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Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)

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  • Sakari Häkkinen
    Dear 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
    Message 1 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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      Dear 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,

      Sakari

      Hopefully there will be no war in Iraq.

      Dr. Sakari Hakkinen
      Diocesan secretary
      Kuopio, Finland
      sakari.hakkinen@...





      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • mwgrondin <mwgrondin@comcast.net>
      ... 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
      Message 2 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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        --- Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
        > 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).

        The scenario is not based on a Torah-observant Joseph per se, nor on
        any of the birth narratives. Part of the evidence is the names given
        to Jesus and his brothers. This, I think, one cannot deny.

        Mike Grondin
        Mt. Clemens, MI
      • Jack Kilmon
        ... From: To: Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 10:29 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was:
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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          ----- Original Message -----
          From: <mwgrondin@...>
          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Wednesday, January 01, 2003 10:29 AM
          Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)


          > --- Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
          > > 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).
          >
          > The scenario is not based on a Torah-observant Joseph per se, nor on
          > any of the birth narratives. Part of the evidence is the names given
          > to Jesus and his brothers. This, I think, one cannot deny.

          All of the squabbling aside, I am ALMOST ready to accept the "James Ossuary"
          as PROBABLY authentic to the historical James, hence resolving whether or
          not Joseph was fictional.

          Jack
        • Bob Schacht
          ... There s a nice summary article on Joseph & Asenath in the Anchor Bible Dictionary by Randall Chesnutt. After being relegated for a long time to the bin of
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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            At 04:58 PM 1/1/2003 +0200, you wrote:
            >Dear 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)....

            There's a nice summary article on Joseph & Asenath in the Anchor Bible
            Dictionary by Randall Chesnutt. After being relegated for a long time to
            the bin of later Christian literature, the consensus now seems to be that
            it is a legitimate First(?) Century work of Jewish literature-- either the
            first century BCE or CE! Evidence for dating gets more conjectural, of
            course, as one tries to narrow the date down further, but there is an
            excellent chance that it preceded the composition of the Gospel of Matthew.

            There is a danger of naive reductionism here-- that is, concluding that
            Matthew's Joseph story is "nothing but" an adaptation of the story of
            Joseph and Asenath. We don't know what other traditions Matthew may have
            had access to.

            Bob Schacht
          • Gordon Raynal
            Hi Sakari, ... I don t have any problem with your conclusions here, but just note that it depends if John and the Infancy Gospels are independent in this
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 1, 2003
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              Hi Sakari,

              >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).

              I don't have any problem with your conclusions here, but just note that it
              depends if John and the Infancy Gospels are independent in this particular
              regard as to Joseph's "dadship:)!" (not the bio claim, but simply as father
              to this family of at least 7 kids). My vote would be light gray to dull
              pink that a Tekton named Joseph of Nazareth was dad:)!

              Happy New Year!
              Gordon
            • Karel Hanhart
              ... From: Gordon Raynal To: Cc: Michael Ensley Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 4:29 PM
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
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                ----- Original Message -----
                From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
                To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                Cc: Michael Ensley <mensley@...>
                Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 4:29 PM
                Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)

                Dear Sakari and Gordon,

                Like many before us, I too have pursued the Celsus legend
                that historically Jesus was a 'mamzer' and that his begetter
                was a Roman soldier.
                However, I abandoned the idea, because in Mark
                6,3 persons HOSTILE to Jesus use the derogatory
                epithet: 'son of Mirjam'. In the East, if the mother is
                named, the implication is that the father is unknown.
                It is simply a swearword used in nearly all cultures:sob
                The epithet is repeated in the Mishna.
                The Markan version was too short and too ambiguous
                for christians to be underrstood. Hence Matthew's
                ironic opening 'begetting' story of his Gospel,
                spelling out and elaborating what Mark also proclaimed in
                'son of God (1,11; 9,7).
                In exegesis it is important to establish who is saying what
                and why.

                cordially,

                Karel




                Hi Sakari,

                Missed seeing you at SBL this year.

                To this post... 'tis the tekton biz... like father/ like son... and the
                number of siblings that push me in favor of Joseph as "dad" (whether
                biological or not). Personally I think all this "fatherless"/ "mamser"/
                "rape" stuff, and all the rest of this sort of speculation which soars into
                anachronistic psychological profiling is the stuff of modernity/
                post-modernity. Such as this is **so** popular these days, but it reeks of
                our psychologically obsessed world. Looking at the parables and aphorisms
                and at the essential nature of the mission discourse there is no necessary
                reason to suppose that Jesus was neurotically driven:)! I'm with you as to
                the stories... storied elaborations from the Hebraic heritage. My best guess
                is that Joe was Mary's husband and father of the whole lot of this large
                family... at least 6 (Jesus, 4 brothers and sisters #??) who were alive with
                mom when he was parabling. Considering the general morbitity/ mortality
                rates of the era this had to be a pretty healthy and at least adequately fed
                family. But then again... not much of a shock that "Dad" died before his 30
                something son came to be well known.

                Anyway... good to hear from you.

                Gordon Raynal
                Inman, SC

                >From: Sakari Häkkinen <sakari.hakkinen@...>


                >I am a bit surprised what comes to the suggestions of Joseph's marriages.
                >Was he even a historical figure? The earliest evidence comes from Matthew,
                >Paul, Mark and Q do not mention him. Much depends on whether Luke and John
                >could be regarded as independent sources what comes to Joseph. I think
                >Andries van Aarde makes a good point in his _Fatherless in Galilee_ when he
                >connects the story of Joseph to contemporary reverence of the Patriarch
                >Joseph, especially in Galilee. It is worth comparing Matthew's story of
                >Joseph (especially Matth. 1:18-23) to the novel Joseph and Asenath, which
                >was quite a popular writing at the time Matthew wrote his story. Naturally,
                >if the figure of Joseph in Matth. is based solely on the Hebrew Bible and
                >other Jewish literature, it does not automatically follow, that Joseph
                >never existed. If I recall right, it was about a half of the JSem fellows
                >who regarded Joseph as the real father of Jesus. The vote would almost
                >certainly give other results if it could be convincingly argued that 1)
                >Matthew's story of Joseph and Mary is based merely on literature and 2)
                >Luke's and John's knowledge on Joseph is based on Matthew's story. What do
                >you think?


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              • Gordon Raynal
                Hi Karel, Thanks for the note. I guess you say my last note to Sakari... in that I d give a greyish to pinkish vote for Jesus Dad being Joseph the Tekton.
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 2, 2003
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                  Hi Karel,

                  Thanks for the note. I guess you say my last note to Sakari... in that I'd
                  give a greyish to pinkish vote for Jesus' Dad being Joseph the Tekton. But
                  this is just one more case where the data is so little and so open to lots
                  of explanations.

                  Gordon Raynal
                • mwgrondin <mwgrondin@comcast.net>
                  ... Sure. But if this was just a generic insult, why did Mark even dignify it by alluding to it? You seem to suggest that he was in fact committed to a
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 3, 2003
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                    --- Karel Hanhart wrote:
                    > ... I too have pursued the Celsus legend that historically Jesus
                    > was a 'mamzer' and that his begetter was a Roman soldier.
                    > However, I abandoned the idea, because in Mark 6,3 persons
                    > HOSTILE to Jesus use the derogatory epithet: 'son of Mirjam'.
                    > ... In exegesis it is important to establish who is saying what
                    > and why.

                    Sure. But if this was just a generic insult, why did Mark even
                    dignify it by alluding to it? You seem to suggest that he was in
                    fact committed to a virginal conception, but presented the idea so
                    subtly (via inference from the heavenly proclamation) that it went
                    unrecognized. This would be more defensible, I think, were it not
                    for the descent of the dove, which has been widely interpreted as
                    an act of adoption at that moment, and not previously. Furthermore,
                    the charge of illegitimacy is echoed in GThomas, but again without
                    any explicit claim of virginal conception. This seems to suggest
                    that the charge came first, that it was not just a generic insult,
                    and that the virginal conception was by way of (a Hellenistic?)
                    response to it.

                    Mike Grondin
                    Mt. Clemens, MI
                  • Karel Hanhart
                    ... From: Gordon Raynal To: Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 8:13 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph?
                    Message 9 of 15 , Jan 6, 2003
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                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...>
                      To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 8:13 PM
                      Subject: Re: [XTalk] Historical Joseph? (was: Bethlehem, Galilee?)




                      Gordon wrote,:

                      > Thanks for the note. I guess you saw my last note to Sakari... in that
                      I'd
                      > give a greyish to pinkish vote for Jesus' Dad being Joseph the Tekton.

                      In addition to my brief note re. 'son of Mary' in Mark 6,3 being a
                      derogatory
                      epithet made by persons hostile to Jesus, I should have added that
                      'tekton' in this verse should be translated as 'templebuilder' because
                      in the Septuagint the word refers almost always to the craftsmen who built
                      the temple. This too was meant as an insult. Jesus' prophecy against a
                      false temple cult also is referred to on 11, 15-18; 13,2, 14,58; 15,29.38.
                      Matthew's version which you choose, appears to be an Matthean
                      attempt to circumvent the crude insinuation in Mark's original version which
                      could easily be misundertood by young or by new members of the ecclesia.

                      But
                      > this is just one more case where the data is so little and so open to lots
                      > of explanations.

                      True,

                      yours cordially,

                      Karel
                      > Gordon Raynal
                      >
                      > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
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                      >
                      >
                    • Gordon Raynal
                      ... Karel, Thanks for this. Haven t thought about the tekton translation in exactly this way. Gordon
                      Message 10 of 15 , Jan 6, 2003
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                        > In addition to my brief note re. 'son of Mary' in Mark 6,3 being a
                        >derogatory
                        >epithet made by persons hostile to Jesus, I should have added that
                        >'tekton' in this verse should be translated as 'templebuilder' because
                        >in the Septuagint the word refers almost always to the craftsmen who built
                        >the temple. This too was meant as an insult. Jesus' prophecy against a
                        >false temple cult also is referred to on 11, 15-18; 13,2, 14,58; 15,29.38.
                        > Matthew's version which you choose, appears to be an Matthean
                        >attempt to circumvent the crude insinuation in Mark's original version which
                        >could easily be misundertood by young or by new members of the ecclesia.

                        Karel,

                        Thanks for this. Haven't thought about the tekton translation in exactly
                        this way.

                        Gordon
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