Sibling rivalries are as old as time. We all know about Cain and Abel, but what about Jesus and his brothers? Or the falling out between Jimmy and Billy Carter? Here are 6 of the most interesting examples of mismatched siblings throughout history:
Jesus and Who?
The New Testament mentions brothers (adelphoi in Greek) of Jesus and even names them. Yet, many Christians teach that Jesus was an only child and that the adelphoi James, Simon, Judas (different from apostles James, Simon, and Judas), and Joseph were Jesus' cousins.
In fact, according to Catholic theology, Jesus' mother, Mary, never had sexual intercourse and never bore a child other than the Messiah, so adelphoi couldn't have been his brothers. Other lines of thought tell it a little differently, claiming that the Gospel writers used adelphoi literally and that Mary was a virgin until after the birth of Jesus.
We don't want to take sides, but if these four guys really were Jesus' brothers, they got the seriously short end of the sibling stick. Imagine - not only is your brother God Almighty, he's also the most famous man in history. Meanwhile scholars are arguing about whether you ever even existed.
Charlotte Brontë and her Five Siblings
Maria and Elizabeth Brontë couldn't help being eclipsed by younger sister Charlotte; after all, they died in girlhood in the 1820s. Sister Emily, second youngest, was the family's only poetic genius and wrote Wuthering Heights (1847). Seen in retrospect as one of the finest novels in English, it was panned in its own time and she produced no more. Youngest sister Anne's novels, Agnes Grey (1847) and especially, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), were popular, if literarily undistinguished. Branwell, the one brother, drank too much, smoked too much opium, and died a failure in 1848. Emily and Anne died the next year. All of which leaves Charlotte the only Bronte to achieve popular, critical and lasting success with her novels, especially Jane Eyre (1847). In the end, she was the longest-lived of the TB-plagued Bronte siblings, surviving until age 39. She was also the only one to marry (the show-off).
John and Tom Fogarty: Bad Blood Rising
In 1959, Tom Fogarty, two school chums, and Tom's little brother, John, formed a band. Playing in the Fogarty garage in El Cerrito, California, they called themselves Tommy Fogarty & the Blue Velvets.
Then in 1964, they landed a recording contract with Fantasy Records in nearby Berkeley, Renamed the Golliwogs, the band floundered until John suddenly emerged as both a towering talent and a control freak.
As lead singer, lead guitarist, lead composer, lead lyricist, lead arranger, and lead (if not sole) band manager, he could do everything but spell. John turned the group, now called Creedence Clearwater Revival into an "overnight" sensation, cranking out top-10 singles ("Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," "Down on the Corner") and No. 1 albums.
Brother Tom? In 1971 he quit in disgust. Worse yet, he couldn't catch a break. He passed away in 1990 as a result of AIDS, a condition contracted from a blood transfusion.
Jimmy and Billy Carter: Not Like Two Peanuts in a Shell
Twelve years younger than brother Jimmy, Billy Carter found himself cast in the role of crown prince in the late 1970s. A beer-for-breakfast kind of guy who proudly wore a "Redneck Power" T-shirt, Billy sometimes embraced the role of buffoon and sometimes tried to shake the stigma.
His bid to become mayor of Plains, Georgia, close on the heels of his brother's 1976 presidential victory, failed. He also failed as manager of the family peanut warehouse. His PR makeover wasn't helped by the fact that he regularly greeted reporters while perched on a stack of beer cases in his service station. It also wasn't helped by his business initiatives: Billy once tried to cash in on celebrity, promoting a brand beer named for him.
His biggest misadventure, however, came when he accepted money from the Libyan government in return for his supposed influence with his brother. Dubbed "Billygate," the episode prompted a congressional investigation and embarrassed Jimmy as his 1980 bid for reelection approached. Billy Carter died at 51 in 1988.
Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi: Who Gets Mom's Job?
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had two son's: Rajiv and Sanjay. The elder, Rajiv, didn't want to follow in the political footsteps of his family (including Grandfather Jawaharial Nehru, founding prime minister of independent India). So, he became and airline pilot.
Sanjay, on the other hand was groomed by Mom to succeed her as leader of the Indian National Congress Party. Willful and aggressive, Sanjay pushed for his Mother's 1975 declaration of state of emergency - an unconstitutional abuse of power.
After Sanjay's death in a 1980 plane crash, though, Rajiv agreed, reluctantly, to run for the Lok Sabha when a suicide bomber - linked to Tamil separatists in southern India - killed him. Today his wife, Sonia, is active in Congress Party politics and continues the political legacy.
Bill and Roger Clinton: Little Rock
Like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton brought his own sibling of ill repute to the national spotlight.
When Bill was Arkansas governor, Roger Clinton pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine and served 15 months in prison. When Bill was U.S. president, his half brother, 10 years younger, was supposedly a rock singer.
After Bill left the White House, a congressional investigation in 2001 showed that much of Roger's considerable income during his brother's two terms had come from mysterious sources. His "musical gigs" overseas brought him big money from foreign governments, payments that suggest he was playing something other than rock and roll. (Clinton bashers say it was influence.) He also accepted money from organized crime figure Rosario Gambino, apparently in exchange for seeking leniency from a parole board.
Hey, take "the work" when you can get it. Since Bill's White House departure, rockin' Roger's music career has fizzled. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
From mental_floss' book Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History's Naughtiest Bits, published in Neatorama with permission.
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