12225Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)
- Jan 1, 2003Dear Bill and others
I think the parallels between _Joseph and Asenath_ and Matthew's Joseph Story are so clear that it is difficult not to see that the writer of Matthew's story knew and used _Joseph and Asenath_. Here are some examples:
1) Joseph is a respected irreproachable man, known of his observance to the Torah and always willing to do the will of God.
2) Joseph has plans to marry a virgin (whose virginity is highlighted), but is afraid to do that because he thinks it would not be appropriate for some reasons.
3) Joseph is trying to escape the situation, but sees an angelic vision that encourages him to marry the virgin.
4) Joseph gets married with the virgin, which is the will of God since from this marriage would born someone highly venerated by the reader's of the story.
Someone might easily found also other connections between the stories, but these were the first that came to my mind (I do not have J & A here at home, so I may have missed something important).
To Gordon (who missed me at SBL meeting which I skipped last year):
I take both these stories only as stories without that psychological stuff you referred to that I do not even understand. However, if a scholar "votes pink or red" on the claim that Matthew used J&A when composing his birth narrative, several conclusions can be made:
A) Joseph is a fictional figure - whatever be the name of the father of Jesus. This holds true also for the other parts of the Gospel of Matthew. (I would vote red).
B) When the other Gospels mention Joseph as Jesus's father, there is at least a strong suspicion that they have read or heard the story of Joseph composed by the writer of Matthew. (pink in my opinion).
C) There remains the possibility that a pre-Matthean tradition existed according to which the name of Jesus's father was Joseph and this would have been the reason to Matthew to pick up J&A when composing the story on a brutal fact of the name Joseph. This "fact" was also known to Luke and John who did not know Matthew's story on Joseph. This seems unlikely to me, because we do not have even a trace of such a pre-Matthean tradition on Joseph and because it would be too big a coincidence that also Luke would have composed a somewhat similar story of virgin Mary becoming pregnant when betrothed to Joseph without having ever heard of the birth story of Matthew. (grey)
And here comes my black vote:
D) Because the story of Joseph is a fiction it is not possible to reconstruct such a scenario of Jesus's family that the family had been Torah-observant Judaeans. At least this scenario cannot be based on the figure of the Torah-observant Joseph. (black to the scenario).
All the best,
Hopefully there will be no war in Iraq.
Dr. Sakari Hakkinen
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