4a - Jesus missing years
Mission

TGI Monday: The 'missing years' in the life of Jesus

 

What about the ‘missing years’ of Jesus’ life which the Bible doesn’t tell us about? Where was he? What was he doing? Did he journey to India and train to be a yogi? When did Joseph die? Did Jesus have brothers and/or sisters? Can brothers mean sisters? What does the Greek say? Does the Greek mean what is says? How do we know what the Greek meant when it was written? What about the Immaculate Conception?

“It’s a really interesting question,” says the Rev’d Dan Stork Banks, “but it’s not an important one.”

“O, I disagree!” interjects the Rev’d Zoe Hemming, as we head off into the realm of theological mysteries, historic gaps and epistemic distances. The Son of God was born a mewling baby, but was he a precocious teenager? If the One who is fully God is also fully man, what manner of man was he? What sort of friend? What kind of carpenter? How did he discover his vocation?

These ‘missing years’ are interesting because the tendency in the (post-)modern era is to use the known unknowns to forge another Jesus more in our own image. But which is the real Jesus? In the plethora of christological debates, how do we discerns a false Jesus from the historical one when about 20 years of his life is missing? The apocryphal gospels of Thomas, Judas and Mary give accounts which are deemed to be flawed, but how do we know?

For future episodes, please feel free to send your questions directly to the TGI Monday team.

  • Dreadnaught

    Much a do about nothing… except for an irritating knitting habit.

    • Uncle Brian

      Chocolate cake on the first show, knitting on the second one — I’d been looking forward to seeing what new distraction they’d come up with this time. But it’s the same old knitting all over again! What a disappointment. They need to sit down with their stage manager and work out a list of props for future use.

      • The Explorer

        I think the knitting’s fine. If she carries on long enough, we’ll find out what it is. A strict egalitarian might object to a woman knitting on grounds of gender stereotyping, and insist that any knitting ought to be done by one of the men.

        • Findaráto

          I suspect she’s knitting Hipster Vic a new beard. The old one’s looking a bit ratty and if you pause the video and look carefully, you can see where it’s starting to unravel.

          I can only applaud her colour choice. It conveys a subtle and almost subliminal suggestion of inclusivity and respect for diversity, which is ironic considering it’s going to be strapped onto the chin of a conservative who wants to send all those damned wimmyn and gays straight to hell.

          I suppose the important thing is that he mustn’t be seen to be condemnatory or his chances of landing the top job will be slim. Hence the rainbow colours.

          I disapprove of such dishonesty of course, but smart execution is always praiseworthy no matter how evil the intention. So well thought out Hipster Vic! Hanging a gay pride flag from your chin will almost certainly get you where you want to go and then you’ll be able to crack down on all those sinners with exemplary evangelical zeal. It’s a cunning plan and given the dozy and gullible nature of your flock will almost certainly work.

          Perhaps LG could also knit you a rainbow-hued cosy for your future mitre. You could slip both it and the rainbow beard on when damning the gays to hell. The combined effect of conscience-searing admonition pouring from the midst of a wall of gay pride flags won’t fail to strike fear and trepidation into even the most hardened heart. They’ll be beating a path to your door begging you to set them on the way of righteousness.

          I recommend you start talking to Peter Ould as soon as possible. Toss him an archdeacon’s cap and set him and his “wife” up somewhere cosy and appropriate (St. Albans would be the most ironic choice, but from a geographical point of view Southwark might be more effective) and fund his apostolate to those who erroneously call themselves “gay”. Perhaps LG could chip in with some rainbow-hued knitwear for the Oulds too, although I’d advise her to lay in a substantial stock of yarn before embarking on such a mammoth project.

          • The Explorer

            Ingenious speculation. Or maybe she’s a future tricoteuse, getting in practice for when the Mulims are in power and the heads start to roll.

          • Findaráto

            We haven’t heard her cackle yet, and if she was a genuine tricoteuse then her cackle would go before her, striking fear and trepidation into all properly constituted breasts.

            No, I think she’s just a common garden knitter. And as such, an unwitting catspaw in Hipster Vic’s dark and ominous plot for world (or Anglican – amounts to the same thing for these myopic churchmen) domination.

            I can see the scene now: LG crying “Help me Hipster Vic! Only when I knit will my fingers not stray towards the Bourbon Creams! Give me a project! My needles are at your service.”

            “Aha,” thinks Hipster Vic. “My very own Saruman the White to corrupt using her desire to do good …”

            “Knit me an army!” he commands. “An army of rainbow-hued warriors to storm the gates of Minas Gayeth. For if my plot to cover all lands in a second darkness unto the very end of time is to succeed, that impudent citadel must fall!”

            “Right oh,” replies LG. “No biccies at teatime, mind you. I’m on a diet, you see.”

            “But of course, my pretty!” responds Hipster Vic, stifling the mwah hah hah that rises in his throat as he fingers the roll of chocolate Hobnobs concealed beneath his robe…

      • Martin

        Brian

        They did have a child’s xylophone and rattle on the table.

    • Findaráto

      Irritating knitting habits keep fingers busy that might otherwise be employed inveigling their way into biscuit tins. Didn’t you know that idle hands the devil’s work make?

      At this rate, come next winter the entire Jungle will be clad in multicoloured knitwear. Imagine how grateful they’ll be! Woolly socks winning souls for Chwist. That’s true evangelism in action.

      LG has clearly been chatting to Little Bo-Peep. Imagine the scene:

      “How can I be of practical help?” asks LG.

      “All those poor migwants have dweffully cold fingers and toes and other extwemities,” replies our Chwistian shepherdess. “They’d be ever so gwateful for muffs and tips and snoods and gloves. And why not use bwight colours to cheer them up? Poor things are ever so depwessed about that dwefful Camewon’s intwansigent wefusal to let them in!”

      “Right oh!” replied LG. “I’ll get busy knitting for Chwist, sorry, I mean Christ, then.”

      “Gweat idea LG!” opines Hipster Vic, who has been listening in as befits a bearded male spiritual director who knows that no decision can ever blessed by God unless appropriately sanctioned by a sprinkling of testosterone (even if only available in homeopathic doses). “Oh and by the way, I’ve had these labels pwinted up for you to sew into your knitted offewings…

      ‘Down? Despewate? Allah not ansewing your pwayers for peace and pwospewity? Wepent and the wessuwected Chwist will work his wonders and welocate you to Shwopshire where, with his gwace, I will work miwacles and turn your life awound!'”

      “Gweat, sorry I mean great!” enthuses LG. “Just give me some wool and my needles will clack for Christ!”

      “´Old on a sec'”, says Hipster Vic. “Just let me finish sheawing this one…”

      “Ooh isn’t he manly?” coos Peep to herself. “Is my hair blonde enough to attwact his admiwation today? Is my demeanour twaditionally feminine enough to weceive his appwoval? I pway it might be so.”

      “Bugger all this bible bashing,” thinks LG. “Who hid the Hobnobs?”

  • The Explorer

    Dating ‘the Gospel of Thomas’. Tatian wrote his ‘Diatessaron’, a synthesis of the Gospels for the Syrians, in 164 AD/CE. ‘Thomas’ quotes from Tatian. It is this not a first-hand account, and written long enough after the life of Christ to be subject to Gnostic influences.

  • The Explorer

    When a book becomes a two-hour film, much has to be left out. When a life was condensed to a scroll, selection had to be made. ‘Luke’ tells us that the child grew big and strong, and the Temple incident shows Jesus’ unusual intelligence, and his early sense of who his Father was.

  • The Explorer

    Greek expert needed. My understanding is that the Greek for brother can mean cousin, but that there is also a specific word for cousin that the Gospel writers do not use. Elucidation, please.

    • Anton

      Brother is adelphos, cousins are anepsioi. The crunch question is *exactly* what those words meant in the ancient world.

    • Uncle Brian

      Explorer, you’ll probably find that all the expertise on the subject that you could possibly hope for turns up somewhere in this 470-page book:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Relatives-Jesus-Church-Academic-Paperbacks/dp/0567082970/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459760975&sr=1-1

      It’s a book I still hope to read some day. From what people have said about it on other websites, Bauckham thinks it’s more likely that Joseph was a widower and that Jude, James and the other “brethren” were his children by his earlier marriage. That’s what was generally accepted in the early Church, according to Bauckham, until some time in the 370s or 380s when St Jerome came up with the newfangled idea that they might have been cousins instead.

      • The Explorer

        It’s not a burning issue for me, but thanks for the reference.

        It seems Joseph was dead before the Crucifixion, but whether because of age or illness or workshop accident, we are not told. First line of ‘Cherry Tree Carol’: “When Joseph was an old man, and an old man was he.” It would be unwise to rely on that however. We are not actually told in the Gospels that Joseph was old, any more than we are told that the baby Christ produced a miraculous crop of cherries, or that Mary was Queen of Galilee. The line in the Magnificat, indeed, about exalting the humble rather suggests otherwise.

      • Aran’Gar

        Interesting.

        Are there any other good books on the subject?

        I’m more interested in any myths about His family that have cropped up.

    • Rhoda

      Not a Greek expert but by using the online ancient Greek dictionary you will find that ἀδελφός (in Liddell and Scott) has the following meanings,
      1 son of the same mother:
      2 kinsman, (ib.Ge.13.8, al.; tribesman, Ex.2.11, al.)
      3 colleague, associate,
      4 term of address, used by kings,
      5 brother (as a fellow Christian),
      If you then search “cousin” you’ll find this;

      ἀνεψιαδῆ first cousin’s daughter, ἀνεψιαδοῦς first cousin’s son,

      ἀνεψιός first cousin, ἀνεψιότης relationship of cousins,

      αὐτανέψιος own cousin, δισέκγονοι second cousins,

      ἐξάδελφος cousin-german πατραδέλφεια by the father’s side.

      adelphos appears to have the primary meaning of brother, son of the same mother and not half brother on the father’s side. This would mean that the brothers of Jesus weren’t from any supposed earlier marriage of Joseph’s nor were they cousins.

  • David

    Oh dear – I fear it’s all about presenting a cuddly, bumbling fireside sort of face to the Christian faith – a weird cross between the hipster generation and the plump Vicar of Dibley, all set within an old style church building. Postmodernism meets God.
    It is definitely not my “cup of theological tea”. I am totally underwhelmed.
    But if it chimes with some people, so be it.
    However I really cannot see it setting the world alight, though I shall be happy to be wrong.
    Being an Englishman, a sort of pragmatism comes easily. So if it is of God, led by The Holy Spirit, it will succeed. If not it will fail.

  • Sigfridiii

    There is nothing new under the sun. Every generation redesigns Jesus in its own likeness and image. The current crop of bearded, hip vicars is visible in the screenshot. I am sure the lady minister would like to wear one as well, perhaps one of those left over from Life of Brian.

  • Martin

    So what is it of the childhood of Jesus that we need to know?

    That his birth was miraculous:
    That is recorded in the canonical Gospels.

    That He was aware of His own nature and mission:
    That is recorded in the canonical Gospels.

    That He carried out all the duties of a child:
    He was obedient:
    That is recorded in the canonical Gospels.

    He ensured His mother was taken care of:
    That is recorded in the canonical Gospels.

    No one could accuse Him of a failure towards his parents:
    No one could accuse Him of any sin.

    So what is missing that we need to know of His childhood?

    Why do they debate such stupid questions? How about addressing something a bit deeper, like the hypostatic union, or the nature of the Trinity or even how we should view the Bible. Do you think they’d do that if I asked?

    • The Explorer

      Send them an email and see. Whatever the question is, the timescale only allows for skimming the surface; so the deeper the issue, the less likelihood of resolving it within the time slot.

    • Anton

      I hope not; Greek-philosophical waffle about things that cannot be known if we are not told them (which we are not). Let it be enough that Christ is both wholly God and wholly (unfallen) man, and that He, the Creator and the Holy spirit, are undivided and divine and that nothing else is. If you go beyond that you are going beyond what can reliably be inferred from the Bible and there is likely to be (and has been) schism about things that cannot be known.

      • Martin

        Anton

        What in what I suggested is “Greek-philosophical waffle”? I’d suggest they are all essential things for the man-in-the-pew to understand and can be known.

        • Anton

          I’m attacking the pernicious effects of Greek philosophy in the church, not you! But, as a specific example: attempts to understand how Christ is totally God and totally man are futile, because we first need to know what unfallen man is and what God is, and fallen man learns those things from Christ himself. The attempt to understand his nature therefore involves circular logic. No doubt that is why St Paul, who is the New Testament’s theologian, simply took Christ as his starting point.

          • CliveM

            Agreed arguing over the unknowable has caused massive damage to the Church and may indirectly have aided the rise of Islam.

          • Martin

            Clive

            What is unknowable about my suggested subjects? Indeed, they are matters we need to know in order to challenge the Muslim.

          • Martin

            Anton

            I don’t see how understanding that Christ is totally man and totally God is futile. Indeed, we need to be certain of our ground there in order to answer the Muslim or the Atheist. Paul taught such things in His letters so we should seek to understand them.

          • Anton

            Understanding THAT Christ is totally man and totally God is vital. Understanding HOW is futile. That’s always been my position, and apologies if that wasn’t clear.

          • Martin

            Anton

            I wasn’t addressing the how.

          • Anton

            Grand! But most people who talk about “hypostatic union” are, from the early church councils onwards.

    • carl jacobs

      Don’t despise the questions that others may ask. They may not be important to you. That doesn’t make them unimportant.

      • Martin

        Carl

        I’m afraid the problem with the question is that it verges on the superstitious. Indeed it is something that should be handled at a very basic level in the education of a Christian, and sadly isn’t.

    • Rev. Dan Stork Banks

      Hi Martin,

      thanks for the question about the Hypostatic Union. We did get the e mail but it was from a no-reply account so I couldn’t get back to you directly.

      It is a good question but I am not entirely sure that it is the kind of question that will get the average person in the pew watching. It sounds a bit like an undergraduate essay. If you can re-phrase it to something that the average busy mum in the pew can find helpful then we might well have a go at discussing it. For me personally however, I very much take Martin Luther’s view that Jesus is one substance, indivisible, and therefore he is omnipresent in both his humanity and divinity indivisibly. I am not sure what the others on the team think.

      I know that the show is not everything that you and some other commentors on the blog would like it to be and I am sorry for that. We are very much work in progress and are trying to scratch the spirtual itch of the average person. People with much deeper theological thinking will not find it as helpful, I get that, – although I definitly believe we have something for everyone. I do read all of the comments on His Grace’s blog and take them on board – even though some interpretations of what we are trying to do are way off! We really are not trying to be trendy, nor do we try to represent some forced kind of church diversity. Had we been designed by the Bishop or Church House we would be more manufactured like a boy band, but instead we really are just a bunch of friends who decided to start a blog one day whilst having coffee around my kitchen table. We are who we are and people can take us or leave us. Here is our Missin Statement:

      TGI Monday seeks to be a safe place for anybody to ask questions on Christian faith and spirituality wherever they are in their faith journey, from people who are curious about Christianity through to those with many years in the pew. We offer perspectives from across the Anglican tradition from Evangelical to Catholic, Conservative to Liberal, because we believe that the church is a family and we all have something important to learn and to share. Using the latest social media technology, we want to engage your honest questions with our honest reflections in order to deepen faith and open further discussion. We are not about church politics or arguments, but life following Jesus.

      Thanks for the question…

      Hipster Vic!

  • Anton

    If a talented and Christian filmmaker were to make a film about those years between Jesus’ barmitzvah and the start of his public ministry, it could be fascinating. I recall googling years ago and finding that at least one film had been made about the “silent years”, but I don’t know how consistent with the Bible it is. Imagine a scene with a teenage girl where there is mutual attraction, yet Jesus gently discourages the relationship because somehow he knows it is incompatible with his mission.

    But I’ll say one thing: Did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England’s pastures green? NO!

    • carl jacobs

      Such a film would scare me because it would certainly be completely wrong. It would not present a sinless Jesus but a vision of what man thinks sinless Jesus would be like. Those are very different things. It is extremely dangerous to put words in His mouth because of who He is.

    • “Imagine a scene with a teenage girl where there is mutual attraction…”

      In Jesus’ time and culture, girls were probably married off very young between 12-14 years of age, and there was strict segregation of sexes from an early age. If there was any teenage attraction – the pair would never be free to openly express their feelings even to each other.

      • Anton

        So it is said. In that culture there was no question of a boy and girl “going on a date”, but it is impossible for people not to bump into each other at the well, at market, at property boundaries and so on. Nevertheless, if you prefer, imagine instead the scenes in which Jesus dissuades his parents from seeking a bride for him, while still making clear that he is heterosexual. Or imagine the tension in the family given that, as John says, his own (half-)brothers did not believe in him – yet Mary knew the truth from before his birth.

        • I am sure Jesus’ choice to be single would have caused some surprise in his culture. And yet, when you read the NT, you find that there were lots of single people even then – John the Baptist, Paul, Timothy, Philip’s daughters. The Essenes practised celibacy.

          • Anton

            Yet John B was regarded (wrongly; see Matt 11:11) as a weirdo, and likewise the Essenes (possibly rightly – Luke 16:8 about the people of the light is perhaps a reference to them). But my main interest in this discussion is drama – imagining scenes which are gripping human drama yet which portray Jesus reverently and consistently with scripture.

  • carl jacobs

    The issue of “brothers” vs “cousins” is more important than they allowed because it only comes up to justify the RC view of a sexless marriage between Joseph and Mary. They were a bit too ecumenical on that point. And though we don’t know much about Joseph we do know that he wasn’t be around by the time of Jesus’ ministry. This makes sense theologically since the greater relationship of Jesus to the Father had to take center stage.

    One other thing. It is natural to wonder what Jesus was like as a child, and to wonder about how he was parented. But it is extremely problematic to impose our understandings of childhood upon Him because he had no sin nature. He was not like other children. The more interesting question is “How did Jesus react to the mistakes and limited visions and sinful behaviors of his parents as he was growing up?” But that is a question for which there is no answer and no possibility of an answer.

    In general, I thought they handled the question pretty well.

    • Anton

      There is an answer to your question and we shall know it, but not in this life.

    • The Explorer

      They did handle the question pretty well. The fact that Findarato hasn’t commented yet probably bears that out.

      • carl jacobs

        Oh, why tempt fate? Besides. The only prerequisite for urination is drinking. I presume he will show up loaded for bear and prepared to spray his wisdom for all to see.

        • magnolia

          Trouble is his contributions are very long, predictable, mean-minded, and boring. I wish someone would edit them down to the usual overladen adjectives, overblown verbs, and a full stop.

          He has taken making personal comments about appearance and speaking voices to a massive extreme, whilst conveniently neither audible nor visible himself. He may think that he is immune to the charge of acting ignobly on that point; I don’t.

          • CliveM

            If they were edited, what could possibly be left in?

          • Pubcrawler

            What they’re worth.

          • CliveM

            You mean nothing.

          • Pubcrawler

            Ronan Keating knows…

          • CliveM

            Now you have completely lost me!

            Will google and see if I can work it out.

          • Findaráto

            Yada, yada, yada…

            Not much to say about this week’s installment actually.

            Everyone was true to type. DN was being all mumsy and Davina McCall-ish. LG was knitting and not eating biscuits. WG was being oafishly heterosexual: “Phwoar! Da Vinci Code French actress! Phwoar!” OK, we get it! You’re a vicar but you’re not gay. It has been known to happen before, you know. Not recently, granted … but there was a chap in the nineteenth century who was almost certainly straight. Somewhere called Barchester, I believe…

            And then there was Hipster Vic. Ah, Hipster Vic! Ratcheting his campaign for episcopal glory up a notch by spending a whole 2 seconds talking about the needs of Anglo-Catholics. Must be seen to be a fedewating influence, mustn’t we, old boy? No matter how wabidly anti-Woman (as in Wome, capital of the Wepublic of Italy rather than the spare wib vawiety) you may be. It wouldn’t do to come over all evangelical and set the smells and bells bwigade against you, now would it?

            No, Hipster Vic’s Church will be bwoad. The path to pwomotion will be nawwow and decidedly Pwotestant, but all will be welcome. As long as they wepent.

            “What, Findawáto? You’re not aware you have anything you need to wepent of? Well, wepent anyway! Wepent wepeatedly! Wepent until you wun out of the will to wesist! Only then will you be able to wevel wighteously in the Wedeemer’s wesuwwection.”

            Zzzzzzzzzz…

          • CliveM

            Right have googled, found out he sang a song called ‘When you say nothing at all ‘ checked the lyrics and now I’m completely confused!

            Is their something you want to confess?

          • Pubcrawler

            You’re over-thinking this.

          • CliveM

            Probably!

        • CliveM

          I think Explorer owes us an apology!

          • The Explorer

            Perhaps I should have said that I wish Findarato would contribute: then he wouldn’t, just to spite me. The danger would be that he would disbelieve me (since he disbelieves everything I say on principle), or that the opportunity to say something uncharitable about the women would override even the desire to spite me.

          • CliveM

            I don’t think he finds it possible not to say something snide.

            It’s like breathing for him.

    • Martin

      Carl

      I would suggest that the answer to “How did Jesus react to the mistakes and limited visions and sinful behaviors of his parents as he was growing up?” is answered:

      And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
      (Luke 2:51 [ESV])

    • IanCad

      “—he had no sin nature.” Hmmm–

      “–God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin–” (Romans 8:3)

      “– God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Galatians 4:4)

      • Anton

        His human side was like Adam before rather than after Genesis 3; that’s all that’s meant.

        • IanCad

          Then we also must be born in that state.
          Original Sin is looming up!

          • Anton

            Why must we?

          • IanCad

            “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15}

          • Anton

            Far be it from me to contradict scripture! I am simply saying that such passages don’t imply your assertion “THEN we must be born in that state”. Please show your joining of the dots.

          • IanCad

            Anton, As Christ was born in the likeness of us, it would follow that we are born in the likeness of Him when he came to earth.
            Therefore when you stated that Christ had the nature of the pre-fallen Adam, then to be in harmony with scripture we would have to be born as He was.

          • Anton

            What is it to be human? It is to be in the image of God. The image has been marred. In Jesus it wasn’t. Surely that simple?

          • IanCad

            I’m not sure if we are disagreeing on anything or not.
            The rain has stopped and the weather is set fair for the rest of the afternoon, so don’t take it for rudeness if I don’t respond if this thread continues. Two hours a day is better than nothing.

          • Anton

            Fine (like the weather!)

    • CliveM

      He was also fully human. I think that trying to answer the question what was he like, all to often results in people projecting their own ideas and prejudices. I think the problem is that people will tend to describe the Jesus they would like, not the Jesus that was.

      It’s done enough with the Jesus of the Gospels.

    • “the RC view of a sexless marriage between Joseph and Mary.”

      Hardly just a Roman Catholic view. It’s what the universal Church believed for over 1500 years.

      • Martin

        HJ

        No it isn’t. There’s clearly no biblical basis for it.

        • Er, yes it is.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Then provide it. Trouble is, the church of Rome believes in itself rather than the Bible.

          • All covered above.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Which demonstrates my point.

    • pobjoy

      he had no sin nature

      But that was all to be proved; and Jesus became human in order to demonstrate it. Jesus was as capable of sinning as anyone else, because he was human. Through his complete failure to sin, he proved that he was a ‘lamb’ whose perfect innocence could be imputed to those who believed in him, as Abram believed, and was justified, before God, before he became Abraham

  • sarky

    I like the ‘infancy gospel of Thomas 4:1’, where a kid bumps into jesus, so he kills him.

    • The Explorer

      So that’s the kind of God you could believe in? Quick tempered and violent? I thought you complained about the Old Testament being like that? If God would kill someone just for bumping into Him, why the beef about the Flood?

      • sarky

        I was being ‘sarky’ !!!

        Although it does make sense that the son of a god who unleashed the flood could do that.

    • len

      Unbelievable…. This would make Jesus acceptable to you?

      • sarky

        See my reply to the Explorer.

        However, it would make him a bit more interesting.

  • len

    Mary had four other sons after giving birth to Jesus, Joseph, James, Jude, and Simon. These were Jesus`s half brothers because Joseph wasn`t Jesus father.(Matt. 12:46; 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19).
    Jesus had no sin nature because He was born of the Holy Spirit We have enough essential facts about Jesus through scripture all else is speculation….

  • Pointless speculation. The “hidden life” of Our Lord most probably consisted of 18 years being trained as a carpenter and working alongside Joseph in Nazareth. Tales of travels to Britain and India are just that – tales. As for brothers and sisters, he had none. The notion that He did, only became prevalent at the Reformation to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.

    • Anton

      Prove your assertion that he had no brothers or sisters.

      • You prove He did.

        • Anton

          You’re the one making the claim here, not me. Apparently you can’t prove it?

          • “Apparently you can’t prove it?”

            Now you are sounding like Linus !

            Jack isn’t making this “claim” himself. It’s what the universal Church believed for over 1500 years so it’s hardly his assertion. The idea that Jesus had brothers was unheard of in the early church.

            Why start a pointless debate where we bandy around the meaning of the word adelphos?

          • carl jacobs

            It’s not about the meaning of the word adelphos. It’s about the nature of marriage, an aesthetic view of sex in Rome, and (mostly) about Roman dogma surrounding Mary. You want to avoid questions like “What would it mean for Mary to have other children if she was sinless?” Since (you know) she had to be sinless to bring forth the Messiah.

            That last Roman conclusion is the very essence of pointless speculation.

          • Jack understands Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli also honoured the perpetual virginity of Mary and accepted it as true and being consistent with Scripture.

          • Ivan M

            Peoples who live in traditional societies by which I mean those that have arranged marriages have no problem accepting that Mary was ever virgin. My unmarried sisters now past fifty have remained virgins with no regrets except not having children.

          • carl jacobs

            Except Joseph and Mary were married. Marriage presumes a sexual relationship. And the clause in Matthew 1:25 seems definitive to me, RC arm waves notwithstanding.

            So why shouldn’t we presume a sexual relationship? Well, because we have these Marian dogmas, and we are speculating backwards from them. Note the verb – “speculating.”. But the dogmas themselves are mere fancies of the imagination. There is no Scriptural substantiation for any of them. So we begin with dogmas of man-made tradition and impose those dogmas on Scripture.

            Behold Roman exegesis.

          • Ivan M

            You can imagine them having sex. I can imagine them not having sex. What is the problem?

          • Anton

            Fine, let’s go into your imagining them not having sex. Same bed? Different beds, same bedroom? Different bedrooms? Can’t have a married couple being tempted to have sex, can we?

          • Ivan M

            Look I know people who don’t have sex. Its not a big deal.

          • Anton

            So do I. But do you know people who get engaged intending to have a normal marital life and then deciding not to have sex? And please answer me this: why shouldn’t they?

          • Ivan M

            St Joseph and Mary did not have a normal marriage. They were exceptional since both knew that Jesus was the Messiah.

          • carl jacobs

            And this means they didn’t have sex because ….

          • Findaráto

            Because sex is dirty.

            Remember, you’re talking to Catholics.

          • As Jack stated to you over two hours ago:

            The marriage between Joseph and Mary was hardly a standard marriage, now was it? Why should the usual rules of sex apply? A young girl set aside from eternity to bear God’s son and carry the Messiah in her womb. Not wishing to be crude here, would you have sexual union with Our Blessed Lady knowing this? Think about it.

            Consider Jewish beliefs about being in the physical presence of God and worthiness to be on Holy ground.

          • Ivan M

            They did. No they didn’t. They did. No they didn’t . & etc

          • No but then Jack doesn’t any who have been made miraculously pregnant or where both been visited by an Angel of the Lord. Do you?

          • Anton

            Don’t you? You pray to (sorry, “through”) her often enough…

          • Yes and Jack also prays to Saint Joseph too. They are a part of the Communion of Saints – the Church triumphant. He knows of no other couple who have had the experiences of Joseph and Mary.

          • Why would they be “tempted”?

          • Anton

            Because they’re normal.

          • Meaning?

          • Anton

            The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband… Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you… – from 1 Corinthians 7.

          • Joseph and Mary’s marriage was hardly conventional. They had sexual relations to avoid lust and Satanic temptation? Are you being serious? Is sex mandatory in all marriages? A couple cannot by mutual agreement abstain from a sex life for more than a limited time? Now who’s being legalistic?

          • Anton

            Of course not. Normal happy couples – and they were – have sex to express their love for each other. Paul in fact suggests it is a subtle form of legalism, ie bondage to rules, not to.

          • And if their love is as a brother and sister in Christ and not carnal or physical? Where does Paul suggest it is legalism for them not to have sex?

          • Anton

            It is bondage to rules, ie “we must not have sex”, when they married in order to express their love for each other in that way, which between husband and wife is “very good”.

            Really, though, the onus is on anybody asserting the extraordinary view that they didn’t have sex to say why not, from their point of view. No Catholic I know has managed this. There is abundant pious waffle about how they were changed by being mother and stepfather to Christ, but no mention of why this change supposedly made them different in their sex life. Like any other married Jewish couple they worked their land, they observed the Sabbath, they ate two or three meals per day… but at night they supposedly didn’t have sex. Please tell me which of these possibilities do you think most likely, and why:

            1. They behaved at night like any healthy married couple that loved each other;

            2. They shared a bed naked and lay in each other’s arms but did not have sex;

            3. They shared a bed, naked, but made sure they didn’t touch each other;

            4. They slept in different beds in the same room;

            5. They slept in different rooms.

            I do not intend to spare Catholics the embarrassment of facing the consequences of their beliefs. My answer is (1), of course, about which there is nothing embarrassing and regarding which I have no wish to go into detail.

          • Why speculate?
            Is sex an absolute necessity in life? The only way to be in an intimate union with another person? They had the Messiah under their roof, why couldn’t their love be perfect agape and spiritual, rather than erotic and carnal in nature?

            And why should they be naked in bed together? One can wear night clothes in a marriage.

          • The marriage between Joseph and Mary was hardly a standard marriage, now was it? Why should the usual rules of sex apply? A young girl set aside from eternity to bear God’s son and carry the Messiah in her womb. Not wishing to be crude here, would you have sexual union with Our Blessed Lady knowing this? Think about it.

            As for Matthew 1:25, you are reading your own bias into this verse. Why would Matthew say any more than he has about this? And the doctrines of the Church follow Apostolic tradition and the beliefs of the early Church – not the other way around.

          • Ivan M

            St Joseph wasn’t the standard issue husband either. When he found that Mary was with child, he didn’t go into the obligatory rage and swearing phase and drag Her to the public square. But like a true gentleman wanted to spare her embarrassment. The Angel assured him that the Child was from God. He then continued with his marriage knowing that there was something supernatural going on. He took on the task of looking after Mary and Jesus in a spirit of selfless sacrifice. The Evangelists obviously did not have to hint further at their conjugal relationship since it is to be expected that St Joseph would have due regard for the special status of the Holy Virgin.

          • Anton

            “it is to be expected”

            By whom? People in a Greek culture, perhaps, but not in a Hebraic one.

          • We’re talking about a unique event here and a unique young woman. A woman set aside by God to be miraculously impregnated by Him and to carry the Messiah in her womb. This is known to Mary and to Joseph – not the whole of Nazareth. Put yourself in Joseph’s situation.

          • Anton

            “What an honour, that God himself should seek the exclusivity of my wife’s womb for nine months.”

          • … and that God incarnate had been resident there.

          • Anton

            Happy to agree with that!

          • Then consider a devout Jew’s understanding of the implications of this.

          • Anton

            In your own words, Jack, God incarnate HAD BEEN there. I’ve been to the Sea of Galilee and He had been there, too; but he wasn’t there incarnate when I was there and it was just a stretch of water. Consider the implications of that…

          • You see no difference between the two? Really?

          • Anton

            A lake is not a womb, but I regard the analogy as valid, or I wouldn’t have made it.

          • A sea is publically available for a wide range of uses. A woman’s body is not. The analogy is not valid.

          • Anton

            The point of the analogy is of course that God incarnate isn’t there any more. Do you want to build an altar inside Mary’s womb, as it were?

          • True, but surely you can see the implication of Mary having been selected as the mother of Jesus, God incarnate, and her body being the means of Him becoming the God-man?

          • Anton

            I’m not being deliberately obtuse… tell me.

          • Think about it yourself.

          • Ivan M

            St Paul? St John? Not Hebraic I guess. Better to marry than to burn as St Paul wrote, but surely a man like St Joseph was above these things as his deeds show.

          • Anton

            I have suggested to Jack that his attitude might be: “What an honour, that God himself should seek the exclusivity of my wife’s womb for nine months.” I do no more than suggest it; whereas what you are doing is indulging in speculation without saying so.

          • Rhoda

            Why guess? St Paul says of himself in Philippians 3:5
            “… circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;”
            St John , one of the disciples , a fisherman from Galilee unlikely to be over familiar with the Greek world view.

          • Anton

            It was the ordeal in Numbers 5 that Joseph was planning to spare Mary; an act of mercy for which the gospels commend him.

          • IanCad

            It usually ends up that way. Nothing mutual about it

          • Anton

            You made an assertion; I didn’t. I am asking you to back it up. Feel free to use any argument, whether of your own or of your church. So far you have twice failed to do so upon request. Why is that; are you unable to?

          • Ivan M

            He has already told you if you know how to read. That both the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches hold that She was ever virgin. Along with Luther and Calvin. You don’t accept the authority of the above being a prophet in your mind. I don’t see why anyone has to oblige your petulance.

          • Anton

            If you don’t wish to enter this discussion, you don’t have to. I am simply asking one man to prove an assertion he made. If the churches or men you mention provide a decent proof that Jesus had no brothers or sisters, why don’t you reproduce it here?

          • Ivan M

            You are not accepting his reasons. So what is he supposed to? Comply with your narrow remit? Otherwise what?

          • Anton

            He hasn’t yet given any reasons. And I don’t mean reasons I consider to be good, I mean any whatsoever. Neither have you – but feel free.

          • Ivan M

            Feel free to continue missing the point.

          • Anton

            Whose point?

          • Martin

            Ivan

            On what basis would any of them be a prophet?

          • Ivan M

            Martin on what basis can your doctor be a prophet?

          • Martin

            Ivan

            He isn’t.

          • Merchantman

            When Doctrine disputes the word, the doctrine is on shaky ground. To prevent error and heresy the Gospels and Epistles were written as a regulator.

          • So where exactly does the New Testament dispute the Marian doctrines?

          • Merchantman

            By omission of this doctorine. The NT omits discussing the beliefs of many other religions and their creeds.
            Why not stick to the known knowns anything else is speculation.

          • You’re asserting (indirectly) the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is wrong – along with Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.
            You prove this.

          • carl jacobs

            Heh. Shouldn’t you respond to Anton first? Heh. Heh.

            That was humorous.

          • Anton

            I am making no assertion here whatsoever. You are. It will be transparently obvious to the unbiased reader that you are doing your utmost to divert the discussion from my request that you prove your assertion that Jesus had no brothers or sisters. Anybody might be forgiven for thinking you couldn’t, you know.

          • Jack freely admits he cannot “prove” Mary remained ever virgin and that her marriage to Joseph remained sex free and therefore He had no brothers or sisters born of Mary.
            Tell Jack, what is your standard of “proof”? Not Scripture alone? So, prove from Scripture that it teaches the truth of Scripture alone.

            Mary’s perpetual virginity is a matter of belief held since the very early Church and held universally for over 1500 years.

          • Ivan M

            Come on what is 1500 or 2000 years of belief compared to an autodidact prophet?

          • Anton

            Not so; there is a multigenerational gap between the gospels and the earliest assertion of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Others here are dealing with what scripture says; no only can you not prove your assertion from scripture, you can’t prove it from tradition once you look at the origins of those traditions.

            Thank you for conceding that you cannot prove your assertion.

            I have responded to you regarding sola scriptura elsewhere on this thread.

          • That wasn’t a response about Scripture alone. It was an assertion. Prove it from scripture – or from tradition.

          • Anton

            This is my reply: When God speaks, he has unique authority. do you agree? Scripture represents his word collected for all of his people at each time; do you agree?

            If Yes and Yes then there is no authority to match scripture, is there?

          • That alone does not result in the conclusion that Scripture alone is the exclusive source of all truth – separated from the teaching authority of the Apostles and the Church.

          • Anton

            Scripture is not the exclusive source of all truth and no protestant has ever said it is. It doesn’t say what Jesus did in those missing 18 years, to come full circle.

          • Ivan M

            This Scripture that you have apparently such a reverence for who put them together? There was only one Church at that time to see what goes in the canon and what stays out. The belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity predates Constantine. So it wasn’t an infamous Popish plot. The authority of the Universal Catholic Church that undergirds canonical Scripture sustains the dogma of Mary’s virginity.

          • Anton

            When God speaks, it is up to man to recognise the fact. The recognisers, ie the church, do not gain any authority by means of their recognition, do they?

          • Ivan M

            Right. Just about anybody could have put the Bible together and we will all be believing it.

          • Anton

            When you respond without twisting my words to mean what they never said nor implied, I’ll reply.

          • Ivan M

            It would help matters if you do not make simple errors of logic and avoid anachronisms.

          • Anton

            Do tell me where.

          • Eh? How can the people recognise it is God speaking without the Church discerning this? Where did the Church get the prior authority to act in this role?

          • Anton

            You are SO hung up on the question of authority. The NT is about grace, not law. A set of believers reach consensus that God is speaking. Try to stop thinking in subcommittees and committees.

          • “A set of believers reach consensus that God is speaking.

            Yep, that’s worked down through the history of the Christian Church. And when one group reach a consensus different to another group, that’s the Holy Spirit at work?

            To name a few of the early Church heresies:
            Adoptionism
            Arianism
            Docetism
            Monothelitism
            Nestorianism
            Manichaeism
            Antinomianism
            Donatism
            Marcionism
            Montanism
            Pelagianism
            Semipelagianism

            Where does Jesus or the authors of the New Testament dismiss the authority of the Church or the universality of Truth?

          • Anton

            You have missed what I am saying about law and grace.

          • No, Jack hasn’t. Scripture itself teaches that grace is not evenly distributed throughout the Body of Christ and that individuals will be deceived by Satan and false prophets. Hence Apostolic authority, exercised under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

          • Anton

            Again, to you it’s all about authority. When you receive communion, are you thinking about authority? When you sing hymns in order to worship Christ, are you thinking about authority? When you say the Lords’s Prayer, are you thinking about authority?

          • The answers are: No; No; and No. However, when it comes to doctrines on faith and morals, then Jack wants to be certain he understands Truth. Why not be a Mormon or a Scientologist? Or a Unitarian? Or, come to that, a Protestant?

          • Anton

            At last (ie, in your last sentence) you are asking the right question…

          • God forbid ….

          • *sigh*

            The first historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the “Protoevangelium of James”, which was written less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many.

            According to the patristics scholar, Johannes Quasten: “The principal aim of the whole writing is to prove the perpetual and inviolate virginity of Mary before, in, and after the birth of Christ”

          • Anton

            I don’t doubt that that is its aim. Too bad that its author makes howlers about Jewish tradition and isn’t the James that all Christians would take him to be. We have no 2nd century copy of it and the earliest mention of it is from the 3rd century. And on this you build a tradition for which you assert equal authority to scripture?

          • No, this is simply evidence that the perpetual virginity of Mary predates your asserted multi-generational invention. And its not about equal authority to scripture – it’s about Apostolic tradition and not everything being openly revealed in scripture.

            That it was written around AD. 120 demonstrates the belief was around much earlier in the Church. One doubts those who knew Mary would discuss her and Joseph’s sex life. There would be cultural prohibitions about this.

            Where is Mary’s perpetual virginity disproved in scripture?

          • Anton

            Given the absence of any statement in scripture that Mary and Joseph did have sex and the absence of any statement that they did not, the inference from what is written there is as strong as it can be that they procreated brothers and sisters of Jesus.

          • Jack would say the inference is the reverse – that Joseph and Mary did not have children.

            The word adelphos, used in scripture, does not just mean blood brothers born of the same parents. It was also used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or stepbrother. The word also described other relationships, like cousins and nephews. In Hebrew and Aramaic, no special word existed for cousin, nephew, or step-brother. The Greek word adelphos was used to capture all of these meanings.

            Other Gospel passages clarify the relationships to Jesus. James and Joses were the sons of Mary of Clophas (Mk 15:40). Judas was the son of James (not either of the Apostles) (Lk 6:16). James the Lesser was the son of Alphaeus (Lk 6:15). James the Greater and John were the sons of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Mt 20:20).

            After the birth of our Lord, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having other children. Never does it refer to the “sons of Mary” or “a son of Mary,” but only the son of Mary. This point is corroborated at the crucifixion scene. Before He dies, our Lord says to Mary, “Woman, there is your son,” and then to St. John, who is definitely not a blood brother, “There is your mother.” According to Jewish law, the oldest son had the responsibility of caring for the widowed mother, and that responsibility would pass to the next oldest if anything happened to the first-born son. By this time, St. Joseph has died. Since Jesus, the first born, had no “blood brother,” He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple.

            This whole confusion is not new. About 380, Helvidius suggested that the “brethren” were the children born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus. St. Jerome declared this as a “novel, wicked, and daring affront to the faith of the whole world.” St. Jerome used both Scripture and the Fathers, like Saints Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus and Justin Martyr to refute Helvidius. It wasn’t until the First Lateran Council in 649 that the Church definitively declared that Mary was “ever virgin and immaculate.” It was therefore a widely accepted belief before this, stretching back to within 60 years of the end of Mary’s earthly life.

          • Anton

            Mary’s perpetual virginity is against the normal inference from Matthew’s words about Mary in verses 1:18 and 1:25, that Joseph “had no [carnal] knowledge of her until she bore him a son” – which although stating nothing about what happened afterwards is not likely to be how Matthew would have written if the couple had remained celibate. If you hear that a woman broke her leg days before her wedding, and that she and her husband had no union until the plaster cast was removed, what do you think they did next? The Magisterium appears to regard it as scandalous that a married couple had sex, whereas Paul takes the view that it is mistaken for them not to (1 Cor 7:5). Abundant children are viewed throughout the Old Testament as a blessing, and Mary was blessed (Luke 1:48). The gospels refer to Jesus’ adelphoi and adelphai – ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’ which in John 2:12 (‘his brothers and disciples’) & 7:5 (‘even his brothers did not believe in him’) & Matt 12:47 (“your mother and brothers are outside” – “who are my brothers; these [disciples] are”) cannot mean in the spiritual sense. Catholics take these references to refer to cousins of Jesus (although there is a Greek word for that, anepsioi), or they postulate that Joseph was a widower with children from an earlier marriage (a claim for which there is no evidence in the Bible or any other contemporary source ). The words adelphoi and adelphai commonly imply the same mother since delphys means ‘womb,’ and seven of the ten references to ‘his brothers’ in the gospels and Acts are in immediate connection to Mary. The exceptions are all in the passage John 7:2-10, which I’ve already explained cannot refer to spiritual brothers. (In the ‘Septuagint’ translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek from Christ’s era, adelphos may mean ‘kinsman’ where it cannot imply the same mother, eg uncle/nephew relations at Genesis 13:8, 14:14,16 and 29:12,15, first cousins in 1 Chr 23:22; but there is always an implication of closeness, of a bond due to the familial relation. That cannot be so at John 7:5, for instance.) This is as strong as the evidence can be that Mary had other children, given that there is no explicit statement which would have prevented the Catholic view ever arising.

            What is sex is for? Catholicism’s answer for centuries was: for procreation only, and even then it should not be enjoyed. This depressing view is explicit in, for example, the Pastoral Rule (bk. 3 ch. 27) of Pope Gregory ‘the Great,’ 14 centuries ago, the first monk to be pope. It grew from several sources: the influence of Greek ascetism; Augustine of Hippo, who upon repenting 1600 years ago became disgusted at his own lust; and from conjecture about how sin passes from one generation to the next. These all encouraged selective reading of the scriptures praising celibacy and likely underlie Mary’s alleged perpetual virginity. In fact the key text is Genesis 2:24: “A man will bond with his wife and they become one flesh.” Human sex is for bonding as well as reproduction. That is why God arranged that women remain sexually receptive when infertile.

            The other reason for this strange doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is that it assigns yet another of Jesus’ special attributes, which together single him out as divine, to Mary.

          • Martin

            They’re all wrong with respect to Baptism so where the great problem in this?

      • Findaráto

        Of course Jesus didn’t have any brothers or sisters! Mainly because he didn’t exist, but on the offchance that he did, have you ever seen a depiction of the Holy Family by Poussin?

        You have the baby Jesus looking like he’s well on the road to adult obesity. You have a porcelaine Mary looking like a drugged-up Dresden shepherdess. And you have Joseph, looking heavenwards with a pained expression of “What price a beard, eh?” on his face.

        There he is, poor man, saddled with a religious madwoman and her ill-gotten brat. Now that’s real martyrdom for you!

        Never did a gay man pay a higher price to avoid being stoned! And ypu think he then went and got children on his Froot Loop of a wife?

        I doubt they could even be in the same room together, let alone the same bed.

        • The Explorer

          An interesting case of reading your own proclivities into a picture.

        • Anton

          Poussin was working from an ancient photograph?

        • The Explorer

          Poussin lived quite a while while after the time of Christ. You know that anything not eye witness isn’t reliable. You keep telling us so.

          • Findaráto

            How do you know he wasn’t inspired by the Holy Spirit? He certainly had Church patronage, so his interpretations clearly benefit from papal infallibility.

            And even if you reject those explanations, Occam’s razor tells us what the most probable origin of the Holy Family was. Teenage virgin ravished by Roman legionnaire loses her mind to religious mania and her family, not knowing what else to do with her, palms her off on gay man looking for camouflage. Poussin figured it out. Why can’t you?

          • The Explorer

            You don’t believe in the Holy Spirit, and neither of us believes in Papal infallibility, so that first paragraph is rather hypothetical.

            Celsus’ reasoning ran thus: Christ could not have been the result of a virgin birth. The father was obviously not Joseph. He thus invented the Roman Panthera to whom you are referring. But Celsus lived after the time of Christ, so by your criteria we need not take him seriously.

            Sceptics less rigorous than yourself have liked Celsus’ invention, and some have even been persuaded by it, but believers have been satisfied with the biblical account. Poussin appears to have been a believer.

            Even Celsus, as far as I know, didn’t propose that Joseph was gay. There is no reason to suppose that Poussin thought so either. Unless you can provide me with evidence to the contrary, yours would seem to be the case of a gay man trying to impose his view on the rest of the world and citing non-existent allies in the process.

          • Findaráto

            Did I make any claims about Poussin’s sexuality? No, I did not.

            He clearly had opinions about Joseph’s role in the biblical legend however. And considering the resigned and suffering look he always paints onto the poor man’s face, it is perfectly legitimate to speculate about why Joseph is systematically portrayed as an unwilling participant in the Holy Family. Is this family group what it’s supposed to be and Joseph is just pissed off about the eternal celibacy imposed on him by his marriage to an untouchable woman? Or did he choose her specifically because he needed a wife to pass as “normal” in a murderous patriarchal society that killed men who preferred the company of other men?

            In the absence of evidence to the contrary, either option is possible. Or perhaps there’s some other explanation. But the hypothesis that Poussin thought Joseph was gay is at least plausible. Certainly at least as plausible as any other explanation.

          • The Explorer

            Poussin for me is a red herring in any case. As a Protestant, I believe that Joseph had intercourse with Mary after Jesus was born: resulting in four sons and an unspecified number of daughters. The eternal celibacy to which you refer is, for me, an erroneous non-issue.

          • Findaráto

            So why does he always look so exasperated then?

            No, my explanation is much better. Joseph is clearly an unwilling bit player in his wife’s religious delusions in these paintings. Most husbands of the time would probably have slapped her about a bit until she came to her senses, but Joseph didn’t have that option. No, he had to mollify her or she might have betrayed his secret to the religious police and then where would he be?

            So there he is, trapped in a loveless marriage to a delusional single mother. Saddled with a madwoman and the child she’s raising to believe in his own divinity. And risking a violent death every time he looks for love and solace elsewhere.

            He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. No wonder he looks so pissed off.

          • The Explorer

            One theory about Joseph’s pose in ‘The Holy Family on the a Steps’ is that Joseph represents the Law. That would make anyone look glum. I don’t know enough about Poussin to say and neither do I care. I’m more concerned bout what it says in the New Testament.

          • Findaráto

            C.S. Lewis understood that fairytales have a greater impact on children when illustrated, but if you’re happy with the text alone then who am I to object? Every class has its earnest and pedantic swot.

            Millions of Catholics need visual support however. And many Anglicans apparently feel the same. Who’s to say that the Holy Ghost, if it exists, doesn’t inspire artists to give a true rendering of th Holy Family? If so, then Joseph’s constant expression of resigned yet exasperated hopelessness and Mary’s vacant stare may be nearer the truth than you realise.

          • The Explorer

            I don’t have a problem with a true rendering of the Holy Family, but your explanations don’t fit the bill for me.

            1. Joseph was happy to take on preggy Mary because he was gay and could use her as a cover. Fair enough, it’s the sort of explanation that would occur to a gay man, but need not have any reality outside gay fantasy.

            2. Joseph was frustrated by Mary’s perpetual virginity. The Catholic explanation that Joseph was old when he married Mary because he had already fathered children elsewhere would counter that with both the age and the prior sexual experience.

            The Protestant explanation that Joseph cared for Mary during her first pregnancy, and then had children by her after Jesus was born makes the best sense of the Gospel texts, and takes care of both your suppositions.

          • Findaráto

            Neither explanation “takes care” of the way artists (not just Poussin) depict Joseph as a bemused, irritated and peripheral part of the Holy Family.

            My explanation is far more plausible than either of yours. Joseph was gay, Mary was his beard and Jesus was an ordinary child conceived out of wedlock by unknown means. It may have been rape, which would have been common enough then as it is today in occupied countries. Or Mary may have gone behind the chariot sheds with the local butcher’s, baker’s or candlestick maker’s son and then invented her story about an angel of the Lord when she realised she was pregnant.

            Either way, my explanation is far more plausible than either of yours. Children are born out of wedlock every day and every one of them has a human biological father. Marriages of convenience between gay men and women who need to give their child a name take place frequently in cultures that frown upon homosexuality and illegitimacy.

            Probability supports my version of events, whereas for either of yours to have taken place an event never once recorded and scientifically verified would have needed to happen. A child being born without sperm being involved is not (yet) possible. All female populations do not frequently or even occasionally bring children into the world unless a man enters the picture, no matter how briefly or surreptitiously.

            Probability is against you and supports me.

          • The Explorer

            Gays do front unmarried pregnant girls. ‘A Taste of Honey’ has exactly that theme. And hetero combinations happen too.

            Christians believe God invented the human body, and the reproductive process. A virgin birth would not be beyond God’s capabilities. The incarnation being a one-off event, Hume -style probability would not apply.

            Does Joseph look peripheral in most paintings? A huge question, and probably an unresolvable one. On the issue of interpretation, consider ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’. A Blunt-type explanation would be that it gave Poussin the chance to depict muscular males. Holy -Blood/Grail thinks the sarcophagus is the key and contains the bones of Christ and Mary Magdalene. Catholics would say Poussin is using a classical subject to illustrate the Christian theme of Vanitas. In our modern world, consensus is probably impossible.

            Back to Joseph, most Christians accept that he had several children. Where they differ is whether he had them by Mary, or by a previous wife.

          • Findaráto

            But as Catholics remind us, the biblical term used to refer to Jesus’s brothers could also include cousins. There is no indisputable evidence that Joseph fathered children. Christians believe what they want to believe about that, as about so much else.

            On balance and supported by the simplicity of the solution and by pictorial evidence provided by divinely inspired artists like Poussin, I say that Joseph was gay. You can’t disprove my theory. All you can do is disagree with it. Even if there is no God and Poussin’s inspiration was entirely his own, his suggestion of a marriage of convenience between Joseph and Mary at the very least provides evidence that others share my opinion.

            Beware! We may be more influential than you think. Who knows, maybe the Pope is considering making Joseph the patron saint of closet case husbands. And maybe the next CofE Synod will agree with him…

          • The Explorer

            I had a quick look through my art books, and on line, at depictions of Joseph. I do not find the bemused, irritated and peripheral depictions that you do. Either that’s because I’m blinkered, or because you see only what you have decided in advance that you will find. As with the ‘Arcadia’ example, people bring their preconceptions to art, with a following wind from Postmodernism. The ovum experiment you suggest to stimulate belief would not be conclusive: those who did not wish to believe would still find reasons not to do so.

            Of course you think there is no indisputable evidence for Joseph’s children. As you said in your opening salvo, Christ had no brothers and sisters because Christ didn’t exist. In which case, further debate would be a bit like contesting the colour of a unicorn’s horn.

          • Findaráto

            The ovum experiment would provide proof of intervention in natural processes by an unseen agent with powers roughly similar to those claimed by Christians for God.

            This would of course not prove that Christ’s conception took place in the same manner, but it would open up the possibility that it could have.

            Once you allow for the possibility of miraculous conception, other miracles become possible too. If an unseen agent can set an ovum multiplying and dividing on its own, why wouldn’t it be able to reverse cellular death and resurrect a dead person? In order to interfere with the processes of life it would have to have not only the ability to act on a subatomic level, but also intimate knowledge of how to act, which would imply either a familiarity with our design that only the designer would have, or knowledge so vast that to all intents and purposes the being who possessed it would be omniscient.

            Either way, it would be proof that a higher power exists that can intervene in our world and create life.

            So where is this proof? Discounting the story of Christ, where are the peer reviewed studies showing ova changing into embryos at the drop of a prayer? If God wants us to believe in him so much, why has a simple demonstration of the possibility of Christ’s conception never occurred in any of the IVF labs anywhere in the world?

            The simple answer is that there is no God who can interfere in our lives and that Christianity is an elaborate fantasy. Show me some hard evidence of divine interference in a natural process and the possibility of his existence becomes real. Until then he’s just a fairy story.

          • The Explorer

            Good post. My problem is I’m not sure that hard evidence would make the difference. Matt 28:27. “But some doubted.” Was the problem the quality of the evidence, or the minds of the sceptics? Parable of Dives and Lazarus. If they do not listen to Moses, they will pay no heed if someone should rise from the dead. Heart the problem, not the head.

            Not all strains of Christianity would agree with you about God’s anxiety to have people believe in Him. The Elect will believe, the rest won’t. God’s choice. Those who don’t believe can’t. Faith is a gift that God has chosen not to confer on all.

            Election gives me more difficulty than any other Christian doctrine. I wish it didn’t exist, but it does. I still haven’t resolved it, and I’m not a good person to discuss it with.

          • Findaráto

            Most of us, whether we believe in Moses and the prophets or not, would have trouble believing some random guy who rocked up claiming to have been raised from the dead. Even if we knew the guy and had seen his dead body, the possibility that he wasn’t really dead but just in some kind of catatonic state could not be excluded.

            In biblical times unless a body was in a state where reanimation was clearly impossible, death might easily be misdiagnosed.

            Things are a little different now. I’ll give you an example.

            My mother died quite unexpectedly of an undiagnosed coronary artery aneurysm. She was on her own at the time in a remote country house halfway up an Alp. Her staff had been given the day off to attend a market down in the valley, so her body wasn’t found until they returned in the evening. This meant an autopsy had to be performed to rule out the possibility of foul play. (And before anyone makes the remark, no her name was not Amy Robsart and no, she did not break her neck falling down a flight of stairs…)

            As part of the autopsy, my mother’s chest was opened, which is how the initial diagnosis of a burst aneurysm was confirmed. Anyone who’s ever seen how this is done will understand that once the procedure is performed, even if the person wasn’t dead to begin with but merely in an extreme state of catatonia, he most certainly will be dead once the autopsy has been completed. Add to this the embalming procedure that follows and you can be 100% sure that the beautifully dressed and made-up body presented to you for viewing by the undertakers is well and truly deceased.

            This happened a decade ago. So, if my mother rocked up tomorrow and rang my front door bell, what conclusion could I draw?

            Once the possibility of hallucination had been excluded by contacting relatives and friends and making sure they too were convinced of her identity, I would be left with the inescapable conclusion that, despite my lack of belief in Moses and the prophets, resurrection can indeed take place.

            My mother’s broken and chemically treated body could not have still been alive when we buried her. And dead flesh does not reanimate of its own accord. Some invisible agent would have had to intervene to bring my mother back to life, heal her body and restore her memories. There could be no other explanation.

            A lifetime of disbelief in Moses and the prophets could not alter the fact that witnessing a real, live resurrection would make the resurrection of Christ not only possible, but plausible. So the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is quite mistaken when it states that those who don’t believe in the Bible won’t believe evidence they see with their own eyes (suitably verified of course). If I awake tomorrow to find my mother weeping and wailing in the courtyard over the spot where her beloved but entirely hideous bright blue hydrangeas used to spoil the westward view, and which I had grubbed up and paved over 6 months after she died, then you’ll be seeing me at Mass the following Sunday. Not because I will suddenly believe in the entire Catechism down to the last thou shalt not. But rather because proof of a higher power will force me to acknowledge that enquiries must be made. And what better place to start than the place of worship where my resurrected mother spent half of her life praying to her vengeful, intransigeant and arbitrary God. I certainly wouldn’t like the idea that such a deity might actually exist. But I would be forced to believe that he did and just hope that my mother and her Church’s bleak vision of who he was was mistaken.

            But don’t hold your breath. The old girl always said she’d come back to haunt me, but it hasn’t happened yet. Until it does, or she sends someone else to do the job, Atheism still seems like the only logical position to hold.

          • The Explorer

            Beautifully written.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Leaving the resurrections aside , most people believe in a higher power. You don’t. What if someone like you entrenched in atheism,started to develop doubts.And even, for no known reason ,had a change of heart believing that there may be a higher power. You probably would put that down to some type of chemical imbalance in the brain. So conversely why cant your atheism be some chemical imbalance in your brain ?

          • Findaráto

            Chemical imbalance in the brain?

            So how did you manage to get an Internet connection when you clearly live in the middle of the 1950s? Did the Lizard People give you a Tardis?

            I live in the year 2016 when we no longer believe in simplistic ideas about “chemical imbalances in the brain”. Ideas are not promoted or suppressed by adding a dash of serotonin here, or a drop of dopamine there.

            In any case, I am not, as you put it “entrenched in atheism”. I’m entrenched in no particular philosophy or moral system. I examine each idea and judge it based on the evidence presented. Some ideas I accept provisionally when the evidence stacks up in their favour. Some I reject when they’re patently inaccurate or mistaken. But when it comes to religion, I neither accept nor reject it. I simply set it aside in a tray marked “insufficient data” and there it sits, and has always sat, and probably always will.

            When you don’t have enough data to judge the accuracy or inaccuracy of a theory, it remains a theory. Nothing more. “Changes of heart” don’t alter that, because they bring no new data to the table. Neither do crazy and/or dishonest people who invent or falsify data that doesn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny.

            If I ever start to believe in your religion it will be because someone has supplied me with solid, verifiable and convincing evidence that God exists and that the Bible is his word. So far no Christian has been able to do this.

            This is not entrenched atheism but rather entrenched rationality and logic.

    • carl jacobs

      Why, thank you, Jack. It’s not often I see a RC admit that the superstitions and idolatries heaped upon Mary rest entirely in the authority of Rome.

      • Not what Jack wrote, Carl. Even the reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin didn’t believe Mary had other children. Her childlessness and virginity is what the universal Church believed for over 1500 years. And the Orthodox Church does not submit to the authority of Rome, yet believe Mary was ever virgin.

        • carl jacobs

          Yes, it is what you said. You wrote …

          to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.

          If it rested on a greater authority, then its refutation could not uniquely undermine the authority of Rome. Now, if I was to ask you to prove the Marian dogmas to me from Scripture, you would stare blankly at me. Because there is no mention of any of the dogmas anywhere in Scripture. And two of the three are flatly contradicted.

          This is where you say “Rome has spoken. The matter is settled.”

          • Jack wrote: “The notion that He did (have brothers) only became prevalent after the Reformation to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.”

            What Jack was getting at, amply demonstrated by your posts, is that the idea Jesus had brothers became a protestant cause celebre precisely to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church. And all the Marian doctrines can be gleaned from Scripture.

            Mary:
            The Mother of God;
            Ever Virgin;
            Immaculately Conceived;
            New Eve; and
            Assumed into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.

          • carl jacobs

            “Gleaned.” What a great verb. Are they found in the penumbra like the right to abortion is found in the penumbra of the US Constitution? Because none of them are found there in explicit words and you know it. That’s why you used a verb like “gleaned.” Even Catholics admit none of the Marian dogmas are in Scripture.

            The wonderful thing about being a Protestant is that I don’t have to believe in the infallibility of the Reformers. They came from Rome and had their own biases. I would ask them what I ask you. “Where stands it written?”

          • And you have no biases? No, of course not. You’re your own pope, believing what you deem Scripture to say and mean and let no man tell you otherwise.

            Tell Jack, just where does it say in Scripture that the full revelation of Jesus Christ is contained only in its written pages?

          • Anton

            The Bible is God’s word to his people at each time, collected. It is as unique as He is; that is to say, totally unique. Grumbling that sola scriptura is not in the Bible is like grumbling that it does not contain any argument for God’s existence.

          • The bible does contain arguments for God’s existence. His very revealed name is proof enough of this.

            Sola scriptural is an invention that cannot be substantiated and you know it too.

          • Anton

            That is no more an argument for God’s existence than my speaking to you is an argument for my existence. If you want to twist the meaning of “argument”, feel free.

            Sola scriptural is an invention that cannot be substantiated and you know it too.

            I am not so foolish as to tell you what you know, but you seem to be under no analogous constraint. As I have said, the Bible is God’s word to his people at each time, collected. It is as unique in authority as He is. How unique is that?

          • Prove scripture alone – from scripture.

          • Anton

            I have responded to this challenge elsewhere on this thread.

          • No, you side stepped it.
            Anyone would think there is no scriptural support for scripture alone ….

          • Anton

            “Sola scriptura” is not an assertion/proposition. You might as well ask me to prove “green tomatoes”. Please make explicit in your own words the proposition about which you think we disagree.

          • ” “Sola scriptura” is not an assertion/proposition. You might as well ask me to prove “green tomatoes”. “
            What is it then? Imagination? On whose authority should we accept it? It was only invented some 500 years ago.
            “Please make explicit in your own words the proposition about which you think we disagree.”
            That everything is stated explicitly in scripture and that there is no room for Apostolic teaching or a deepening of understanding of scriptural revelation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

          • Anton

            Everything is not stated in scripture. Scripture itself says that, in the last sentence of John’s gospel.

            Of course there have to be teachers, to instruct each generation in the scriptures; scripture says that teaching is a ministry of the Holy Spirit.

            A deepening of understanding – of WHOSE understanding?

          • Merchantman

            You say invented- I say rediscovered.

          • Based on what? When was it ever accepted by Christians? Please cite evidence supporting it was believed by the early Church and quote the relevant biblical verses.

          • Merchantman

            The bibles I read all state he had brothers, what do yours say? Does one suggest the verses as set out by Len are printers errors.
            Its a fact that the Bible was hidden from the people for about 1500 years. As you know the vernacular was oppressed often on pain of death. That would be enough to stop the conversation.
            There are people in France who still believe Napoleon won Waterloo.

          • The word adelphos, used in scripture, does not just mean blood brothers born of the same parents. It was also used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or stepbrother. The word also described other relationships, like cousins and nephews. In Hebrew and Aramaic, no special word existed for cousin, nephew, or step-brother. The Greek word adelphos was used to capture all of these meanings.

            Other Gospel passages clarify the relationships to Jesus. James and Joses were the sons of Mary of Clophas (Mk 15:40). Judas was the son of James (not either of the Apostles) (Lk 6:16). James the Lesser was the son of Alphaeus (Lk 6:15). James the Greater and John were the sons of Zebedee with a mother other than our Blessed Mother Mary (Mt 20:20).

            After the birth of our Lord, no mention is made of Mary and Joseph ever having other children. Never does it refer to the “sons of Mary” or “a son of Mary,” but only the son of Mary. This point is corroborated at the crucifixion scene. Before He dies, our Lord says to Mary, “Woman, there is your son,” and then to St. John, who is definitely not a blood brother, “There is your mother.” According to Jewish law, the oldest son had the responsibility of caring for the widowed mother, and that responsibility would pass to the next oldest if anything happened to the first-born son. By this time, St. Joseph has died. Since Jesus, the first born, had no “blood brother,” He entrusted Mary to the care of St. John, the Beloved Disciple.

          • Merchantman

            Since Jesus was deserted on the cross by all his disciples bar John and since we are told his half brothers didn’t believe in him and since John was the beloved disciple its understandable he should turn to John.
            I wonder if the betrayal by family is fully understood?
            Betrayal had a far heavier meaning in biblical time than today.
            I would agree that Jesus is making John his de facto brother by adoption and that’s the point; it is made explicit that this was an extra ordinary appointment and has always been understood as such; which goes some way to disprove your point about the lack of clarity on the word adelphos.
            Because in the other references to brothers it is not made distinct. .

          • Half-brothers? So you concede Jesus did not have siblings through Joseph and Mary?

            Our Lord says to Mary, “Woman, there is your son,” and then to John, “There is your mother.” It’s unlikely, indeed unthinkable, that Jesus would act this way towards them if He had a blood brother.

          • Merchantman

            I don’t understand why my stating that Jesus had half brothers means I concede he had no siblings through Mary. Joseph was obviously his step father.
            I think if you look at the passages and context where Jesus siblings are referred to it makes sense to believe they were half’s and not cousins or step’s.
            Thanks for the discussion.

          • Ivan M

            As you say boss that scene at the foot of the Cross is the clincher. Why would Jesus Christ pass over St James usually described as the “brother of Jesus” if he were a son of Mary. At the time of Jesus’ death the remaining brothers should have the responsibility for the care of Mary if they were Her sons. The sons deferred to Jesus, as he had the authority being the natural born one.

          • Agreed. It is the clincher. And what Mary and John must have shared during their time together. It is no wonder that John’s Gospel is so profound.

          • Ivan M

            Those last moments on the Earth was when Jesus willed that all Scripture be fulfilled to perfection. That precludes any idea, that when passing the care of His Mother to the Beloved Disciple He was staging it for effect. As when the other putative sons would claim the guardianship of Mary after the Crucifixion with the changing of scenery. Jesus Christ looked down on them both and established His Church which I believe as a Catholic. At that moment when all of History was being fulfilled there can be no room for doubt of any kind. In this particular case there can be none whatsoever that Mary had no other natural born sons.

          • Absolutely.

          • Rhoda

            Maybe she had some daughters.

          • Anton

            Jesus handed the care of Mary to John rather than to one of his own brothers from Mary because, as John (7:5) says, “even his own brothers did not believe in him”.

          • Merchantman

            I agree. I think it is quite likely at that time there was a division in the family. Jesus says division would occur in families.

          • That wouldn’t necessarily follow. It’s also highly unlikely given Jewish practise about this.

            We’ll never agree and the words of Scripture are open to different interpretations. Jack will stick with the one accepted by the Church for 1600 years and still understood by Catholics, Orthodox Christians, some Anglicans and many Lutherans: i.e. that Mary was a perpetual virgin and that the “brothers”/”brethren” of Jesus were not the biological children of Mary, but were either Jesus’ adoptive brothers, stepbrothers (through Saint Joseph), or cousins of Jesus.[

          • Anton

            It is absurd to give lectures on Jewish practice when Greek asceticism has distorted your worldview to the point that you believe a Jewish couple, getting married for the usual reason, had no sexual union after God had engaged the wife’s womb for 9 months. The Hebraic view is that sex in marriage is “very good” and that children are a blessing. Were this couple blessed?

            Yours is not the view held by the church from the beginning. It entered via a document of which the first mention is 200 years after the event, and which is not written by who it claims to be. In other words, the protoevangelium of James asserting Mary’s perpetual virginity opens with a lie. Not a good start, is it?

            Historians have learnt in recent centuries that without eyewitness documentation all claims are essentially bullshit. Catholic theologians might do the same.

          • “It is absurd to give lectures on Jewish practice when Greek asceticism has distorted your worldview … “
            Is that an argument? Jack is sure there is a term for the logical fallacy it contains.
            “… you believe a Jewish couple, getting married for the usual reason, had no sexual union after God had engaged the wife’s womb for 9 months.”
            Yes Jack does – as did all the Church for over 1600 years and Catholics, Orthodox, some Anglicans and Lutherans still do. Their marriage and relationship was hardly usual. Sex in marriage may well be “very good”
            but it can, with the consent of both parties, be foregone.

            “Yours is not the view held by the church from the beginning.”

            And you know this how? And it was not uncommon at the time the Protoevangelium was written – within a generation of Mary’s earthly life ending) for pseudonyms to be used.

            “Historians have learnt in recent centuries that without eyewitness documentation all claims are essentially bullshit. “

            You want an eye witness account of Mary and Joseph’s marital habits? That puts much of Scripture in a rather difficult spot. Adam and Eve? Abraham and Isaac? Moses and the burning bush? ? The Annunciation? The Angel’s visit to Joseph? All “bullshit”?

          • Anton

            Yes Jack does – as did all the Church for over 1600 years and Catholics, Orthodox, some Anglicans and Lutherans still do. Their marriage and relationship was hardly usual. Sex in marriage may well be “very good” but it can, with the consent of both parties, be foregone.

            And your evidence that sex was foregone by this couple is…?

            The church believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity for over 1600 years but starting many lifetimes after the event. The tradition is therefore worthless and at last the church, to its shame as a result of the better understanding of historiography pioneered by secular historians, is getting rid of such junk. You might as well believe some tale about the Battle of Waterloo found in a just-written document claiming to be by the Duke of Wellington but which is known not to be. That is an accurate analogy.

            My comment on Greek and Hebrew worldviews was not intended as a logical argument running from premisses to conclusions, but it is deeply relevant; once you grasp that difference we can get somewhere.

            If it is an important doctrine and if it is true, why did the gospel writers not take pains to include it?

            You want an eye witness account of Mary and Joseph’s marital habits? That puts much of Scripture in a rather difficult spot. Adam and Eve? Abraham and Isaac? Moses and the burning bush?

            St Luke explains that he carefully interviewed eye-witnesses; St John was there. Don’t you believe that Moses wrote most of Exodus to Deuteronomy, apart from the stuff added on after his death? As for Genesis, the key to understanding that book is the Hebrew word TOLEDOTH, meaning “generations”. The phrase “these are the toledoth of…” appears several times in the earlier, Mesopotamian parts of Genesis. Each section so subdivided runs up close to the death of the man named yet never reaches it, and each section gives information which only that man could have known or found out reliably. No bullshit.

          • Anton

            Because, as John (7:5) says, “even his own brothers did not believe in him”.

          • carl jacobs

            Of course I have biases. But in this case you have given me nothing to be biased about. There is no Scripture behind any of the Marian dogmas. Your argument is nothing more than “Lots of people believed it so you should too.” But why did they believe it? What is the authority?

            You don’t have an answer to that last question. Other than Rome of course. Which is where I came in

          • Ever heard of the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful)?

          • You failed to address this question:

            Tell Jack, just where does it say in Scripture that the full revelation of Jesus Christ is contained only in its written pages?

          • carl jacobs

            Should I just refer to Standard Protestant Apologetic Defense of Sola Scriptura #114? Or perhaps #97 would be more appropriate. C’mon, Jack. You seem to think Sola Scriptura is some huge vulnerability. All you do is attack the sufficiency of Scripture in order to set up Rome as “the answer” but without ever bothering to establish the sufficiency of Rome. I am not going to be side-tracked onto a discussion of Sola Scriptura.

            There are in RCism exactly two sources of special Revelation – Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The Marian dogmas do not appear in Scripture. Anywhere. At all. That’s why you had to “glean” them using a prior assertion of their truth. So if they aren’t in Scripture, then they must be in Tradition.

            Now what did I say? I said that the Marian dogmas rested completely on the RCC. And you have already confirmed am right. What is the content of Sacred Tradition? Nobody knows. It’s simply embodied like a Gnostic mist in the RCC. So how do I know it absent the RCC? I can’t. Why then should I believe them? Because Rome says so. QED.

            If you have some other reason, you are free to present it. But all you have done on this thread so far is shout “Tradition!” That doesn’t cut it.

          • “Should I just refer to Standard Protestant Apologetic Defense of Sola Scriptura #114? Or perhaps #97 would be more appropriate. C’mon, Jack. You seem to think Sola Scriptura is some huge vulnerability.”

            Some defence of the dogma and what it rests on would be helpful, yes. Surely after 35 years of apologetics you have one? No biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority in isolation from the Church and Tradition. Sola scriptura can’t be deduced from implicit passages. Jack has never heard a compelling argument in favour of it. The Bible is not sufficient in and of itself to resolve different interpretations or to discern deeper revelations.

            “All you do is attack the sufficiency of Scripture in order to set up Rome as “the answer” but without ever bothering to establish the sufficiency of Rome.”

            Catholics agree that Scripture is a “standard of truth” but not in a sense that rules out the binding authority of authentic Apostolic Tradition and the Church. Scripture is materially sufficient and every true doctrine can be found in the Bible, if only implicitly and indirectly by deduction.

            “The Marian dogmas do not appear in Scripture. Anywhere. At all. That’s why you had to “glean” them using a prior assertion of their truth. So if they aren’t in Scripture, then they must be in Tradition.”

            The doctrine of perpetual virginity is implicit in scripture. It only became a formal dogma in the 7th century. It was present in the early Church with the first writing we know about dates to approximately AD. 120. One doubts the first Christians would feel too comfortable quizzing Mary about her sexual relationship with Joseph. She may have discussed this with the Apostles. We know she discussed the virgin birth with them.

            “I said that the Marian dogmas rested completely on the RCC. And you have already confirmed am right.”

            They rest on the sensus fidelium of the Church. In 380, Helvidius suggested that the “brethren” were the children born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus. St. Jerome declared this a “novel, wicked, and daring affront to the faith of the whole world.” He used both Scripture and the Fathers, like Polycarp, Irenaeus and Justin Martyr to refute Helvidius. It wasn’t until the First Lateran Council in AD. 649 that the Church definitively declared that Mary was “ever virgin and immaculate.” It was therefore a widely accepted belief before this, stretching back to within 60 years of the end of Mary’s earthly life. So the popular belief predated the dogma.

            “What is the content of Sacred Tradition? Nobody knows. It’s simply embodied like a Gnostic mist in the RCC. So how do I know it absent the RCC? I can’t. Why then should I believe the Marian dogmas? Because Rome says so. QED.”

            Your Christian faith came to you via the Catholic Church. No passage in scripture teaches the formal sufficiency of scripture which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and the Church.

            What is Tradition?

            “When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God”
            (1 Thess. 2:13).

            Paul regards oral teaching and the word of God as synonymous:

            “Keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us”
            (2 Thess. 3:6).

            “If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed”
            (2 Thess. 3:14).

            “Take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them”
            (Rom. 16:17).

          • Anton

            The tradition in which to read the New Testament is the Old. The Old needs no church tradition to make sense of it, because it is not about the church. Therefore no church tradition is needed to make sense of either Testament, ie of scripture.

          • Tell that to the Jews. They certainly don’t understand it in the same way as Christians. Indeed, it is only becomes understandable when taught by Christ and the Church. Remember Jesus appearing on the road to Emmaus and His words and actions? Tradition is about teaching – not about the Church.

          • Anton

            The alternative to every man having his own understanding of scripture is that a particular human understanding of it is asserted to be of equal authority to the words of God. That is blasphemy.

          • How can understanding what God’s word says (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) be blasphemy? It is God who is disclosing its meaning to those to whom He has given His authority to teach its meaning.

    • Matthew 1:25. ‘…….And gave birth to her firstborn Son.’
      The very use of the word ‘firstborn’ indicates that there were others.
      Mark 6:3. ‘”Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they were offended at Him.’
      To support your fantasies, you may imagine that these siblings were children of Joseph by a previous marriage, but there is nothing in this text or any other to support that. It is perfectly natural that Mary, having given birth to the Saviour, should become the husband of Joseph in the fullest sense and have other children.
      Mary was a sinner, saved by grace, and she knew it perfectly well. ‘And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour’ (Luke 1:47).

      • Pubcrawler

        Re Matt. 1.25: ‘firstborn’ is not in the best Greek MSS.

      • Merchantman

        Paul refers to meeting Peter and James the brother of Jesus in Galatians. Jesus trouble with his brothers and their denial and desertion before the Passion suggests to me at least he then had cause to entrust/ in effect adopt John as a brother, for His mother Mary’s sake.

  • pobjoy

    Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee was born in Judea, because his father was a Judahite. The family was not as indigent as is often portrayed, because his father probably owned property in Judea, but worked in Galilee because it was a thriving region, especially as Romans provided extra work for the building trade. However, Joseph was the town carpenter, and this doubtless kept him busy, with the help of his five sons, and indeed daughters, who together numbered at least eight. This may have been a sign of due divine blessing on Joseph, as the psalm of Judahites had it that a blessed man would have ‘his quiver full’ of children.

    Jesus was the firstborn, and after the family returned to Nazareth, when Jesus was perhaps two years old, magi (seers) arrived there from countries to the east (probably including Persia), to both worship him, and to bring valuable gifts that foretold his death, and his divine and kingly status. This was in response to both scriptural prophecy and divine revelation to these men of its fulfilment. However, these sages also brought news that the region’s governor sought to kill Jesus, so Joseph immediately packed mother and child, and presumably the gifts, onto a cart to take the nearby high road to Egypt. In Egypt there was a very large and respected community of compatriots, who doubtless, and naturally, welcomed a newly wealthy builder, for more reasons than one. The family stayed there for some time until the dangerous ruler died, then returned to Nazareth, to resume the old way of life, doubtless not quite so well off as they had been.

    When Jesus was twelve, he demonstrated intelligence and spiritual awareness, as well as obedience to his parents. He even referred to deity as ‘my Father’, obviously in a spiritual sense; an unusual attitude, even among Jews. But there was apparently no sign, after that, of his future, until his ministry, and the sign from heaven at his baptism.

    Jesus succeeded his father as the town carpenter, who probably died some years before Jesus was thirty years old, at about the age of fifty, a typical lifespan at the time, for artisans. When, during his ministry, Jesus returned to Nazareth, he was referred to as a ‘mere’ carpenter, whose family was well known, and people asked, “Where did he get all this?” These are very clear signs that Jesus had never travelled much further than Jerusalem, as did Jews in Galilee, as the norm. Suggestions that he ventured to the East to get inspiration and influence are not only groundless, they are highly unlikely, especially as he had referred to the Temple as his Father’s house, and subsequently defended its honour vigorously. There is in any case nothing of Jesus’ teaching that is not directly taken from the Hebrew Scriptures of the Jews. The Sanhedrin’s Pharisees would have jumped on any alien doctrine like a fox on a rabbit; but they had to invent.

    The New Testament has Jesus’ death, and his consequential divine and kingly status, as its theme and raison d’être.

    • Anton

      I personally prefer the translation “joiner” for TEKTON, rather than carpenter.

      Jesus was from the royal line but his family were poor, for Mary brought two doves rather than a lamb as sacrifice after giving birth (Luke 2:24), as was permitted to poor families (Leviticus 12:8).

      After his barmitzvah he would have travelled to Jerusalem thrice annually, for the festivals of Passover, Firstfruits and Tabernacles, as was commanded to all able-bodied adult men.

      • pobjoy

        I personally prefer the translation “joiner” for TEKTON, rather than carpenter.

        How is this distinction important?

        • Anton

          I mean to suggest that Jesus was physically strong, at home with structural materials, not just a maker of chairs and tables.

          • pobjoy

            You just made that up, in a panic. That’s not the meaning of this word, is it.

            ‘a ​skilled ​worker who makes the ​wooden ​structures inside ​buildings, such as ​doors and ​window ​frames’

            http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/joiner

            So you saw the trap. You were foolishly saying that Joseph and Jesus were better off than some; even though you wrote that they could afford only two doves. Anything to aggrandise your own false authority over a legitimate one.

            You are a liar. Your great, yet tedious fear of justification by faith is evident, yet again.

          • Anton

            Do you realise how absurd it is to tell someone else what is going on inside their head?

            If you believe I am wrong, why didn’t you simply correct me with courtesy instead of calling me a liar?

          • carl jacobs

            You should feel slighted, Anton. He only called you a liar. Over at Spectator, he called me the nastiest liar on the internet. But don’t be angry over my superior status. Think of it as incentive to achieve greater things.

            😉

          • pobjoy

            he called me the nastiest liar on the internet

            For which I apologised fully.

            I read the above comment by happenstance.

          • Anton

            Why did you think I was “panic[king]”? I don’t understand. To me this is simply a matter of translation.

          • William Lewis

            What a strange sub thread you seem to be embroiled in, Anton!

          • Anton

            I can only agree.

          • carl jacobs

            For which I apologised fully.

            You did? I never saw it. Let me check.

            pobjoy, you edited the post in which you called me a liar and replaced it with an apology. There is no way I would have ever seen that except for the fact that you just mentioned it. People don’t check old threads. You need to make a new post so Disqus will flag it.

          • pobjoy

            That was done for good reason. Perhaps you should now think about whether the original was not completely unjustified.

          • carl jacobs

            You:

            1. Accused me of lying without cause.
            2. Refused to back up the charge when confronted.
            3. Deleted the evidence of your guilt at some point over that past 13 days.
            4. Apologized for your false accusation in a manner that guaranteed I would never see it.

            Now you accuse Anton of lying, and vitiate your previous apology by suggesting darkly that perhaps I should “think about whether the original was not completely unjustified.”

            In the first place, I know Anton. I don’t know you. In the second, place I don’t have “think about” anything of the sort. I know the truth. All you have done is fix in my mind that you love to accuse people of lying.

          • pobjoy

            So what do you think is a good description of a joiner?

          • carl jacobs

            I think the definition isn’t cause for calling someone a liar. I have several times read your post where you called Anton a liar. I still can’t follow the chain of thought from ‘trap’ to ‘fear’ of justification by faith. If you knew Anton (and you obviously don’t ) you would know just how ignorant that post was.

          • pobjoy

            Another poltroon.

          • CliveM

            Just what is your problem?

          • carl jacobs

            This is how you represent the Faith? You call people you don’t know liars and cowards. Serious question. How old are you?

          • William Lewis

            Do you have a point here or is personal attack your raison d’être? Only we’ve already acquired a resident spittle flecked attack dog and he’s rather more proficient, if tediously repetitive.

          • Anton

            Thank you very much for this revealing background, Carl. What did you say such that he called you the nastiest liar on the internet?

          • carl jacobs

            Ironically enough, he never said. I think he confused me with someone else.

          • Ivan M

            Careful you are speculating…

          • Anton

            I’m not meaning to. I simply think that “joiner” is a better translation into today’s English than “carpenter”. I welcome comments from those who understand ancient Greek well. Theology not required for this one!

          • So what’s the job description of a low income carpenter in a small village? One doesn’t suppose Jesus was in a trade union with restrictive work practices or that He refused work as being beneath Him.

      • dannybhoy

        Good point.

  • Uncle Brian

    There is no single established truth about Joseph, Jesus and the carpentry business during the “missing years”. Here’s an alternative conjecture that is no less realistic than any of the others that have appeared on this thread so far.

    As a starting point, bear in mind that Nazareth is unknown in the Old Testament and in all other ancient sources earlier than the New Testament. Even Josephus never mentions it, though he writes extensively about Galilee. In the New Testament, it occurs only in the Gospels and Acts, as the place where Jesus and his family lived and where he was known as a member of the synagogue. It is never mentioned in any other connection. Conclusion: it must have been a very small place indeed and of no economic or political importance at all.

    Nazareth is within walking distance of Sepphoris (three miles as the crow flies, say a four-mile walk). If Sepphoris was not already the capital of Galilee, Herod the Great made it so after he captured it from Antigonus in 37 BC, in the fighting that brought him to the throne as a puppet ruler under Pompey.

    Herod held the city until his death in 4 BC. In those 33 years he undertook extensive building work there. It suffered severe damage in 4 BC when Varus crushed a Galilean revolt but Herod Antipas, appointed tetrarch by Augustus, kept Sepphoris as his capital until he finished building Tiberias in about AD 18.

    Conclusion: The conventional image of Joseph earning his living in his carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, making farm implements or furniture for the villagers, may be wildly inaccurate. He is equally likely to have worked at Sepphoris as one of a large army of building workers – masons, carpenters, and many other skilled craftsmen – employed on long-term building projects under Herod the Great and later under Antipas.

    • pobjoy

      bear in mind that Nazareth is unknown in the Old Testament

      Along with very many other places, some of which grew up in the inter-testamental period. This would have been the case particularly in Galilee after the Alexandrian Conquest and the establishment of a lingua franca to increase trade for ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’.

      Even Josephus never mentions it

      Josephus was keen to give a good impression of his native land and compatriots. Nazareth was evidently unfashionable: Nathanael was singularly approved by Jesus, yet even he said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

      In the New Testament, it occurs only in the Gospels and Acts,

      It
      would not be expected anywhere else. After Jesus’ resurrection, the
      perception of his kingdom of heaven, and the whole earth, was far more
      important. However, Paul mentioned ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ in his testimony to King Agrippa, who may be supposed to have known the towns in his own jurisdiction.

      as the place where Jesus and his family lived

      Which
      family was well known to the inhabitants, with Jesus known locally as
      ‘the carpenter’ or perhaps ‘the builder’ (either term possessed apt
      figurative sense). Quite a large family, too, whose attempt to silence
      Jesus was evidently current local knowledge at the time.

      and where he was known as a member of the synagogue

      Nazareth was big enough to have a synagogue, therefore.

    • dannybhoy

      UB
      there are others who hypothesise that Jesus was more than the stepson of a
      carpenter. That in fact he may have been more educated and trained or studied as a Rabbi.
      (I got that from a couple of books I’ve been reading..’The Triumph of Christianity’ -Rodney Stark, and ‘Searching for Jesus’ by Robert J Hutchinson. I can heartily recommend the latter as an informative resource book looking at both archaeology and the discipline of textual criticism..)
      My starting point is that the Bible has all that we need to find salvation, that the Bible is as faithful to the original Scriptures as possible.

      However the idea that Jesus was actually far more aware and prepared for His ministry than we realise is a reasonable fit with the Gospel record.
      When we consider the details of Mary’s impending pregnancy, the birth, the pronouncements made by the angels, and the events surrounding His bar mitzvah; it is inconceivable that Mary would not have known her Son was destined for some great mission.
      Like any good Jewish mother she would have wanted the best for her son, and stepfather Joseph would have supported her in this.
      So conceivably our Lord had a sense of mission from an early age, that He was more educated than we thought, and that would explain (perhaps) the well to do women who followed/supported Him..

      • pobjoy

        ALERT

        Far right propaganda.

        • Pubcrawler

          Please define your terms.

  • preacher

    Why wander off into speculation that can never be authenticated, when so many people don’t know the contents of the Bible itself to start with ?.
    IMO these ideas were planted by the devil to divert people from finding the truth & following God’s plan of salvation.
    It’s all there, from the annunciation to the resurrection. Everybody has only a short time to find salvation. From day one the sands of our lives here are running out, some regrettably faster than others. The fact is no one will ever find out the answers to these speculative questions. They are time wasters – red herrings. There is enough written in scripture for us to believe & be saved, don’t wait, as the word says ” Today is the day of salvation ” not tomorrow or next week or when you are sure if Jesus was a guru or a hod carrier or whatever – it is irrelevant to YOU & your salvation & even if you did satisfy yourself about the ‘ lost ‘ years it would make no difference to the truth written in the Word for your benefit & You can bet the devil will come up with some other question to swerve you from the truth. Don’t forget where it all started, ” Did God really say ? ” could be a reiteration of the same question, just in a different format ” What did Jesus really do & where did He do it in those ‘ hidden ‘ years ? “. As the advert says ‘ Go Compare ! “.

    Blessings. P.

  • pobjoy

    Did Jesus have brothers and/or sisters?

    That it can matter is a thing taught of demons. There is no easy way into the sheepfold by means of Jesus’ mother, and her imagined pleas and favours. Her proposed virginity is not proved if she was childless, apart from Jesus, anyway; and barrenness was taken as a sign of divine disfavour when Mary was alive, and before Jesus’ baptism to give the first public sign of his divinity.

    Jesus said that his brothers and sisters were those who do the will of his Father, that is, trust in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. By this means is a believer accounted fully righteous before God; and by this means only. Any attempt or even thought to justify oneself by works, charitable or religious, serves only to tell deity that his sacrifice was inadequate, and that Jesus was not actually the Lamb of God that John the baptiser said he was.