Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Brothers of our Lord

Readers of this blog may remember that I recently wrote about a book by Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I enjoyed it so much that I bought his earlier book, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus, which I am half way through. It, too, is a fascinating and enjoyable book.

Amongst other things, I must confess that 1 Corinthians 9:5 had not made the impact on me that perhaps it should have. Paul writes: ‘Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?’ The point is that he mentions the ‘brothers of the Lord’ as a distinct group who travelled around with their wives preaching and teaching for Jesus.

It reminds me of how much we don’t know about what was going on in the first years of the Church and how easy it is to impose a later perspective on it. It is so important to read the Bible in its historical context. This calls for some imagination as we try to picture what life really was like.

I remember the first time I went to Galilee. I was shocked by how small the Sea of Galilee was. I imagine that if we could travel back in time to the time of Jesus and the early days of the Church, there would be many such shocks and surprises! Time travel, sadly, is not an option, instead we must rely on the glimpses that work such as Bauckham’s gives us.

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