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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Question: What Happened to Joseph? - Le Donne

I find it odd that Mark betrays no knowledge of Joseph, but that Jesus' father plays important roles in Matthew and Luke. The Fourth Gospel, at least, mentions Joseph. Moreover, what happened to him? Why is Mary orbiting the various stories of Jesus' public career, but Joseph isn't?

I've heard a few speculations, but I could use some help from the Church historians among us to find out what the historical conversation has been on this topic.

-anthony

10 comments:

  1. It's been a while since my first year of seminary, but I remember Andries Van Aarde's book, "Fatherless in Galilee," tackling this question well.

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    1. does he do much with patristic literature?

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  2. he died before jesus was crucified. that's the standard view of the reformers

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  3. Haven't read it, but have a look for yourself: http://books.google.com/books/about/Fatherless_in_Galilee.html?id=-5X1F0KWeAsC
    Pp. 115ff look promising.

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  4. What about the early view (cf. Tertullian, "Against Marcion") that Jesus descended straight from Heaven to Galilee?

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    1. Perhaps "Joseph" was the name of the bus driver who drove Jesus from the Pearly Gates to Galilee.

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    2. Could be!

      Slightly more likely than the bus driver theory, though, would be that Matthew couldn't find Jesus' birth records down at the courthouse, so he had to fill in the gaps. We have a new Moses here, right down to the slaughter of the innocents (cf Josephus' Antiquities) and the sojourn in Egypt, so Miriam and Joseph are symbolically rich names to give his parents. All that Jewish hoopla about the Messiah ben Joseph might tie in somehow as well.

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  5. Bauckham's chapter on Jesus' family in Jesus among Friends and Enemies gives lots of information on Joseph and treats the Patristic sources. If I remember right, he goes with the view that Joseph was older when he married Mary and likely died long before Jesus' public ministry.

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  6. If Jesus' brothers really did come looking to take Him home (kidnap?) because they thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21), it suggests a very dysfunctional family. It further suggests that either they did not believe Mary's account of Jesus' arrival or Mary did not share the story with them. It seems that if Joseph was around when the boys were growing up he would have partnered with Mary (thus two witnesses) to inculcate the kids with the understanding of who their eldest (half)brother was.

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