Jesus’ secret brothers & sisters – Painting

Now this is one gorgeous ancient portrait of the holy family.  The colors are stunning. Wish it showed Jesus’ sisters, too.  At least we get a look at one sibling.  See below… (and please peruse my ponderings at the end)


Documentary claims Jesus had ‘secret’ siblings
London, December 23, 2006

Author Dan Brown caused an uproar when he suggested in The Da Vinci Code that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and that they had a family.

However, a never seen before ancient portrait suggests that though Jesus may have had a family, it might not be the one Brown suggests.

The portrait, which was discovered deep in the wilderness of the Judean desert, in a remote part of the Holy Land in an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery of St Gerasimos, has a highly unusual portrait of the Holy Family, for along with Mary, Joseph and Jesus, it also shows the presence of a fourth member – a young man.

And what makes this young man’s presence even more interesting, is the fact that though simply clad in a dark robe and carrying his belongings on a stick, there is a golden halo which envelops his head.According to a controversial Channel 4 documentary, the man’s name is James, and reason why he is included in the picture, is because he happens to be Jesus’ blood brother.

James’ inclusion in this picture is a clue to a real-life church conspiracy to cover up the fact that Jesus did have a hidden family – his siblings: James, Joses, Simon, Jude (sometimes referred to as Judas), Salome and young Mary, reports the Daily Mail.

Dr Robert Beckford, a committed Christian and reader in theology at Oxford Brookes University as well as the man behind the new findings also reveals in the documentary that the Bible itself mentions Jesus’ siblings with a reference in the Gospel of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, where when Christ preaches at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, the citizens question his claim to be the new Messiah with the words “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary, and his brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas? And are not his sisters here with us?”

Dr Beckford further supports his argument with a passage from the gospel of St Mark in which Jesus’ family go searching for him one day when he is preaching.

“A multitude was sitting around him and they told him: ‘Behold your Mother, your brothers and your sisters are outside looking for you.’ ”

The documentary also suggests that not only did Jesus’ siblings apparently play a crucial role in the founding of Christianity, but that their teachings were so much of a threat to the official church that it ruthlessly tried to eradicate them from history by rewriting Christ’s life story, fabricating his place of birth, falsely crediting him with creating the Lord’s Prayer and even inventing the idea that his mother Mary remained a virgin throughout her life.

It also implies that James, the man in the portrait, was the one chosen by Jesus to lead the church after his death, and not St Paul, as is commonly believed.,001100020016.htm

Did Jesus Have a Secret Family?
By DAVID LEAFE 22nd December 2006, The Mail

A family affair: the painting shows Jesus on the shoulder of Joseph, followed by Mary and, behind her, what is now claimed to be Jesus’s brother, James.

Is the man on the left of this picture the key to unlocking a mystery even bigger than the Da Vinci Code…and the proof that Jesus had a secret family? 

Deep in the wilderness of the Judean desert, in a remote part of the Holy Land which has changed little since Biblical times, there stands an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery with a highly unusual portrait of the Holy Family hidden in its chapel. 

Showing the young Jesus being carried on the shoulder of Joseph, while his mother Mary rides behind them, it appears similar at first to the thousands of other such images painted over the centuries. 

This is a picture you are unlikely to see on any Christmas card, however, for next to Jesus, Mary and Joseph there is a mysterious fourth figure – a young man with a golden halo who is wearing a simple dark robe and carrying his belongings on a stick. 

His name is James and, according to a controversial Channel 4 documentary to be screened on Christmas Day, his inclusion in this picture is a clue to a real-life church conspiracy as disturbing as anything dreamed up by Dan Brown in his bestselling religious thriller, The Da Vinci Code. 

In that novel, Brown speculates that Christ was married to his loyal follower Mary Magdalene and that they had a daughter together. However, it seems the novelist may have missed the point. 

According to Monday’s programme, Jesus did have a hidden family, but they were not a wife and daughter – rather his brothers and sisters: James, Joses, Simon, Jude (sometimes referred to as Judas), Salome and young Mary. 

These secret siblings apparently played a crucial role in the founding of Christianity, but their teachings proved too dangerous for the official church. 

Taking over their movement, it tried to eradicate them from history by rewriting Christ’s life story, fabricating his place of birth, falsely crediting him with creating the Lord’s Prayer and even inventing the idea that his mother Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. 

Presented by Dr Robert Beckford, a committed Christian and reader in theology at Oxford Brookes University, the claims will outrage many Christians and particularly Roman Catholics, for whom the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin is a key part of their faith. 

However, Dr Beckford says the Bible supports his arguments. 

For evidence that Mary had other children besides Jesus, he points to the Gospel of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. 

This describes Christ preaching at the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth where the citizens question his claim to be the new Messiah. 

“Is not this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary, and his brothers James, Joses, Simon and Judas?” they demand. “And are not his sisters here with us?” 

Christ’s family are also mentioned in the next gospel, in which St Mark relates how they go searching for him one day when he is preaching. 

“A multitude was sitting around him and they told him: ‘Behold your Mother, your brothers and your sisters are outside looking for you.’ ”

Over the centuries, theologians have concocted various theories to explain away these references. The most common is the view accepted by the monks of the St Gerasimos monastery which houses that intriguing painting of the Holy Family. 

They do not know who painted the picture or when, only that it dates back many hundreds of years, but they are clear about the relationship of James to Jesus. 

They believe Joseph was a widower who had children from his first marriage when he met Mary and that James and his siblings are only Jesus’s half-brothers and sisters. 

If true, this could explain why there are so few pictures of these shadowy half-siblings who, as relatively minor figures, would not have merited inclusion in those pictures which illustrated the most important people and events in Jesus’s life. 

However, Dr Beckford has a more sinister theory as to why the glimpse of James in the St Gerasimos picture is so rare. He believes that the early clerics suppressed such portraits because they knew these were Jesus’s full-blood brothers and sisters. 

The same censorship is apparent in the Gospels, he argues. As we have seen, both Matthew and Mark mention Jesus’s family briefly, but although the Gospel of Luke drew heavily on these earlier works, it does not mention any other children of Mary and Joseph. 

Dr Beckford maintains that the reasons for this censorship can be found in a vicious power struggle among the early Christians in the years after Christ’s death in approximately 33AD. 

The Gospel of John suggests that Jesus asked his disciple Peter to take care of his flock and, indeed, it is Peter who is traditionally regarded as the first leader of the Christian church. 

Yet at least four different documents written by reputable historians of the time, but not included in the Bible, suggest that Christ wanted his eldest brother James, and not Peter, to lead his church. 

This is clear from the writings of Hegesippus, a respected early chronicler of the Christian faith, who is believed to have lived between 110AD and 180AD. 

“The succession of the church passed to James, the brother of the Lord,” he said. 

As the first Bishop of Jerusalem, James had an arch-rival in the apostle Paul, whose teachings differed from his in one key respect: the issue of whether Jesus really was the son of God. 

Like Jesus, James was a Jew and, in line with Old Testament prophecies, he believed that Jesus was an ordinary man chosen by God to lead his people. This was very different to the idea championed by Paul that Jesus was a divine being, born of God himself. 

Although Paul never met Jesus and based his beliefs on a series of mystical visions, his ideas quickly gained popularity as more and more Gentiles joined the movement and the Jewish-Christians led by James soon found themselves outnumbered. 

Then the Jewish-Christians suffered two very serious setbacks. 

In the year 62AD, James was stoned to death on the orders of the Jewish High Priest of the temple in Jerusalem, who was jealous of his influence. 

Just five years later, the Romans captured Jerusalem and destroyed the great temple itself, robbing James’s followers of their headquarters and the focus of their faith. 

Parading the temple’s sacred treasures through the streets of Rome, the marauders sold off the looted gold to pay for the building of their city’s most famous landmark – the Coliseum. 

The downfall of James’s Jewish Christianity was complete, and when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Holy Roman Empire in the 4th century AD and the church fathers began to compile the New Testament, they set about obscuring the existence of James and Jesus’s other brothers and sisters. 

At the same time, many of Paul’s teachings became enshrined in official church doctrine, including the belief that salvation could be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God. 

According to Dr Beckford, this idea was perhaps more palatable to the establishment because it could be interpreted, wrongly, to mean that the rich and powerful could redeem themselves through this belief alone, without any need to change their lifestyle. 

Having settled on this doctrine, Dr Beckford believes that the church then began altering the details of Christ’s life to support the idea that he was a divine being. 

He says there is virtually no evidence in the Bible for the assertion that Mary was a perpetual virgin, but the early church elevated her to this status since it seemed more fitting for the mother of God. 

They also set about changing the circumstances of the Nativity itself. 

For 2,000 years, the traditional Christmas story has related how Jesus was born in Bethlehem near Jerusalem, after Mary and Joseph travelled there from Nazareth to register for a Roman census. 

However, Bethlehem is 90 miles away from Nazareth, and Dr Beckford questions whether a woman who was nine months pregnant could really have undertaken this arduous four-day journey on a donkey. 

He points out that there is another town called Bethlehem which is in Galilee. In 1992, building works there revealed the ruins of a 6th-century church – built on top of the kind of natural cave in which many scholars believe Christ was born. 

Since this Bethlehem is only four miles from Nazareth, Dr Beckford believes this cave is more likely to have been the genuine site of the Nativity, but that the church fathers had good reason to suggest that Christ’s birth took place in its now celebrated namesake instead. 

In this, they were fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy which stated that the new Messiah would be a descendant of King David, and this meant he had to be born in the same town as David – in the Bethlehem near Jerusalem. 

In their attempts to establish Christ’s divinity, Dr Beckford claims that the early church fathers also played down the role of one of the most important figures in the Christian movement, the prophet John the Baptist. 

He cites the passage in the Gospel of Luke which introduces the Lord’s Prayer. “He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him: ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’ ” 

This translation from the Greek suggests that the disciples are referring to the act of praying in general but it could equally be interpreted to mean: “Teach us the prayer that John taught his disciples.” 

The idea that John was the creator of the Lord’s Prayer raises a possibility which was unacceptable to the early church and which remains unacceptable for many Christians today: that John was Jesus’s teacher rather than Jesus being John’s teacher. 

According to Dr Beckford, the Bible editors did all they could to reject this notion, as is apparent in the Biblical accounts of Jesus’s baptism. 

The fact that John baptised Jesus is clear from the Gospel of Mark, the first to be written. But Matthew, the second oldest gospel, introduces a line in which John protests that he is unworthy of this task, while the other gospel writers, Luke and John, make no mention of John the Baptist’s role at all. 

Like Dr Beckford’s other ideas, this will no doubt be the subject of scholarly debate for many centuries to come. However, he insists that, away from the ivory towers of academia, his arguments have a very real significance for how Christians live their lives today. 

In emphasising the belief that Jesus was God’s son, he warns that Christianity risks losing sight of its original message, as preached by James. 

This focused on the need to serve God not only through abstract worship and prayer, but also in our everyday actions, and this is perhaps something we should remind ourselves of as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth once again this Christmas. 

In that way, although it is difficult to imagine a time when James and Jesus’s other brothers and sisters will be depicted on Christmas cards or portrayed in Nativity plays, we can perhaps acknowledge their legacy and restore to them the place in history which, it seems, they have been denied for so long.

Katia’s Ponderings
I am so glad the New Testament records the names of Jesus’ brothers but of course I wish it told us his sisters’ names, too.  Because the word sisters, a plural word, is used and not sister, we know he had at least TWO sisters.  Legend settled with that and named them Salome and Mary, the two most popular names for girls in the first century A.D.  Jews then and now never name daughters after mothers, nor after any living relative for that matter.  Has to be a deceased family member if you’re going to do the namesake thing. Only a posthumously born child can be named after a parent, and for obvious reasons, these are always males.  So there is no way Jesus had a sister named Mary.

And wouldn’t it be cool if he had just as many sisters as brothers?  Or howabout more?  My grandmother was one of twelve children, six boys and six girls.  It is possible.  Daughters were so undervalued that they don’t even list them.  I have often imagined Jesus aka Yeshua with a sister named Rebecca or Rifka, the ancient form of the name.

James a Younger Brother?
I don’t care for the elderly Joseph, young Mary, Jesus had step-brothers theory.  I prefer to envision James and all of Yeshua’s siblings as the children of Mary.  That would make James, a younger brother of Jesus.  Apparently the painter of this icon didn’t think so and painted James as older.  At first look, I wondered if the “James” character weren’t Mary’s brother.  They are painted so similarly. 

James is Carrying What?
And what the heck is that flail on James’ hand? He’s goading / prodding the horse it looks like.  Interesting it’s a white horse, symbol of a royalty, wealth, and of the messiah (Hinduism teaches the messiah Kalkin will return on a white horse). 

James’ traveling stick with travel bag attached is reminiscent of the Fool card in Tarot.

Son of Goddess?
I think it’s cool James also has a halo in the portrait they found in the desert monastery (St Gerasimos).  Maybe the painter is simply communicating he was a saint, not divine.  But, could he be born of a divine mother, a god-ess?  I like to think the early church deemed him divine thru his mother Mary, our Christian Goddess, so long ignored.  She is Sophia, god-the-mother incarnated.  She came into the world to bring god-the-son and to assist him in his mission. 

Did Yeshua come to educate us, enlighten us, “save” us, what?  And Sophia-Mary, why did she incarnate?  Who ARE these people and are they among us today?  Possible, possible, I supposed.  The so-called Buddha-boy in India today has many thinking Buddha has reincarnated.  He was born 160 miles from Buddha’s birthplace and is behaving much like Buddha.  But I have flown off topic…


Katia Romanoff

P.S. Merry Christmas, 2006 (Or Kristmas, as we like to spell it at our Mystery School: )

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Katia is a consecrated independent sacramental bishop. She directs the online Esoteric Mystery School and Interfaith Theological Seminary. Check it out at

10 thoughts on “Jesus’ secret brothers & sisters – Painting”

  1. Is this painting supposed to be the flight into Egypt? Yes, Jesus is older than a baby, but definitely shown as a child.
    Jesus’ halo is different than the other three. If James was born of a Goddess, wouldn’t the Goddess have a special halo, too?
    James does look the age of a brother to Mary or a son of Joseph, as represented in the painting. It’s very interesting to have the fourth figure in the painting, but if you don’t like the portrayal of Joseph as older, then we may as well discount the young man as well. All elements were the decision of the artist (or patron), at the place and time it was made.
    Here is a thought – could the young man be Joseph and the older man another Saint closer to the family? One would expect the head of the household to be at the front, but still…?

  2. Nice work, Dr. Romanoff.

    The above article leads one to conclude that Christianity would be radically different had James continued the ministry of Jesus.

    But what would that look like? What does James teach us of Jesus and of Jesus’ ministry?


  3. What if??? = the young man at the rear were, as one commentor above postulated as a possibility 🙂 were the brother of Mary ? Might not that man, then, be Joseph of Arimathea, perported to be the uncle of Jesus, and, as such, according to Jewish tradition, the eldest male family member to assume repsonsibility for Jesus (and family) upon the death of his father, Joseph?
    Joseph of Arimathea’s role of leadership and closeness to Jesus – including after the crucifiction and with Mary Magdelene – is well established, though equally well pushed aside (terribly inconvenient in most circles) – (It was also law, wa it not, at the time of the crucifiction, that only a family member could request and receive permission to take the body of a crucified “criminal” for burial)
    WE know that James the Just and Mary Magdelene were shoved aside by the church heirarcy, and why – but we tend to ignore that Joseph of Arimathea was equally ‘buried.”

  4. Oh – and obviously (?), per the palm trees, this represents the flight into Eygpt –
    Also, the painting itself NAMES the people in it –
    painted in red letters beside each person is their name – the name of the person we are debating is at his left, but cut in half out of the photo – is this deliberate? Is there another photo of the painting in it’s entire?

  5. Namasthe Katia: What you wrote is very thought provoking.

    I am extremely curious about world history, specially about the history of Christianity. My hats are off to missionaries for taking care of the poor and sick of this world. But I have to add, in all the statements of Jesus, I see the summation of various Hindu thoughts and concepts.

    Why many fear the book and movie Da Vinci Code? Answer is very clear.

    Fear of reemergence of Gnosticism. The institution of “Opu Dei” took birth in Catholic religion to eradicate everything associated with “Gnosticism.”

    Why they fear Gnosticism? Since it has to do more with Hindu Upanishds teachings than with Christianity.

    There are two set of Gospels in the world. First set of gospels which one can read in the Holy Bible are called Synoptic Gospels which consist of Gospels of Mathew, Luke, John etc.

    Another set of Gospels are known as Gnostic gospels. They were written by Thomas [doubting Thomas], Mary Magdalene, Stephen etc. Chruch destroyed these gospels since it has more to do with Hindu Upanishads than accept beliefs of early Christian church.

    But Gnosticism came back to life when fifty-two ancient texts were found buried in an earthenware jar near the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945.

    “Gnosis” is a Greek word meaning “knowledge” like Vedas means “knowledge”. The Gnostics claim to have inner knowledge of God like Hindu Rishis.

    Like what is taught in Upanishads, Gnostics believed God is not a separate entity to be prayed to, but God is within every one of us as well as around us. Like Hindus, Gnostics also believe God has male as well as female attributes.

    Gospel of Mary Magdalene reads: “Take care that no one deceives you by saying “Look over here”, “Look over here”….For the true child of humanity is within you. Follow it. For those who seek it will find it.”

    In Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him.”

    Amazing it may sound an important statement of John 1:1 in the Bible “In the beginning was the Word (In principio erat Verbum), and the Word was with God (Et Verbum erat apud Deum) and the word was God (Et Deus erat Verbum) is a repetition of Vedic statement “Prajapathi Vai Agre Aseet” In the beginning was Prajapati, The Brahman, The God “Tasya Vag dvitiya Aseet” with whom was the word: “Vag Vai Parama Brahman” and the word was verily the Supreme Brahman –

    Thanks for reading.

  6. Namaste – What a brilliant discussion/thread this is.

    The only problem I have with The Bible is that it is a construct, and therefore unreliable. I think the silencing of women (in the Bible) was a masterpiece of Holy Spin and has served to keep women in their place, (wherever that may be) for 2,000 years. Are we all waking up to the possibly that our spiritual wellbeing is in our own hands, and not out of our control in the hands of others?

    Are all religions political and capable of being manipulated and used for an individuals or countries gain? Whereas ones own spirituality is sacred and untouchable. Can the Christian church see its power drifting away? I think this discussion will go on for 100’s of years

    In the end though Love is the only thing that is real. Namaste

  7. Cool…I Absolutely Believe Jesus Had Brothers & Sisters…With Joseph As The Father Together With Holy Mother Mary..I Even Believe Jesus Had A Physical Father..A Deep Heavenly Secret..So Secret..Heaven Instructed Zacharias To Not Even Speak Of It..

    Love, Prayer , Tears, Truth & Joy,..
    For Secret Heavenly Truths Revealed,..
    Jae & Mea & God’s Absolute Restoration Family

  8. Before we let our imaginations get ahead of us, let’s not overlook the obvious.

    The “older sibling” is John. Unless, of course, you are fine with the idea that Mary wasn’t a virgin when she conceived Jesus.

    But that still doesn’t indicate that jesus had siblings (plural).

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