Jesus and his mother Mary
by David R. Griffiths

One thing that is apparent is that the Gospels are constructed from source material as well as the opinions of the authors added into the story.
There is material which is contradictory, showing different sources were put together, and so discordant as likely to be true.
If someone had invented the religion would they really have included the following details?

I write this at the festive season which we are told is all about family. "Holy Mary, mother of God, etc".   What did Jesus think?

How about Mark 3:31-35 when Jesus is informed his family is outside, he rejects them:

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.
32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!
35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

He is clearly suggesting that his Mother and brothers are not doing God's will. And also it is obvious they are not part of his inner circle.
The same verse is in Luke 8:20-21, and is followed by another a bit later Luke 11:27:

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Could it have been his mother, or a family member?  And this is the Gospel which has the angel explaining to Mary her Virgin birth 1:34-5.

Well, his antipathy to his family might have been because just before, after Jesus had been expelling demons, they tried to as we would say in modern parlance "certify him mad" Mark 3:21.

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind.'

This is beginning to read like a modern attack on a new religious leader. Nothing really changes, the use of psychiatry as a weapon by people who have a problem with someone
who challenges their life.   Jesus would have said they had demonic possession.

Jesus went back to Nazareth and spoke in the Synagogue, he had a bad reception:  Mark 6:3-4

3  Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
4  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”

Notice it says "among his relatives". Luke gives more detail: Luke 4:28-29

28  All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
29  They got up, drove him out of the town,and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.

And to put the icing on the cake, Jesus hated his family and the inability of the early Church to deal with this led to them being airbrushed (sorry kids "photoshopped") as saints.  Luke 14:26

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple.

In fact Jesus expected his followers to walk out on their families, promising rewards a hundred times greater in the life to come.   Mark 10:29-31

Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman writes:

"Jesus appears to have opposed the idea of the family and to have been in conflict with members of his own family....
The men who became his followers by leaving their homes.. would have been the principal breadwinners of their households...
they almost certainly created enormous hardship...  There are clear signs not only that Jesus's family rejected his message
during his public ministry but that he in turn spurned them publicly"  ("Did Jesus Exist" by Bart Ehrman pp 320-21)

And to prove he is serious Matthew 10:34-38

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 "For I have come to turn
a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

Verse 35 is a quote from Micah 7:6, it tends to confirm that Jesus had a rift with his family by justifying it in scripture.

However, first of all everyone is fallible, and if we reject the "divinity" of Christ and see him as a man then warts and all that's what you get. Genius is often frustrated by everyday people. Changing society threatens those with vested interests and the mass of people who have managed to get a position on the lower rungs of society.  The early stages of new religious groups seem threatening to these people.

But sometimes genius is self absorbed and fails to take account of the needs of everyday people. Jesus must have generated quite a bit of social friction, (as evident when he visited Nazareth) some clearly of his own doing.

Some of these passages appear questionable, in the verse that follows Luke 14:26 we read "whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" However this is entirely non sequitur as it is in the middle of the Gospel and would have meant nothing to his followers at that time. Possibly it was inserted by an early source who was horrified by the preceding "hate your family" verse and thought it made an appropriate explanation.    The "hate your family" quotation appears twice in the Gospel of Thomas, verses 55 "..whoever does not hate his brothers and sisters and take up his cross in my way will not be worthy of me." The same line as in Matthew and Luke.  And in the Gospel of Thomas verse 101 we get an entirely different interpretation:   "Whoever does not hate [father] and mother as I do cannot be my [disciple], and whoever does [not] love [father and] mother as I do cannot be my [disciple]. For my mother [...], but my true [mother] gave me life."   

The Gospel of Thomas was banned by the early Church in Rome and recently rediscovered with other banned texts that had been buried in a jar in Egypt.  Part of the manuscripts had been damaged before authorities obtained them.  Elaine Pagels in her book "The Gnostic Gospels" (page 52) argues that some gnostics viewed the Trinity as Father Mother and Son, (the Apocryphon of John) she argues the Greek word for spirit, pneuma, is asexual whereas the Hebrew word, ruah, is feminine.  Pagels refers also to the Gospel to the Hebrews where Jesus talks of "my mother the Spirit", and the Gospel of Philip says whoever becomes a Christian gains "both father and mother" and she fills out the missing words in the Gospel of Thomas as "my (earthly) mother [gave me death], but [my] true [Mother] gave me life".  

It is evident in the early Church that Jesus and Paul counted on the support of wealthy women and a rampant misogynism a century later faked various texts (eg 1 Timothy 2: 9-15) in the official Bible to put an end to female influences.  Which is the genuine quote from Jesus?  
The mention of "taking up the cross" is non sequitur to the stage of the life of Jesus at which it is made, and also reflects orthodox theology which, as mentioned by Pagels in the work cited, revelled in persecution and welcomed a death like Christ.

Tertullian, one of the central figures in the so-called "Orthodox" movement wrote:  "you must take up your cross and bear it after your master, as He has Himself instructed you. The sole key to unlock Paradise is you own life's blood".  (De Anima Ch 55)  What did Jesus teach?  One enters the Kingdom of Heaven by loving God and one's neighbour as oneself. Mark 12:23-24  Thus we can see that Tertullian an early Inquisitor type figure that opposed "heresy" and in particular gnosticism, was promoting a strange death cult, the biggest heretic was himself.  The gnostics, suffered much less persecution from pagan Roman authorities because in part they did not seek it, but is their theology original or added in?  Probably the answer is a bit of both. 

The fact that the quotes are in the Gospel of Thomas gives the possibility that the Canonic Gospels quoted Thomas or Thomas quoted them, or they both used the same proto Gospel source.  It is also possible that some of the quotes are from Jesus and other similar quotes were invented to promote a particular theology.  Truth is often stranger than fiction, while there is quite a bit of embellishment in the Bible and sections which are clearly not based in fact.

There is a Gnostic explanation for this, as the physical universe is seen to be a distraction and thus ones family is agreement with the physical universe. Whereas as spiritual beings, we are all "sons of God".

However I certainly think it is reasonable to love your family as spiritual beings (whereas the family as such, is to perpetuate the physical body, and is deeply ingrained in people as automatic behaviour). And didn't Christ say to love your enemy and blessed are the children? Seems to be some contradiction here and a great deal of forensic work necessary to separate out sources and "added in" theology.  (See the final chapter of "The Gnostic Gospels" by Elaine Pagels for more on this, page 148 in the paperback edition) 

But we see the Church today, in the main preaching materialism, as happened almost immediately after Christ. While charity is important in emergency situations, to many religion seems to be about helping the needy by giving them things.  Luke 12:13-21

Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions..

It seems the rift with Jesus' family is real, as it is stranger than fiction. Therefore we can evaluate the virgin birth as false because if it were true Mary would have supported Jesus throughout his life. This is also evident in Romans 1:3 from Paul.

Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh

When people pray to Mary is it Jesus's mother or some other construct, a feminine principle or even converted pagan Goddess such as Artemis?  If you find value in it I am not one to argue. You would in reality be praying to the Source of all things.

(references are largely from Ehrman and Pagels, interpretation entirely my own) 

shopify analytics
Subpages (1): Gospel of Paul