jesus’ saying, but many of the original Hebraisms have been erased. Mark’s version is a total reworking of the story in order to make an historical incident in which Jesus said something about specific individuals in the past into a story with a timeless application for all readers: anyone can become part of Jesus’ spiritual family by obeying the will of God. Because the author of Matthew blended the Markan and Anth. versions of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, his version paradoxically preserves some original wording but nevertheless fails to capture the original sense of the pericope as it occurred in the Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Luke’s Version

It is likely that the author of Luke made few (if any) alterations to the wording of his source. Unfortunately (for the purposes of reconstruction), that source was FR. The First Reconstructor had retold the story of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers in a more economizing style than the version in Anth., and the most overt Hebraisms preserved in Anth. were eliminated. Nevertheless, the First Reconstructor had no interest in changing the meaning or application of the story. Consequently, its original sense was preserved.

Mark’s Version

The redactional changes the author of Mark made to Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers were radical and pervasive.[102] In order to set the stage for Jesus’ shocking renunciation of his familial bonds, the author of Mark composed ex nihilo a story about how Jesus’ family members came to the conclusion that Jesus was insane (Mark 3:20-21). The way the author of Mark had Jesus’ relatives express their startling conclusion, ἐξέστη (exestē, “He is out of his senses!”), allowed him to create a Greek wordplay according to which Jesus’ mother and brothers were ultimately left ἔξω στήκοντες (exō stēkontes, “standing outside”). And so they received their just punishment for their lack of faith in Jesus.

The author of Mark took great pains to draw a stark contrast between Jesus and his relatives in terms of their behavior, their posture and their location. Whereas Jesus called apostles, his family members sent messengers and shouted (L22-23). Whereas Jesus’ loyal followers were respectfully seated around him (L24), his mother and brothers stood (L18). Whereas Jesus was inside the house teaching, his mother and brothers were outside the house and their entry was barred (L18, L29). Why did the author of Mark go to such great lengths to portray the mutual rejection of Jesus by his family and his family by Jesus? Perhaps it is because the Gentile audience for whom the Gospel of Mark was written had experienced rejection from family members and had embraced a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ.[103]

Despite the thoroughgoing changes the author of Mark made to Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, there are clear points of dependence on the earlier version in Luke. Mark 3:35 is almost a mirror image of Luke 8:21, and Mark 3:35 even preserves the demonstrative pronoun οὗτος (houtos, “this”; L51), which is a little awkward in the Markan form of Jesus’ saying (cf. Matthew’s replacement of οὗτος with αὐτός), but which makes perfect sense in the Lukan form of the saying, where Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is an epilogue to the Four Soils interpretation, in which the demonstrative pronoun οὗτοί (houtoi, “these”) is used to identify the different seeds with different kinds of hearers.

There are even a few places where the author of Mark preserved or echoed Anth.’s wording where it has been lost in Luke. In L16 Mark preserved a possessive pronoun, absent in Luke and Matthew, which nevertheless looks Hebraic, and in L18 the author of Mark mentioned the external location of Jesus’ mother and brothers, a detail supported by Matthew but not by Luke.

While the author of Mark’s motivation for making these changes may have been to reflect his audience’s experience in the story of Jesus and to turn an anecdote with limited application into a timeless scene with a universal lesson, his reinterpretation of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers has had far-reaching consequences for the Christian understanding of family and for historical reconstructions of Jesus’ biography.

Matthew’s Version

In his version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers the author of Matthew pursued his usual technique of blending his two sources, Mark and Anth. Thus, at some points (wherever the author of Matthew copied Anth.) Matthew’s version reflects the earliest Greek version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, but at other points (wherever the author of Matthew attempted to improve upon Mark) Matthew’s version represents the most highly redacted version of all.

Matthean redaction is evident in the author of Matthew’s addition of τίνες εἰσίν (“Who are?”) in L36; his substitution of “stretching out his hand” for Mark’s “looking around” in L38; his specification of “the disciples” instead of “the crowd” in L39; his addition of γάρ to L48; his changing Mark’s ὅς to ὅστις in L48; his changing “will of God” to “will of my Father in heaven” in L49-50; and his changing οὗτος to αὐτός in L51.

From Anth. the author of Matthew was willing to accept the narrative introduction, which is quite different from the openings of the Lukan and Markan versions of the story. This editorial decision explains why Matthew’s opening to Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is marked with Hebraisms such as ἰδού (“Behold!”) followed by a participial phrase (L14, L19), and the use of ζητεῖν (“to seek”) in the sense of “want” (L19). Owing to his reliance on Anth., the author of Matthew was also able to produce a few agreements with Luke against Mark’s wording in L26, L29, L31, L32 and L37. In these instances Anth.’s wording still shone through FR’s version as recorded in Luke.

Despite preserving some of Anth.’s wording, the author of Matthew’s acceptance of Mark’s reinterpretation of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers means that the original sense of the pericope (as preserved in Luke) has been lost.

Results of This Research

1. Is Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers about who does (and does not) belong to Jesus’ spiritual family? Depending on whether this question is asked of the Lukan, Markan or Matthean versions, our answer will vary. If this question is asked of the Markan or Matthean versions of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, the answer must be in the affirmative. In these versions Jesus redefines family in terms of a community based not on kinship, but on doing the will of God. According to the Markan version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, Jesus rejects his blood relatives while embracing as his true family those who accept his teachings. In the Matthean version Jesus’ rejection of his natural kinship ties is toned down because Mark’s prologue to Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Mark 3:20-21) has not been reported and the contrasts between Jesus’ family and his audience have not been so strongly emphasized. Nevertheless, the redefinition of family based on doing God’s will remains firmly intact.

But if we ask whether Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is about who does (and does not) belong to Jesus’ spiritual family, the answer must be in the negative.[104] In Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers, Jesus does not speak about himself, not even obliquely so as to explain how people can acquire a place within his spiritual family. Rather, as Luke reports the story, Jesus behaves in a characteristic manner, identifying something good in other people (in this case, in his own mother and brothers) and praising that good quality.[105] “These people are excellent examples of the seed that fell on good soil,” Jesus says of his mother and brothers. “We know they hear and receive the word with a good heart, because when they hear the word of God they do what it says.”

Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers includes a situationally-bound statement (Luke 8:21) in which Jesus talks about other people (“my mother and brothers hear and do God’s word”). It has no direct application for subsequent readers. In Mark’s version (and following him, Matthew’s), on the other hand, Jesus makes a timeless pronouncement about himself (“anyone who does the will of God can be related to me”), which is applicable to readers of every time and place. As such, Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers is an excellent example of Lindsey’s hypothesis that the chain of Gospel transmission runs from Luke to Mark to Matthew.

2. Why is Joseph not mentioned in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers? Presumably, Joseph is not mentioned in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers because he was not present on the occasion this pericope describes. Why Joseph was not present can only be answered with speculation. Joseph’s absence neither suggests nor implies that Joseph was dead when this story took place,[106] although his death would certainly be consistent with his absence in this story.[107] But any number of reasons why Joseph may not have been present (e.g., Joseph was ill, or tied up at home with business, or away on a journey, or on bad terms with Jesus) are equally consistent with his absence in this story.[108] In such cases it is best to frankly admit that we simply do not know why Joseph did not accompany Mary and Jesus’ brothers.

3. Did Jesus really have brothers and sisters? A plain reading of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers certainly leads to the conclusion that Jesus had brothers, and sisters of Jesus are mentioned in Matt. 13:56 // Mark 6:3. There is nothing in the text to suggest that these sisters and brothers of Jesus were not the children of Mary.[109] The historical probability is that Jesus did, indeed, have brothers (and possibly sisters) by his mother, Mary.

Nevertheless, there is an ancient tradition that these brothers and sisters of Jesus were Joseph’s offspring from a previous marriage. This tradition may already be hinted at in the second-century C.E. Protoevangelium of James (9:2), in which Joseph claims to be a widower and to have fathered children prior to taking Mary as his wife. Proving Mary’s virginal state before, during and immediately following Jesus’ birth is a primary concern of Protoevangelium of James. Scholars debate whether or not Protoevangelium of James was written in a Jewish-Christian environment.[110]

Epiphanius (fourth cent. C.E.), who held the view that the siblings of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels were half-sisters and brothers by Joseph’s first marriage (Panarion 78:7 §6), defended the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity with an argument that has parallels in Jewish sources. Epiphanius asked, “How could Joseph dare to abuse and insult a holy body in which God had dwelt?” (Panarion 78:15 §1). And again, “How could Joseph dare to have relations with the Virgin Mary, who was of such, and so great, holiness?” (Panarion 78:15 §4). In other words, Mary’s womb had been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and so it was unthinkable that she should bear natural offspring by a human father. A similar line of reasoning is found in a story about the widow of the second-century C.E. sage Rabbi Eleazar ben Shimon (son of Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai). When Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi asked her to marry him, she turned him down saying, “Shall a vessel that has been used for holy purposes be used for profane purposes?” (y. Shab. 10:5 [63b]; Eccl. Rab. 11:2 §1; b. Bab. Metz. 84b).[111] In other words, Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi would never measure up to her saintly husband, now deceased. If the widow of a saintly man could be desecrated by marrying an unworthy husband, then it would surely be the case that Mary, who had been consecrated by the Holy Spirit, might seem to be desecrated by having natural relations with any man, no matter how pious he might be.

Thus, even if the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity may not be supported by the earliest historical records (the Gospels and New Testament epistles),[112] the doctrine is an ancient one and may even have Jewish roots.[113]

Conclusion

When his teaching was interrupted with the news that his mother and brothers had just arrived and wanted to speak with him, Jesus, with ingenuity and characteristic humility, turned the interruption into an opportunity to further explicate the meaning of the Four Soils parable. “I told you that the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear the word of God and receive it with a good heart,” Jesus reminded the crowd. “Well, my mother and brothers, who have just arrived, are excellent examples of those who hear the word of God and do what it says.”


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  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] For scholars who have noted that A Woman’s Misplaced Blessing in Luke parallels the placement of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (Part 2) in Mark, see Streeter, 278-279; John Dominic Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” Novum Testamentum 15.2 (1973): 81-113, esp. 86; J. Lambrecht, “The Relatives of Jesus in Mark,” Novum Testamentum 16.4 (1974): 241-258, esp. 249-251.
  • [4] Numerous scholars have discussed Mark’s “sandwiching” of his version of The Finger of God between the two parts of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers. See C. H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel: IV Parenthetical Clauses in Mark,” Journal of Theological Studies 26.102 (1925): 145-156, esp. 148; Bultmann, 29; Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 85; Lambrecht, “The Relatives of Jesus in Mark,” 252; Stephen C. Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 70. Did the author of Mark learn this “sandwiching” technique by observing how in Luke’s version of The Finger of God a reference is made to those who demanded a sign from Jesus (Luke 11:16), a theme that is not taken up until Sign of Yonah (Luke 11:29-30)?
  • [5] Pace Cadbury (Style, 124), who cited Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers as a rare exception to Luke’s usual practice of accurately transmitting the words of Jesus as they appeared in his sources. In our opinion, Cadbury was misled by his assumption that Mark 3:33-35 was the source behind Luke 8:21. Of course, Cadbury was hardly unique in making this assumption; most adherents of the Two-source Hypothesis would concur. Cf., e.g., Marshall, 331; Bovon, 1:315 n. 80.
  • [6] Cf. R. Steven Notley, “Anti-Jewish Tendencies in the Synoptic Gospels,” under the subheading “Jesus and His Family”; Flusser, Jesus, 34.
  • [7] In 2 Clement we read:

    καὶ γὰρ εἶπεν ὁ κύριος· Ἀδελφοί μου οὗτοι εἰσιν οἱ ποιοῦντες τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου.

    For the Lord said, “My brothers are these who do the will of my Father.” (2 Clem. 9:11)

  • [8] In the Gospel of Thomas we read:

    The disciples said to Him: Thy brethren and thy Mother are standing outside. He said to them: Those here who do the will of My Father, they are My brethren and My mother; these are they who shall enter the Kingdom of My Father. (Gos. Thom. §99 [ed. Guillaumont, 51])

  • [9] France (Mark, 164) summarized the difficulties in Mark 3:20-21, explaining: “There is room for disagreement over the antecedent of αὐτούς, the identification of οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ, the antecedent of αὐτόν, the subject of ἔλεγον, and the meaning and subject of ἐξέστη; the resulting permutations of exegetical possibilities are such that any understanding of these verses must be advanced with some diffidence.”
  • [10] See Dibelius, 47; Bultmann, 29; Taylor, 235; Bundy, 207 §115; Beare, 101 §85; Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 83-84; Lambrecht, “The Relatives of Jesus in Mark,” 249; Ernest Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” in his Disciples and Discipleship: Studies in the Gospel of Mark (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1986), 49-63, esp. 50-52; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 69-70; Pryke, 12; Flusser, Jesus, 34 n. 36.
  • [11] See Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 83; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 69.
  • [12] On the historical present as an indicator of Markan redaction, see LOY Excursus: Mark’s Editorial Style, under the subheading “Mark’s Freedom and Creativity.” Cf. Taylor, 235.
  • [13] On “ownerless” houses as a typical feature of Markan redaction, see Jesus and a Canaanite Woman, Comment to L4. Cf. Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 50; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 69. Skeat argued that καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς οἶκον should be interpreted as “and he came home [to Nazareth].” See Theodore C. Skeat, “ΑΡΤΟΝ ΦΑΓΕΙΝ: A Note on Mark iii. 20-21,” in Essays and Texts in Honor of J. David Thomas (ed. Traianos Gagos and Roger S. Bagnall; Oakville, Conn.: American Society of Papyrologists, 2001), 29-30. Similarly, Collins (226) suggested that since εἰς οἶκον (eis oikon, “into a house”) can be understood as “going home,” Mark 3:20 should be interpreted as describing Jesus’ entering his private dwelling in Capernaum. Cf. Gould, 61; France, Mark, 165 n. 31. However, Mark never states that Jesus owned a home in Capernaum, and parallel usages of “ownerless” houses elsewhere in Mark argue against Collins’ interpretation (cf., e.g., Mark 7:24, where εἰς οἰκίαν [eis oikian] can hardly refer to a “home” of Jesus on the borders of Tyre and Sidon).
  • [14] Cf. Bundy, 207 §115.
  • [15] See Robert L. Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “The Markan Stereotypes”; LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, under the entry for Mark 2:1.
  • [16] Cf. Taylor, 235; Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 50; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 70.
  • [17] This is the opinion of Crossan (“Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 83), Best (“Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 50) and Barton (Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 69).
  • [18] Skeat (“ΑΡΤΟΝ ΦΑΓΕΙΝ: A Note on Mark iii. 20-21,” 29) assumes this interpretation, and France (Mark, 165) entertains it.
  • [19] Examples of plural pronouns referring back to ὄχλος (ochlos, “crowd”) occur in Mark 2:13; 4:2 (2xx); 6:34 (2xx), 46; 7:14; 8:3 (3xx), 4; 15:8, 11, 15. On Mark’s use of plural pronouns to refer back to the “crowd” (sing.), see C. H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel: V The Movements of Jesus and his Disciples and the Crowd,” Journal of Theological Studies 26.103 (1925): 225-240, esp. 238; Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 53.
  • [20] See Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 50; France, Mark, 165.
  • [21] Cf. Taylor, 235.
  • [22] C. H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel: VIII Auxiliary and Quasi-auxiliary Verbs,” Journal of Theological Studies 28.112 (1927): 349-362, esp. 354-355.
  • [23] See Lindsey, HTGM, 95.
  • [24] On ὥστε + infinitive as the LXX equivalent of the Hebrew infinitive construct, see Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, Comment to L21.
  • [25] See Lindsey, HTGM, 95.
  • [26] This is the interpretation championed by John E. Steinmueller, “Jesus and the οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ (Mk. 3:21-22),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 4.4 (1942): 355-359; Henry Wansbrough, “Mark III. 21—Was Jesus out of his Mind?” New Testament Studies 18.2 (1972): 233-235.
  • [27] We explored whether the typical patterns of Markan usage could help us determine the subject of the verb ἐξέστη in Mark 3:21. Although the author of Mark was capable of using both singular verbs (Mark 2:13; 3:20, 32; 4:1; 5:21, 24, 31; 8:1; 9:25; 11:18; 12:37, 41; 15:8 [2xx]) and plural verbs (Mark 3:9, 32; 4:1; 5:24; 6:34; 8:1 [2xx], 2 [3xx], 3, 8 [3xx]; 9:15 [4xx]) when the subject was ὄχλος (ochlos, “crowd” [sing.]), his decision whether to use singular or plural verbs was not entirely random.

    On occasion, from the very first time ὄχλος appears as the subject of a sentence, the author of Mark would use plural verbs to describe the action of the “crowd” (cf. Mark 3:9; 9:15). But whenever a singular verb is used for the action of a “crowd” in Mark, it is always the first such verb in the sentence. Any subsequent verbs in the sentence which have ὄχλος as their subject are always plural. For instance:

    καὶ ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολὺς καὶ συνέθλιβον αὐτόν

    And a large crowd was following [ἠκολούθει] him, and they were jostling [συνέθλιβον] him. (Mark 5:24)

    The only exception to this rule is in Mark 15:8 (καὶ ἀναβὰς ὁ ὄχλος ἤρξατο αἰτεῖσθαι [“and coming up, the crowd began to ask”]), but in this case the participle ἀναβάς (“coming up”) is subordinate to the verb ἤρξατο (“it began”). We do not find any examples in which the author of Mark, having begun in a sentence to use plural verbs for ὄχλος, then reverted to describing the action of the “crowd” with singular verbs.

    Unfortunately, these observations cannot rule out ὄχλος as the subject of ἐξέστη in Mark 3:21. Since the author of Mark had already used a singular verb (συνέρχεται [sūnerchetai, “it comes together”]) with ὄχλος as the subject in Mark 3:20, we might have expected him to use the plural verb ἐξέστησαν (exestēsan, “they were out of their senses”) if he intended his readers to understand that the “crowd” was the subject of the verb. However, in Mark 3:21 ἐξέστη functions as the quotation of a one-word sentence (“He/it is out of his/its senses!”), and, as we have seen, the first time the action of the “crowd” is described in a sentence the author of Mark was capable of using a singular verb. Thus, even according to the regular “rules” of Markan usage, it is grammatically possible that ὄχλος is the subject of ἐξέστη in Mark 3:21.

  • [28] See Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 54.
  • [29] See C. H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel,” Journal of Theological Studies 25.100 (1924): 377-386, esp. 384. See also Turner, 23; Streeter, 189.
  • [30] We have already ruled out scenarios in which the “crowd” is the subject of ἐξέστη.
  • [31] See Gould, 61; Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 55; France, Mark, 166-167.
  • [32] See Taylor, 236-237.
  • [33] See Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 87.
  • [34] See Ernst Harald Riesenfeld, “παρά,” TDNT, 5:727-736, esp. 731 n. 37; Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 53. Gannon conceded that the author of Mark usually used plural pronouns to refer to the (singular) “crowd,” but he argued that in Mark 3:21 the author of Mark was prevented from doing so because in the preceding verse the author of Mark had already used the plural pronoun αὐτούς to refer to Jesus and the apostles. Therefore, according to Gannon, the author of Mark was forced to break from his usual habit and use the singular pronoun αὐτόν (avton, “him,” “it”) to refer to the “crowd,” for otherwise Mark’s sentence “would militate against the first purpose of speech, namely, intelligibility” (emphasis original). See P. J. Gannon, “Could Mark Employ Auton in 3,21 Referring to Ochlos in 3,20?” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 15.4 (1953): 460-461. But two points seriously undermine Gannon’s argument. First, it is by no means certain that the αὐτούς in Mark 3:20 refers to Jesus and the disciples. It could just as easily refer to the crowd (see above, Comment to L4-5), in which case the grounds for Gannon’s argument evaporate. Second, Mark 3:21 must be one of the most poorly constructed sentences in the Synoptic Gospels (cf. Streeter, 189). It is utterly vague, as the controversy over the correct interpretation of this verse demonstrates. Constructing an intelligible sentence, therefore, cannot have been the author of Mark’s primary concern, or if it were, he failed miserably in the attempt.
  • [35] See Riesenfeld, “παρά,” TDNT, 5:730-731.
  • [36] How could a crowd outside the house prevent the people inside from eating bread? Cf. Swete, 63; Plummer, Mark, 110.
  • [37] While Luke 6:18 has the verbs ἀκούειν and ἔρχεσθαι, the coming of the crowd was not a consequence of their hearing.
  • [38] See Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 84; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 70. Crossan included Mark 10:47 as an example of hearing and coming to Jesus, and noted that this was the only case (that of a blind man) where the Matthean and Lukan parallels accept the hearing→coming sequence (Matt. 20:30; Luke 18:36). But while the blind man does have an encounter with Jesus, Mark does not use the specific vocabulary of “coming” (expressed with ἔρχεσθαι) to Jesus.
  • [39] Best (“Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 51) misses the point when he argues that the hearing→coming sequence in Mark 3:21 is “perfectly natural” and therefore unlikely to be redactional. The absence of this sequence in the Lukan and Matthean parallels demonstrates that the hearing→coming sequence reflects a Markan mode of writing.
  • [40] Cf. Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 71.
  • [41] See Moulton, 106; BDAG, 756.
  • [42] See Riesenfeld, “παρά,” TDNT, 5:730-731.
  • [43] See Frederick Field, Notes on the Translation of the New Testament (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1899), 25-26; Taylor, 236; Marcus, 1:270; France, Mark, 166.
  • [44] Pace Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John Reumann, Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Catholic Scholars (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), 55 n. 95; Guelich, 1:172; Marcus, 1:270.
  • [45] See Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 52.
  • [46] See Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Confirming the Priority of Luke.” The following table shows each of the instances of κρατεῖν in Mark and the Lukan and/or Matthean parallels (if any):

    Mark 1:31 TT (cf. Matt. 8:15; Luke 4:39)

    Mark 3:21 U

    Mark 5:41 TT = Matt. 9:25; Luke 8:54

    Mark 6:17 TT = Matt. 14:3 (cf. Luke 3:20)

    Mark 7:3 Mk-Mt (cf. Matt. 15:[–])

    Mark 7:4 Mk-Mt (cf. Matt. 15:[–)

    Mark 7:8 Mk-Mt (cf. Matt. 15:3)

    Mark 9:10 TT (cf. Matt. 17:9; Luke 9:36)

    Mark 9:27 TT (cf. Matt. 17:18; Luke 9:42)

    Mark 12:12 TT = Matt. 21:46 (cf. Luke 20:19)

    Mark 14:1 TT = Matt. 26:4 (cf. Luke 22:2)

    Mark 14:44 TT = Matt. 26:48 (cf. Luke 22:47)

    Mark 14:46 TT = Matt. 26:50 (cf. Luke 22:48)

    Mark 14:49 TT = Matt 26:55 (cf. Luke 22:53)

    Mark 14:51 TT (cf. Matt. 26:[–]; Luke 22:[–])


    Key: TT = pericope has parallels in all three Synoptic Gospels; Mk-Mt = Markan-Matthean pericope; U = verse unique to a particular Gospel; [–] = no corresponding verse

  • [47] See our discussion in LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, under the entry for Mark 1:31.
  • [48] See Robert L. Lindsey, “A New Two-source Solution to the Synoptic Problem,” thesis 7; idem, HTGM, 28. See also LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, under the entry for Mark 2:16.
  • [49] Lindsey, “Introduction to A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark,” under the subheading “Confirming the Priority of Luke.”
  • [50] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:496-497.
  • [51] Ibid.
  • [52] See Swete, 64; Muraoka, 252.
  • [53] See George E. Nickelsburg, “Stories of Biblical and Early Post-Biblical Times,” in Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (CRINT II.2; ed. Michael E. Stone; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984), 33-87, esp. 52. However, see the reservations expressed by Jan Joosten, “Varieties of Greek in the Septuagint and the New Testament,” in The New Cambridge History of the Bible (4 vols.; ed. James Carleton Paget, Joachim Schaper et al.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013-2015), 1:22-45, esp. 36. According to Buth’s criteria, Aramaic is ruled out as the original language of Judith. See Randall Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic in Semitized Greek Texts, with an Application for the Gospels and Pseudepigrapha” (JS2, 247-319, esp. 295).
  • [54] The LXX translators rendered וַיֵּצֵא לִבָּם in Gen. 42:28 as καὶ ἐξέστη ἡ καρδία αὐτῶν (kai exestē hē kardia avtōn, “And their heart was confounded”; NETS).
  • [55] Pace those scholars who attribute Matthew’s genitive absolute clause in Matt. 12:46 to Matthean redaction. Cf., e.g., Roger Mercurio, “Some Difficult Marian Passages in the Gospels,” Marian Studies 11 (1960): 104-122, esp. 109; Davies-Allison, 2:363.
  • [56] See LOY Excursus: The Genitive Absolute in the Synoptic Gospels.
  • [57] Cf. LHNS, 70 §89.
  • [58] The ten LXX instances of the verb form εἱστήκεισαν are found in Gen. 18:2; Num. 16:27; Josh. 4:10; 2 Kgdms. 17:17; 3 Kgdms. 13:28; Isa. 6:2; Ezek. 1:21; 10:9, 17; Dan. 12:5.
  • [59] See McNeile, 184; Davies-Allison, 2:363; Nolland, Matt., 517.
  • [60] The verb form εἱστήκεισαν occurs as the translation of עֹמְדִים in Josh. 4:10; 2 Kgdms. 17:17; 3 Kgdms. 13:28; Isa. 6:2; Dan. 12:5. The other two instances where εἱστήκεισαν occurs as the translation of a participle are found in Gen 18:2 and Num. 16:27, where it is the equivalent of נִצָּבִים (nitzāvim, “standing”).
  • [61] See Hatch-Redpath, 1:501-502.
  • [62] See Dos Santos, 60.
  • [63] The aorist ἀπέστειλαν (apesteilan, “they sent”) followed by the participle καλοῦντες (kalountes, “calling”) does not look like Hebrew. Delitzsch translated Mark’s phraseology as וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ אֵלָיו לִקְרֹא לוֹ (vayishleḥū ’ēlāv liqro’ lō, “and they sent to him to summon him”), with a vav-consecutive followed by an infinitive construct. Lindsey’s translation (HTGM, 97) is identical, except that he omitted אֵלָיו (’ēlāv, “to him”).
  • [64] See Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 97.
  • [65] Cf. Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 96.
  • [66] Cf., e.g., McNeile, 184-185.
  • [67] See Davies-Allison, 2:363 n. 117.
  • [68] See C. H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel,” Journal of Theological Studies 25.100 (1924): 377-386, esp. 380; Metzger, 32; Gundry, Matt., 249.
  • [69] See Nolland, Matt., 516. The text of Codex Sinaiticus reads:

    ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος τοῖς ὄχλοις ἰδοὺ ἡ μήτηρ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ ἱστήκεισαν ἔξω ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ….

    While he was still speaking to the crowd, behold, his mother and brothers stood outside. But answering, he said to the one speaking to him….

  • [70] On λέγουσιν in Mark 3:32 as an impersonal verb, see Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel,” 379-380.
  • [71] Cf. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel,” 380; Cadbury, Style, 165. And note that Luke’s πρὸς αὐτούς (pros avtous, “to them”) in L33 introducing Jesus’ reply hints at a third person plural subject for the verb in L26.
  • [72] It is surprising to note that Delitzsch’s translation of Matt. 12:47 opens with וַיֻּגַּד אֵלָיו (vayugad ’ēlāv, “and it was reported to him”), which more closely resembles Luke’s ἀπηγγέλη δὲ αὐτῷ (“but it was reported to him”; Luke 8:20) than Matthew’s εἶπεν δέ τις αὐτῷ (“but a certain one said to him”).
  • [73] On the Lukan tendency to eliminate ἰδού, see Friend in Need, Comment to L6.
  • [74] See Bendavid, 343.
  • [75] Conzelmann’s interpretation of Luke 8:20, according to which Jesus’ relatives wish to see Jesus perform some miracle (Conzelmann, 48), has rightly been rejected by Marshall (332), Fitzmyer (1:725) and Nolland (Luke, 1:394). See also Brown et al., Mary in the New Testament, 170 n. 382.
  • [76] Delitzsch rendered τῷ λέγοντι αὐτῷ as אֶל הָאִישׁ הַמַּגִּיד לוֹ (’el hā’ish hamagid lō, “to the man who was reporting to him”), which is quite different from the Greek text.
  • [77] Cf. Brown et al., Mary in the New Testament, 168.
  • [78] See, for example, FR’s version of The Kingdom of Heaven is Increasing, which attempted to convey in better Greek style the original intention of Jesus’ saying.
  • [79] Pace Mercurio, “Some Difficult Marian Passages in the Gospels,” 119 n. 42.
  • [80] Jews did not have to stop being Jews in order to become believers in Jesus, but Gentiles had to forsake their ancestral gods, which often led to severing family ties, in order to join the Christian community. In the first centuries of the Christian era it was far more disruptive for Gentiles to become Christians than for Jews. On the disruption to kinship, ethnic, and cultic obligations involved in Gentiles’ becoming believers in Jesus, see Paula Fredriksen, “Paul, Practical Pluralism, and the Invention of Religious Persecution In Roman Antiquity,” in Understanding Religious Pluralism: Perspectives from Religious Studies and Theology (ed. Peter C. Phan and Jonathan Ray; Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf and Stock, 2014), 87-113; idem, “How Jewish is God? Divine Ethnicity in Paul’s Theology,” Journal of Biblical Literature 137.1 (2018): 193-212.
  • [81] The three year and six month duration of the drought in the time of Elijah is found only in Luke 4:25 and James 5:17, and probably also derives from Jesus’ teaching. On this unique tradition regarding the duration of the drought in the days of Elijah, see Joshua N. Tilton, “Elijah Prays About Rain,” under the subheading “Three Years And Six Months.”
  • [82] See Nolland, Matt., 518.
  • [83] See LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, under the entry for Mark 3:5.
  • [84] Cf. Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 57; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 72.
  • [85] See Gundry, Matt., 249.
  • [86] Pace Mercurio (“Some Difficult Marian Passages in the Gospels,” 109), who believed the author of Matthew took the hand gesture from a pre-Markan source.
  • [87] Bruce (363) referred to Mark’s use of κύκλῳ (kūklō, “in a circle”) as “a good Greek expression.”
  • [88] There are nine instances of ἴδε in Mark (Mark 2:24; 3:34; 11:21; 13:1, 21 [2xx]; 15:4, 35; 16:6), compared to four instances in Matthew (Matt. 25:20, 22, 25; 26:65) and zero instances in Luke.
  • [89] See LOY Excursus: Catalog of Markan Stereotypes and Possible Markan Pick-ups, under the entry for Mark 2:24.
  • [90] See Dibelius, 57, 63-64; Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 98. Cf. Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 57-58; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 73-74. Bultmann (29-30, 143), on the other hand, believed that Mark 3:31-34 was created to supply Mark 3:35 with a narrative context.
  • [91] See Bundy, 239 §145; Beare, 120 §104; Marshall, 330; Brown et al., Mary in the New Testament, 169-170.
  • [92] Examples of prophets exclaiming שִׁמְעוּ דְּבַר יי occur in Josh. 3:9; 2 Kgs. 7:1; Isa. 1:10; 28:14; 66:5; Jer. 2:4; 7:2; 29:20; 31:10; 42:15; 44:24, 26; Hos. 4:1; 2 Chr. 18:18.
  • [93] See Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 58; Barton, Discipleship and Family Ties in Mark and Matthew, 73.
  • [94] See Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 97.
  • [95] Cf., e.g., 2 Sam. 17:6; Esth. 5:5; Mechilta de-Shimon ben Yohai, Sanya 3:8 (ed. Epstein, 2).
  • [96] On Jesus’ similarity to the first-century Jewish pietists, see Shmuel Safrai, “Jesus and the Hasidim.”
  • [97] Cf. Crossan, “Mark and the Relatives of Jesus,” 97.
  • [98] On the close relationship between the Gospel of Matthew and the Didache, see Huub van de Sandt, “The Didache and its Relevance for Understanding the Gospel of Matthew.”
  • [99] Cf. Gundry, Matt., 250.
  • [100] Pace Mercurio, “Some Difficult Marian Passages in the Gospels,” 109.
  • [101] See Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 61-62.
  • [102] Pace Best (“Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 57), who allowed for only a single Markan redactional feature in Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers (viz., περιβλεψάμενος [“looking around”]) in Mark 3:34 (L38).
  • [103] Cf. Best, “Mark III. 20, 21, 31-35,” 61.
  • [104] Only by reading Luke’s version with Markan glasses is it possible to so stretch the meaning of Luke’s version of Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers. Plummer (Luke, 224), Nolland (Luke, 1:395) and J. Green (330) fall into this error.
  • [105] On Jesus’ tendency to identify and praise the good in other people, see Joshua N. Tilton, Jesus’ Gospel: Searching for the Core of Jesus’ Message, Chapter 10: The Way of the Kingdom: Love.
  • [106] Pace Hagner, 1:359.
  • [107] The tradition that Joseph was already dead by the time Yeshua, His Mother and Brothers took place is an ancient one, appearing in Epiphanius’ Panarion 78:10 §7 (fourth century C.E.).
  • [108] Cf. Buchanan, 1:546.
  • [109] See John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew (5 vols.; New York: Doubleday, 1991-2016), 1:320-332, 354-363; Geza Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend (London: Penguin, 2006), 74-75.
  • [110] See Michael Mach, “Are there Jewish Elements in the ‘Protoevangelium Jacobi’?” Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies Division A (Jerusalem, 1986): 215-222; Tim Horner, “Jewish Aspects of the Protoevangelium of James,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 12.3 (2004): 313-335.
  • [111] On the idealization of perpetual widowhood in some ancient Jewish sources, see Shmuel Safrai, “Home and Family” (Safrai-Stern, 2:728-792, esp. 788-789); Tal Ilan, Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Palestine (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrikson, 1996), 149.
  • [112] On the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, see J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (rev. ed.; San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), 492-493.
  • [113] Two other Jewish—or at least biblical—considerations may have led some believers to the conclusion that Jesus’ mother gave birth to no other children. First, the mothers of other children born from miraculous pregnancies are not usually said to have had any subsequent children. Thus Sarah gave birth only to Isaac, Manoah’s wife gave birth only to Samson, and Hannah gave birth only to Samuel. Likewise, Elizabeth gave birth only to John the Baptist. Since these women’s miraculous pregnancies paved the way for Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus, it is understandable that the notion might arise that, like these women before her, Mary had no further children. Second, in some ancient Jewish sources celibacy is regarded as a precondition for the presence of the Holy Spirit. See John C. Poirier and Joseph Frankovic, “Celibacy and Charism in 1 Cor 7:5-7,” Harvard Theological Review 89.1 (1996): 1-18. Mary’s sanctification by the Holy Spirit may have led some Jewish-Christian believers to the conclusion that Mary remained celibate throughout her life.

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