Mark 6:3

Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters, too, living here among us?” This proved a hindrance to their believing in him;


political campaigns innuendo filled
child’s play compared to G*D debates
a thousand paper cuts are employed
because we’re too nice to kill outright

every war advantage applied to love
reveals well-practiced generals
killing softly with well-honed expectations
beyond which angels fear to tread

sophisticated bullies never lift a hand
wedded to a support system
gives license to sweetly abuse
psychically stonily publically privately


Mention of family brings to mind a previous reference in 4:31–35 wherein Jesus redefines family away from tribal blood. One rejection leads to a next.

If Jesus is going to redefine who his “family” is, it soon comes to a time when his previous life can, in turn, be rejected by an extended family or hometown.

The avoidance of rejection is not a reason to avoid the difficult work of understanding where one is grounded: by what characteristics will I be known?

Some details to attend to here include:

  • Mark begins with Baptism, not Birth. Mark cannot be appealed to as a reference to a much later tradition of Virgin Birth.
  • Lists of family members are as difficult as lists of disciples. Linguistically, “brother” can be a generic term that includes cousins or extended tribal members. Is the addition of “younger” in Mark 15:40 a second James? In that same verse is Salome the only named sister or is this a different Mary? What about Matthew 13:55 that adds Joseph and does not mention Joses, Judas, or Simon?
  • “Carpenter” is too loose a translation of τέκτων (tektōn, builder) which indicates a skilled craftsperson a notch above an ordinary carpenter.
  • In a patriarchal society to call someone by their mother’s name and not their father’s is a common insult form that has come down to us in the form of, “Your mother is ….”

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