▪ Some believe that the two men were second cousins. This belief is based on an imprecise translation of Luke 1:36. In that verse, the King James Version, for example, states that John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were cousins.
In reality, however, the word used in the original Greek of this verse is not so specific. It indicates merely that the two women were related, not necessarily that they were cousins. As The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible puts it, “the term is too broad to be of help in determining their precise relationship.” From where, then, does the idea come that Jesus and John were cousins? The Catholic Encyclopedia answers: “All our information concerning . . . the parents of Mary . . . is derived from apocryphal literature.”
Thus, Jesus and John were at least distantly related, though not necessarily second cousins.