I realize the talking-point on "James" ossuary has had much airing recently on various Lists but to my knowledge it has not appeared in this List -- it being seemingly off-topic. Apologies are tendered for introducing it here but as Johannine literature touches on James implicitly at least (see John 7.5) I do not see this posting as irrelevant to this List. So please bear with me!
It seems to me that the debate about the ossuary has undergone a subtle switch hermeneutically. That is from its beginning it was taken for granted in the debate that James was a blood-brother of Jesus, pure and simple. Whereas James' being associated on the ossuary inscription with Jesus was not necessarily that of a blood-brother alone in a biological sense but as well could be associated with him very closely in a domestic sense (see in support Matt 10.35-36 where we see close kin living together in the same house complex spending out their early formative years sharing communally the same food, shelter, manual work, worship at the synogogue, recreational pursuits etc.
As such they were called "brothers" and "sisters" trippingly as it were "off the tongue." I have spoken with migrants to Australia asking them (people from the Far East and Middle-east countries and cultures) whether they ever identified themselves to each other and to strangers while living under the same roof in their homeland etc. by the term "brother" or "sister". Their answer was decidedly Yes, they did. You might know in America isolated social groups especially who though unrelated, address one another as "brother" and "sister" all living in the same house complex as if they were actually biologically related. The migrants and visitors here in Australia approached thought it a strange question as if it was normal practice everywhere. I draw attention to the fact that for my purpose here, esp. Middle East cultural mores, addresses and social customs survive essentially unchanged over millenia at times.
The meaning behind the celebrated terms, "brother" and "sister" in the NT could well be clarified by adopting this approach. In my modification to the Hieronymian theory as to who was who and who was what in Mark 6.3 par., in departing from the theory of Jerome, I single out James and Joses implicitly referred to in this text as children of Alphaeus and "Mary", Alphaeus being unrelated to both Clopas and Joseph who were uterine brothers.
This would mean that for starters in regard to the ossuary inscription James could not have been sired by Joseph! This "Mary", upon Alphaeus' death then married Clopas (pace Eisenmann) whose first wife had died. Before her death, she mothered Simon and Jude. Upon Clopas' and "Mary's" marriage, they naturally brought all their children (James, Joses, Simon and Jude) to live with them as would be expected. This was made easy by their all living under the same roof and that includes Joseph, Mary and Jesus (Joseph being the blood-brother of Clopas). These four "brethren" grew up with Jesus but not all were unbelievers in Jesus and his mission. It is in John 7.5 that we have one of them reporting that the three other men were such. I cannot but single out this reporter as being other than the B.D. himself who would certainly know of their intransigence in regard to Jesus, having grown up with them from his earliest days! Perhaps the ossuary could be a stark vestige of a debate at the time (early centuries) between those who interpreted the word "brother" in Galatians in a domestic sense and those who saw the relationship of James and Jesus as purely biological. Pardon the pun but I make no bones about the above thoughts!
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