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BROTHERS OF THE LORD – St. James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, Joses, Simon, and Judas are referred to as brothers of Christ (Matt. 13:55). In the ancient Middle East one’s close relatives were frequently referred to as brothers and sisters. Also, there is an ancient tradition that the “brothers and sisters” of Christ were actually children of St. Joseph from an earlier marriage; they are called the children of Mary although they are actually her stepchildren. Thus, these references to siblings of Christ do not contradict the ancient belief of the Orthodox Church that the Virgin Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Christ. The absence of blood brothers is suggested by Christ’s act of entrusting Mary to the care of the apostle John (John 19:26, 27), which would have been against the Mosaic Law had she had other natural children.