380Re: Jesus the Carpenter?
- Jun 16, 1998I can't help being a little curious about two aspects of Mark's description of
Jesus' trade and family.
Firstly, Jesus is called a 'tekton/artisan' in response to the rhetorical
reference to "mighty works wrought by his hands". (Mark 6:2-3). Doesnt this
across as another example of Marks portrayal of the spiritual blindness of the
lesser mortals -- similar to saying: Is this the shepherd/potter of Israel? Nah,
just a shepherd/potter. Whether the tekton reference is historical or not, there
certainly appears to be literary artifice in the way it is introduced. And
not only literary artifice, but also theological intent. Does not Mark regularly
depict spiritual blindness by mundane images taken at face value, and elsewhere
lace his stories with details that are really spiritual symbols? (the fruitless
fig tree, leaven, temple destruction and rebuilding in 3 days, blind
garment, healing the blind, 40 days in wilderness, Simon-Jairus inverted
Does not this literary and theological context of Mark give some cause to pause
before assuming the tekton reference is referring to historical reality?
Secondly (and I know I'm stretching out on a limb even further with this, but I
have to throw it in if I'm ever to have a chance of picking the brains of those
who have read more than I have): Is not Mark's list of Jesus' family names also
decked with literary and theological artifice?
Here we have the context of a rejected prophet. So how appropriate that Jesus
should be the son of Miriam, and brother to Jacob, Joseph, Judah and Simeon"!
five names were the original outcasts. Jacob had to flee to escape Esau, then
Joseph was rejected and sold, followed by Judah leaving his family and playing
around with a harlot, with Simeon being the final one to be "lost" from the
when held hostage in Egypt. And of course Miriam was the leader who was cast out
for a time for leprosy. (The point is the simple fact of being on the outside
despite the fact that they were founding fathers/leaders -- Mark seems to be
prepared to pick even unworthy OT figures to serve as background relief in his
portrayal of Jesus.)
Is it not almost enough to wonder if Mark was essentially saying here: Jesus
proverbial prophet without honour in his own family) was the brother of
Castaway, Runaway and Takeaway? (Or at least the brother of Genesis characters
proverbial for such ideas?)
Though Mark does add a reference to Jesus' sisters (after reading the list of
Genesis names above is one tempted to think of Dinah?) no names are given here,
and one might sense that their mention here is a tidy finishing touch after
himself had earlier spoken in a somewhat similar context of his true "brother,
sister, and mother" (3:35).
I know all this might well seem very waferish. But the various complex literary
artifices and theological symbols throughout Mark surely justify at least
wondering aloud whether there is necessarily any historical basis at all for
Mark's mention of Jesus' trade and family. (At least on the point of his trade
both Matthew and Luke also seem to have had some problem for whatever reason
repeating Mark's bald claim that he was a 'tekton'.)
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