09 Mar 2014 
#80 Does Romans 8:29 indicate Paul considered Christians as (spiritual) brothers of Jesus

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As reported in post #37 (revised March 2014), Carrier claimed in his "Critical Review of Maurice Casey's Defense of the Historicity of Jesus", Section Brothers of the Lord
"All Christians knew it meant baptized Christian [!!! No evidence for that whatsoever. See my rebuttal in posts #51 and #37 about Paul allegedly thinking it]. As in fact it did. So if it could mean two different things, then Paul would have to explain which he meant [not if his audience knew already Jesus had true blood brothers. See post #20]; that he doesn’t, therefore entails he didn’t have to; which entails it meant only one thing, and the only one thing Paul tells us it would refer to, and that repeatedly, is baptized Christians [absolutely NOT, see next]."

For the last statement, the expression "brother(s) of the Lord" appears only twice in the Pauline epistles (1 Corinthians 9:5 (plural) & Galatians 1:19 (singular)): that's not "repeatedly" by a long shot.
Furthermore, in these two instances, these "brother(s) of the Lord" are never identified as baptized Christians or simply Christians.
 
To make his case, Carrier uses Romans 8:29:
"I also showed ... they [Christians] explicitly said Jesus was only “the firstborn among many brethren.” (Ref: here, on Carrier's blog under "James the (Adopted/Biological?) Brother of the Lord")
Before going any further, let's say it is not the Christians then who said that, but Paul.
Here is the verse in question:
Romans 8:29, NKJV: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren [brothers]."
 
It may look the Son is considered one of the brethren. But is it true?
 
However it is clear that, when Paul used the word "brethren" (brothers, brother) without further identification (as in 1 Corinthians 9:5, Galatians 1:19 & Romans 9:3) (81 times in the seven deemed authentic epistles), he meant all the times "Christian(s)".
 
Note: Carrier wrote: "the evidence shows Christians were all called brothers ..." (Ref: here).
 
Now if we replace "brethren" by "Christians" in Romans 8:29, we get:
"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many Christians [brethren]."
 
Gone is the (wrongly) perceived notion of a spiritual link as brothers between Jesus (the Son) and the "brethren". And if Paul wanted to express a brotherly relationship between the Son and the brethren/brothers, he would have written:
"... that He might be the firstborn of [among] many brethren."
or
"... that He might be the firstborn among his many brethren."
 
The Greek words used in the verse for "many" & "brethren" are in the dative case (while"firstborn" is accusative). That means "many brethrens" is an indirect object to"firstborn", certainly not connected by any familial (spiritual) relationship.
If Paul thought of his Christians as being "brothers of the Son/Lord/Christ/Jesus", he would have used the genitive case instead. But he did not. For further explanations, see this website.
 
Note: for all the four occurrences of "sons of God" in the Pauline epistles (Romans 8:14, 19 & 9:26 and Galatians 2:20), "God" is always in the genitive case.
Also in the two occurrences of "brother(s) of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 9:4 and Galatians 1:19), "Lord" is in the genitive case.
 
Certainly Romans 8:29 cannot be used as evidence for Paul considering Christians as brothers of Jesus, the Son of God, in any ways. Actually, what is shown here looks like a denial.
 
Note: there was a long heated debate on Carrier's blog about the topic. I was very much involved into it (search on "bernardmuller" to see my posts, usually followed by Richard's answers).

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {brother(s)} {brothers of the Lord} {Carrier} {mythicism} {Romans} {Romans 8:29}
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