Last week I had a link to the 50th episode of Mark Goodacre's NT Pod in which he discusses the possible identification of Jesus' sisters. This week he looks at the identity and activity of Jesus' brothers and asks: What do we know about the brothers of Jesus?
Interestingly, Goodacre does not start with the gospels but with Paul. In 1 Corinthians 9:5 Paul mentions the brothers of Jesus and their wives. Goodacre points out that these family members appear to not only be known followers of Jesus, but are also active in spreading the message about Jesus. Paul compares them to himself and Peter in the context of defending his ministry.
Of course all of this, as Goodacre points out, does not match what we find in the gospels. For instance in Mark 3:20 Jesus' family sets out to get hold of him since they think he is crazy and in John 7:4 we read that not even Jesus' own brothers believed in him.
So what happened?
Was there a change of heart? Was it because of a resurrection appearance to them? Or was it because the brothers were actually much more involved from the beginning and when the gospel writers came to the brothers role it was spin in a much more negative light? Did some early Christian writers have concerns about or objections to the prominent role taken by some of Jesus' family, James in particular, and therefore portrayed them in a negative light? Listen to what Goodacre has to say and see what you think.