Carrier on 'brothers of the Lord' from OHJ

 

The last evidence historicists appeal to (and in my opinion the only actual evidence they have) is that twice Paul mentions "brothers of the Lord', once as a generic group (1 Cor. 9.5) and once naming a specific person as belonging to it: James (Gal. 1.19). The first of these appears where Paul argues as follows:

Am I not free? Am 1 not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you. For you are my seal of apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who are putting me on trial is this: Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along with us a sister as a wife, as also the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas do? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to give up working for our keep? (I Cor. 9.1-6).

Note that this passage is out of place: the argument that Paul is answering has been lost (whatever charge he says he is defending himself against in 9.3). It would have been explained in the preceding verses, but in fact in the present letter, those verses are on a different and largely unrelated controversy (1 Cor. 8.1-13), and then the subject abruptly and inexplicably changes. Like other epistles. 1 Corinthians seems to be a mishmash of several letters, this being an example of where two were mashed together, and here the preceding part of whatever letter this came from was left out (a curious fact in itself).

Nevertheless, from what Paul goes on to say we can tell he was accused of being a lazy moocher (or threatening to be), not earning his keep but just lying about and eating the Corinthians out of house and home. And Barnabas, too, apparently; and evidently a wife in their company (most likely the wife of Barnabas, as Paul elsewhere implies he did not marry: 1 Cor. 7.7-8). Paul seems to think every traveling minister was allowed to take his wife with him, to be fed by the community along with him, at least if she was a believer (a 'sister' of the Lord). Paul's defense is that every other traveling minister was allowed to do this—that is, to do no other work but minister to the congregation, and in return be fed at the congregation's expense. He goes on to cite scripture and commandments from Jesus (which on minimal mythicism he would have received by revelation) and other arguments in defense of the principle, but his first argument is to cite the fact that Paul and Barnabas are being singled out unfairly, that since everyone else got to do it, so should they. [92]

It's important to note this context. Because Paul is not talking about the right to be married or have wives. He is only talking about the right to bring one with him when he travels and to expect the community to feed her and not expect her or him to work (beyond whatever church business they are traveling for). He is therefore only talking about Christians who are traveling on church business, which would have included not just apostles (those who received revelations of the Lord—the primary qualification he opens with—and thus who were sent by the Lord himself'to minister) but Christians of other ranks and duties (those sent by human authorities to deliver letters or conduct inter-church business).

Thus, when Paul says 'the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas' get to take wives with them on church business without having to work for their keep, he is not singling out the family of Jesus as some sort of specially privileged group never elsewhere mentioned by Paul— not even when he lists the ranks of people in the church (in 1 Cor. 12.28), where surely he would have mentioned it if the family of Jesus was being given special privileges and authority. Rather, Paul is talking about all other Christians, who were all 'brothers of the Lord' (Element 12). [93] This is evident from the fact that Paul is unaware of any need here to distinguish biological from adoptive brothers. Since all baptized Christians were the brothers of the Lord, and all Christians knew this, Paul would need to be more specific when using this phrase of actual biological kin. Indeed, such a distinction would probably have become standard practice (such as by saying 'brothers of the Lord in the flesh'). Moreover, since other Christians besides apostles must have been in the position Paul has in mind (of traveling on church business and thus in need of being fed), we should expect him to have included them in his examples. Yet they are conspicuously absent if we assume he is talking only about Jesus' kin.

It must be noted as well that Paul does not say here (or anywhere) 'brothers of Jesus', but 'brothers of the Lord', which can only be a cultic title. One does not become the brother of'the Lord' until the person in question is hailed 'the Lord', thus the phrase 'brother of the Lord' is a creation of Christian ideology. Yes, one might have earned that cultic title by actually being the brother of Jesus. But as ample evidence shows, one would also have earned it by simply being a baptized Christian. Indeed, Paul seems quite certain that one could not have any special privilege from biological relation, because apart from what tasks God had assigned you to perform in the church (1 Cor. 12.28), all Christians are equals—as Paul says in Gal. 3.26-29, where he even specifically argues that we are all equally related as sons of the same family.

Of course, it's possible (though not in evidence) that the use of the phrase 'brothers of the Lord' was being policed in such a fashion that it was only ever used of Jesus' actual kin. And thus, even though every Christian was in fact a brother of the Lord and all knew it, they were forbidden to refer to themselves with that specific sequence of words—instead they could only call themselves 'brother', and the fact that it was 'of the Lord' would then be understood but never written or spoken in that exact way.[94] In such a case, Paul could use that phrase without further qualification and always be understood to mean Jesus' actual kin. But this presumes an unlikely fact not in evidence (this unusual policing of terminology within church communications), and any theory that requires us to resort to such a thing is less probable than a theory that does not.[95] Whereas without that implausible assumption, 'brother of the Lord' would mean any baptized Christian whatever (again: Element 12).

Moreover, it is just as likely such policing of the phrase occurred in the other direction, and that only Christians who had obtained the highest stage of initiation were allowed to be referred to with the complete phrase 'brother of the Lord'. This would match what Clement of Alexandria reports, that Christians achieving the highest stage of initiation were alone fully heirs, and thus fully the sons of God (and so just as fully the brothers of the son of God: see Element 13). Since this is just as likely (or just as unlikely), even the possibility that the phrase 'brother of the Lord' was policed to mean only biological kin is then washed out by the equal possibility it was policed to mean only apostles of supreme rank. As either is as likely on prior considerations, neither prevails. And still more likely than both is that 'brothers of the Lord' is simply what Christians commonly called themselves before they acquired the name 'Christian' (an appellation Paul shows no knowledge of). The use of the complete phrase would then not be necessary other than occasionally for emphasis, hence Paul repeatedly speaks of Christians being simply 'the brethren', because everyone understood that was shorthand for 'brethren of the Lord'.

This makes 'brother of the Lord meant Christian' the simplest hypothesis (it requires the fewest ad hoc assumptions). Furthermore, that it would mean that is actually in evidence (we know all Christians in Paul's time deemed themselves brothers of the Lord in cultic fact), whereas that it meant something else is not. Not one time in all of Paul's letters does he ever say or even imply that this phrase means only biological brothers—or apostles of supreme rank, for that matter, unless that's implied by the sequence in 1 Cor. 9.5, if that sequence is supposed to indicate ascending rank: apostles, supreme apostles, and supremest apostle (i.e. Cephas). There being apostles of higher rank could also be implied by'the twelve'(in 1 Cor. 15.5) or'the pillars' (in Gal. 2.9). Could these higher ranked apostles be the biological brothers of Jesus? One would sooner think that the higher ranked apostles would be the disciples (a group once again notably completely absent here—more evidence Paul knew of no such group), or (as just noted) the pillars or the twelve (which were in no account the family of Jesus).

In fact, there is no evidence anywhere (even outside of Paul) that the brothers of Jesus were deemed as a collective whole to be the highest ranking apostles. So that cannot be what Paul means here. Nor can he mean ascending ranks at all. He can only mean that all the other apostles, even regular Christians, and even Cephas himself, get this privilege and so should Paul. Because Paul's argument requires that the Corinthians would agree Paul has the same rights as all three examples Paul names, which entails Paul cannot mean these examples to be ascending in rank—otherwise he could easily be rebutted by pointing out to him that he doesn't get the privileges of ranks he has not attained. So Paul can only be assuming none of these groups outrank him (and furthermore, for his argument to work, he can only be assuming that the Corinthians would agree). Because Paul's argument is that he should have the same rights as they do. And since he says 'the other apostles', he is including himself in that rank, so he cannot mean he has the same rights as 'the brothers of the Lord and Cephas' unless 'the brothers of the Lord and Cephas' were consistently understood to have no more rights than apostles.

Therefore, Paul must mean by 'brothers of the Lord' here simply Christians—and in particular, Christians below apostolic rank. That finally make? the point of his argument clear: if even regular Christians were being given this privilege (of being supported by the communities they traveled to on church business), then surely Paul should be, being an actual apostle. He is thus arguing a fortiori. Likewise, by mentioning Cephas. Paul clearly assumes the Corinthians understood Cephas (i.e. Peter) and himself to be equals and deserving of equal rights. Paul assumes this elsewhere, toe (1 Cor. 1.12 and 3.22). Probably Cephas was known to frequently t with his wife (more so than other apostles Paul might have named). In any case, what is required for Paul's argument is that Cephas and Paul were of equal rank, and thus whatever Cephas got, the Corinthians would be forced to agree Paul should get. Otherwise Paul could not use Cephas to make this argument. And the same entails that Paul cannot mean the biologies, brothers of Jesus: for how could Paul expect the Corinthians to assume was the equal of even the Lord's own family? Unless the Corinthians would already have agreed that their being his family gained them no special privileges—but then, if that were the case, why would Paul single them out as an example?

Thus, Paul's argument here would make no sense if he was talking about the family of Jesus. But it makes perfect sense if he was talking about Christians as a whole, and especially Christians of lower rank than himself. Against this conclusion historicists can refer only to evidence outside the Epistles, but that does not support them. The Gospels, as we saw, do conceive brothers for Jesus (and even name them), but then essentially declare that Jesus renounced them (see Chapter 10, §4). The authors of the Gospels show no knowledge of these brothers even having been believers, much less apostles; even less, privileged ones. Except Luke, who alone imagines them in the first congregation (in Acts 1), but then shows no knowledge of them ever doing anything, much less being apostles; even less, apostles of special status. For none of them appear anywhere in Acts' record of the church's public history (see Chapter 9, §3). That they don't exist in the earliest recorded history of the church argues for the conclusion that they didn't exist altogether. It certainly does not argue for the opposite conclusion, that they were a recognized privileged group in church leadership. No brothers of Jesus are found anywhere else in the NT, either; not even letters with their names on them claim such (see §3). And when it comes to evidence outside the NT, we already saw how ridiculous and unreliable it all is on exactly this point (see Chapter 8).

So Paul is surely just referring to non-apostolic Christians in 1 Cor. 9.5, and not to the family of Jesus. What about his one other reference to this category? To the Galatians Paul explains:

When it was the good pleasure of the God who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that 1 might preach him among the Gentiles. I did not confer with flesh and blood right away, nor did I go to Jerusalem to those that were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia and again 1 returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went to Jerusalem, to consult with Cephas, and I stayed with him for fifteen days, but I did not see any other of the apostles, except James the brother of the Lord. And look, these things I'm writing to you, by God, I'm not lying! Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by face to the congregations of Judea that were in Christ (Gal. 1.15-22).

Here I believe this is another Active kinship title, not a reference to James literally being the brother of Christ.[96] We've already seen how Paul can use the phrase 'brother of the Lord' to mean Christian, since all Christians were brothers of the Lord, and why Paul would have needed to be more specific if he meant 'brother of the Lord' by birth and not adoption. So here he may be simply saying the same thing, that James was a fellow brother in Christ. Indeed. Paul goes on to say that this James (unless he means a different one) was one of the three pillars of highest repute in the church, 'James and Cephas and John' (Gal. 2.9). The Gospels imagine these three as disciples, not the family of Jesus. In fact, the Gospels uniformly report that this James and John were the brothers of each other, not of Jesus.[97] Might Paul have only known them as such, too?

Certainly in Gal. 1.19 Paul meant either James the Pillar or another James. And if he meant James the Pillar, then he did not mean he was literally the brother of Jesus—as that James appears to have been the brother of John, not Jesus. So to maintain that Paul means this James was the literal brother of Jesus, you have to conclude that Paul meant a different James in 1.19 than the one he mentions soon afterward (in Gal. 2.9 and 2.12). But that means whichever James he is speaking of in 1.19 might not have been an apostle at all. And that means Paul may be using 'brother of the Lord' yet again to distinguish apostles from other Christians, and not to identify the family of Jesus.

The context of Paul's remark is again key. Paul is arguing that he received all he knows about the Christian mysteries from direct revelation (Gal. 1.6-12), that he didn't "steal" any of it by hearing other apostles teaching it and then passing himself off as an apostle who had heard it from the Lord himself (see earlier discussion in §2). Thus it was crucial to argue that Paul had not even met any apostles until long after he had been preaching the gospel and initiating converts. That's why he insists not any Christian at all in Judea had ever met him (1.22-23) and that he only ever met one apostle (Cephas, i.e.. Peter) or two (if he means James was an apostle), and even that was only after three years of conducting his own ministry in Arabia and Damascus (1.17-18). then spending just two weeks in Jerusalem, then meeting no one else there for another fourteen years (2.1).

Whether Paul is actually lying about any of this is not relevant to what Paul wants the Galatians to think and thus what Paul means to say here. And what he means to say is that no one in Judea ever met him. He swears to this most emphatically (Gal. 1.20). He admits there were only two exceptions. Peter and James, and only for a brief time (and that years after he saw the Lord personally). But in saying so, why didn't Paul just say 'of them that were apostles before me [ 1.17] 1 met none except Peter and James [1.18-19]'? Why does he construct the convoluted sentence 'I consulted with Peter, but another of the apostles I did not see, except James'? As L. Paul Trudinger puts it, "this would certainly be an odd way for Paul to say that he saw only two apostles, Peter and James'.[98] To say that, a far simpler sentence would do. So why the complex sentence instead? Paul could perhaps mean that he consulted with Peter (historeo) but only saw James (eidd)—that is, he didn't discuss anything with James. But if that were his point, he would make sure to emphasize it, since that would be essential to his argument. Yet he doesn't. In fact, if he is saying that he saw none of the other apostles, that would entail he was claiming he did not consult with any, either.

So it's just as likely, if not more so, that Paul means he met only the apostle Peter and only one other Judean Christian, a certain "brother James'. By calling him a brother of the Lord instead of an apostle, Paul is thus distinguishing this James from any apostles of the same name—just as we saw he used 'brothers of the Lord' to distinguish regular Christians from apostles in 1 Cor. 9.5. Indeed, this would explain his rare use of the complete phrase in only those two places: he otherwise uses the truncated "brother' of his fellow Christians; yet every time he specifically distinguishes apostles from non-apostolic Christians he uses the full title for a member of the Christian congregation, "brother of the Lord\ This would be especially necessary to distinguish in such contexts 'brothers of the apostles' (which would include kin who were not believers) from 'brothers of the Lord', which also explains why he doesn't truncate the phrase in precisely those two places.

You might see how that would be important to Paul's argument in 1 Cor. 9.5, where indeed he takes similar care in specifying that only believing wives have the right in question; he therefore must distinguish (so as to exclude) unbelieving brothers for the same reason. If the James in Gal. 1.19 could likewise be mistaken for an unbelieving brother of Peter (especially by readers who did not know what brothers Peter may have had), Paul would need to be equally specific there, and thus again use the complete phrase.[99] And if that's the case, then Paul would in effect be saying, "I didn't meet another of the apostles, unless you count brother James [who joined us but was not an apostle]'. Many biblical scholars have concluded the same: that Paul meant this James was not an apostle (whether or not he was the actual brother of Jesus).[100]

In fact, the Greek here is quite strange, unless Paul actually meant 'other than the apostles I saw only James', meaning quite specifically that this James was not an apostle. Ordinarily, to say you saw "no other apostle' you would write heteron ton apostolon ouk (compare Rom. 7.23; 13.9; etc.) or oudena heteron ton apostolon (as Paul usually does: e.g. 1 Cor. 1.14; 2.8; 9.15; etc.) or things similar. But here Paul instead chose the unusual (and for Paul, unprecedented) construction heteron ton apostolon. Without oudeis. the word heteron plus the genitive in this fashion more often means 'other than' rather than 'another of'.[101] Paul would then be simply classifying a meeting with 'Cephas' as a meeting with 'the apostles' (as anticipated in 1.17), and then making sure he named all the Christians he met on that occasion (Cephas and James) in anticipation of his claim that no one in Judea had ever seen him (1.22). The latter claim would be a lie if he had met any Christian, even one who was not an apostle, during his visit to Cephas (in 1.18). So Paul has to name all the Christians he met on that occasion. And, lying or not, that number needed to be low for his argument to hold. Accordingly. Paul says there was only one other: brother James.

The fact that Paul needs to say he met no Christians at all (and not just apostles) in Gal. 1.18 in order to sustain his claim in 1.22 that no one else in Judea had seen him means that we should expect Paul to have named any non-apostolic Christians he met in Gal. 1.18-19. And lo and behold, that's what he appears to do: he insists he met no one else but a certain 'brother James'. We should conclude then that Paul is doing the same thing here that he did in 1 Cor. 9.5, using 'brother of the Lord' as an appellation for Christians, every time he wants to distinguish Christians generally from 'apostles' specifically. Otherwise, as I pointed out before, Paul would need to make clear that he meant a biological brother of the Lord and not an adoptive brother of the Lord like any other Christian. That he made no such distinction here all but entails he intended none.[102] We should conclude the same.

One way to look at these two passages would be to ask what would we think if we only had Paul's (authentic) letters? If that was all the evidence we had for Christianity, would we conclude that Paul was describing with the title 'brother of the Lord' a biological relation or a cultic relation? The evidence in Paul's letters alone strongly supports the existence of the cultic relation, while providing no evidence for anyone having a biological relation to the Lord. Thus, you'll find the biological interpretation is always based on evidence outside Paul's letters. Which we have surveyed in previous chapters and found wholly unreliable. I have to conclude that there simply is no evidence in these two passages supporting historicity. They are fully explicable without it and do not make up for the gaping silence even in these passages, much less the vast and strange silence throughout the rest of Paul's letters—and all first-century Christian literature, in none of which do brothers of Jesus get mentioned in any historically credible way.[103]

So the question at hand is how likely it is that Paul would use the phrase 'brothers of the Lord'on the two occasions he does (in Gal. 1.19 and 1 Cor. 9.5), in their given context (as just analyzed), and given our background knowledge that all Christians would be known as brothers of the Lord (Element 12), and whether that probability is any different for minimal historicity (h) than it is for minimal mythicism iph). My own conclusion is that there is at best no difference in probability and at worst a difference favoring myth—since on historicity we should expect far more frequent and far less ambiguous discussion of the family of Jesus, especially if (as these passages would then entail) they were playing a major leadership role in the church at the time. I find the silence of Paul everywhere else, and his extreme ambiguity in these two passages, less likely on historicity. So my most skeptical estimate is that this is just what we'd expect on mythicism (for Paul to occasionally, and in contexts most demanding it, refer to other Christians as "brothers of the Lord") but somewhat not what we'd expect on historicity (which would sooner lead to our hearing much more about these people), at a ratio of 2 to 1 (equivalent to it being 100% likely on not h and only 50% likely on h).

However, I must argue a fortiori, and to that end I shall say it's reasonably possible these probabilities go the other way around. In other words, that Paul would speak like this on those two occasions could be only 50% expected on mythicism but exactly what we expect on historicity (or 50% expected on historicity but only 25% expected on myth, etc.). In other words, I actually think this evidence is twice as likely on mythicism, but. though I doubt it, I'll allow that it might be twice as likely on historicity. I certainly cannot reasonably believe these passages (including their internal ambiguity and surrounding silence) are any more expected than that on h than on not h.

 

 

Notes.

92. Strangely, despite extensively defending his right to material support (in I Cor. 9.3-11. 13-14). Paul also insists he never availed himself of this right (in I Cor. 9.12. 15. 18). although that leaves unclear why he didn't think that was a sufficient defense in itself (wouldn't the fact that he never did it be sufficient response to someone accusing him of doing it'.'), thus he must have availed himself of it on some occasion, or asserted he could if he wanted to. or recently insisted he receive the privilege on a future visit, requiring him to defend his right to do so here. Since we are missing the first part of the argument (containing the actual charge Paul is defending himself against) we cannot know exactly what it was.

93. This is even made clear in one manuscript (designated K. from the ninth century) which omits the definite article before "brothers', making the sentence read "the other apostles and brothers' as one unit, and not 'the other apostles and the brothers' as two units. Conversely, another manuscript (designated 1874. from the tenth century) shows someone tried changing it the other way around by actually inserting the names of Jesus' brothers, lifted from the Gospels, into the next verse (1 Cor. 9.6). See Reuben Swanson. New Testament Greek Manuscripts: Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex laticanus: 1 Corinthians (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 2003). p. 125.

94. Some have claimed that Paul uses the phrase "brother in Christ' to mean Christian, and therefore "brother of the Lord' was reserved for actual kin. but this is false. Paul never uses the phrase "brother in Christ'. Paul often speaks of 'those in Christ' (and on single occasions "saints in Christ'. Phil. 4.21; 'man in Christ'. 2 Cor. 12.2; 'babes in Christ'. 1 Cor. 3.1; and "churches in Christ'. 1 Thess. 2.14) but that does not play on the fact of their adoption as sons of God but on their communion with Christ and thus their all sharing the same body (Rom. 12.5). Otherwise Paul routinely calls Christians 'brothers', and the only sense in which they were brothers is that they were, like Jesus, the sons of God (by adoption: Rom. 1.4: with Element 12) and thus were all the brothers of God's first son. the Lord. Paul links both concepts in 1 Cor. 15.31. but still does not use the phrase 'brothers in Christ' even there. Only in the Pseudo-Pauline text of Col. 1.2 do we find the phrase 'to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ', but that was not written by Paul (indeed, that clause in and of itself is conspicuously un-Pauline). The Niv translation of Phil. 1.14 reads 'because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak' more boldly, but this is in error; the nasb correctly translates this clause as 'most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment', speak more boldly. Although either is technically possible, the context supports the latter (as does Paul's practice everywhere else).

95. See 'gerrymandering' in Carrier, Proving History, p. 336.

96. So also Verenna, 'Born under the Law', pp. 157-59: and Doherty, Jesus: Neither God nor Man, pp. 60-63.

97. Mk 5.37: 9.2: 14.33: Mt. 17.1: Lk. 5.10: 8.51: 9.28: Acts 12.2. Paul himself mentions a James in onl> two places: here in Paul's defense to the Gal. (1.19: 2.9: 2.12) and in 1 Cor. 15.7 (although that verse may be an interpolation: see earlier note). The latter does not indicate the brother of Jesus is meant, yet neither would one expect that James to be the Pillar, either, as James the Pillar would have been among "the twelve' in 1 Cor. 15.5.

98. L. Paul Trudinger. '[Ileteron de ton apostolon ouk eidon, ei me iakdbon]:A Note on Galatians I 19'. Novum Testamentum 17 (July 1975). pp. 200-202 (200).

99. Some claim Paul's use of the definite article ('the brother of the Lord') is significant, but that is not the case. For example. I Cor. 16.12 ("Apollos the brother'): Phil. 2.25 ("Fpaphroditus the brother'): Rom. 14.10 ("the brother of you'): 1 Thess. 4.6 ("the brother of one [of us]'): 1 Cor. 8.13 ("the brother of me'): 2 Cor. 2.13 ('Titus the brother of me'): I Thess. 3.2 ('Timothy the brother of us"), etc. Likewise, some claim Paul would say "James our brother' to designate his status as a Christian, but Paul never uses a personalizing pronoun of anyone not his personal friend (see I Cor. 1.1:2 Cor. 1.1: 2.13; 8.22-23: Rom. 16.1: 1 Thess. 3.2: Phil. 2.25: Phlm. I. 2. 20: rhetorical intimacy: I Cor. 8.13). and if this is the same James as in Gal. 2.9 and 2.12. Paul was anything but James's personal friend—and even if he was. he certainly would not want to remind the Galatians of that fact in an argument insisting on how little he knew these people.

100. See Trudinger. '[Heteron]'. p. 200 n. 3: and Hans Dieter Betz. Galatians: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Minneapolis. MN: Fortress Press. 1979), p. 78.

101. This is argued in Trudinger. '[Heteron]\ I find the only rebuttal to Trudinger's argument inconclusively weak: George Howard. 'Was James an Apostle? A Reflection on a New Proposal for Gal. i 19', Novum Testamentum 19 (January 1977). pp. 63-64. Howard's first argument is refuted by the fact that both the apostles and James are of the same class (they are all Christians, which is precisely Paul's point), and his second argument is refuted by relying on a premise of pure speculation that actually expects Paul to have written an even more convoluted sentence than he did.

102. Some may note that indeed Origen. in Against Celsus 1.47. denies that Paul meant this James in Gal. 1.19 was the actual brother of Jesus, claiming instead that it was a title of honor. But Origen does not say how he knows this, so I consider that information of little use.

103. Another possibility, of course, is that 'the brother of the Lord' in Gal. 1.19 is a scribal interpolation, intended to create a reference to Jesus' brother where once there was none. But that is very unlikely. It would have a prior probability of perhaps 1 in 1000 (see earlier note). Nevertheless, one could adopt this assumption ad hoc, thereby reducing the prior probability of mythicism by a factor of a thousand, and yet still come to a result that mythicism is more likely—if you adopt my less a fortiori estimates of the consequent probabilities elsewhere. See Chapter 12.

 


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