Robert Beckford explores the historical evidence for claims that Jesus had brothers and sisterscousins, aunts, uncles and nephews, as well as a deep friendship with Mary Magdalene. Beckford and many other theologians believe that Jesus did indeed have an extended family that survived some 300 years after his death. However, they have been airbrushed from history and excised from the Bible as the result of a power struggle in the early church. The idea that Jesus was a divine being is backed by the claim that his mother Mary was a virgin and that his birth was the miraculous work of God. There is evidence from the Gospels and other documents that Mary and Joseph had other children besides Jesus, and that he grew up in an ordinary Jewish family, surrounded by brothers and sisters. For most Christians Mary’s virginity is central to their faith, and many consider it heresy to suggest that Jesus was not her only child. After Jesus died, those descended from his family and friends, led by his brother James, saw the original Christian message as a renewed version of Judaism, and first and foremost wanted to persuade other Jews to join them. In opposition to Jesus’ family, Christians led by Peter and Paul wanted to establish a new religion to include non Jews. Peter and Paul’s version won out. They placed more emphasis on Jesus’ divinity rather than his humanity, and wrote the human story of Jesus’ family out of Christian history. Peter and Paul’s version of Christianity developed in opposition to the Jewish Christianity of Jesus family and friends and resulted in a seam of antisemitism down the ages. Some churches explain the references in the Bible to Jesus’ brothers and sisters by saying either that they were not Mary’s children but the children of Joseph from a previous marriage, or that they were cousins of Jesus. According to the earliest Gospel (of Mark) Jesus was a disciple of John, who taught and baptised him, and not the other way round.