Help settle a debate between my mother and me:
So I asked my mom last night if she thought Jesus would have been bullied by his siblings last night as a bit of a joke, and she responded with a huge speech about how Jesus had no siblings. One of the things she kept coming back to was the fact that when Jesus is dying on the cross, he asks one of his disciples to look after her. According to my mom, the other siblings would have been required to take her in according to the laws back then. But she also doesn’t have any real knowledge of ancient Judean laws to back this claim up. I also lack this info, so if anyone here might know about the rules back in the day, please feel free to help us!
“Judean law” would be a misnomer here. Judea was a Roman province, so the only law was Roman law. As it happens, though, Jesus was not Judean anyway, but Galilean, under the independent tetrarchy of Herod Antipas. The real question is what *Jewish* law required, and that is answered in the Ten Commandments. “Honor Your Father and Mother,” which included taking care of them in their old age (there was no social security, children were the safety net). Jesus condemns the Korban practice for just this reason (MT. 15:2-6, Mk. 7:9-12).
Mark 6:3 (and Matthew 13:55 following) says unambiguously that Jesus had brothers and sisters. Nowhere does the New Testament ever say that Mary stayed a virgin her whole life and Paul himself says that Jesus had brothers (Galatians 1:19, 1 Corinthians 9:5).
Your teacher references John 19:26 in which Jesus, from the cross, says to the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” (who is never actually named in the Gospel or identified as John), “Mother, behold your son.”
This does not appear in any of the other Gospels and could have theological meaning rather than any historical provenance. John claims that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5), it is very anti-Jewish in general and it may represent an attempt to detract from the authority of Jesus’ family in the early church, particularly James, who Paul says was the leader of the church after Jesus died.
By the way, many scholars make an argument that the Beloved Disciple was intended to refer to Lazarus, not John of Zebedee. The Gospel says repeatedly that Jesus “loved” Lazarus (11:3, 11:5. 11:36) and does not make this claim for any other individual disciple (although it does have Jesus say he loved all the disciples collectively).
Anyway, even though Jewish law required children to take care of the their parents, it didn’t forbid anyone else from stepping in to do it if they wanted to. It’s pretty well accepted by critical scholars that Jesus had brothers regardless of who took care of their mother.