Q. The Bible says Jesus had “brothers and sisters,” so why does the Catholic Church say He was an only child?
A. Ancient languages such as Hebrew and Greek did not always clearly distinguish among different kinds or degrees of kinship. “Brother” or “sister” was often used to designate all who were of the same family or clan. In Genesis 14:16, for example, the Hebrew text speaks of Lot as Abraham’s “brother,” though Lot is actually his nephew. In the same biblical book, Jacob calls his uncle Laban “brother” (Genesis 29:15). For this reason, some translations render the word here as “kinsman” instead.