An Ode to Joseph, the Unappreciated

If you read last Friday's news briefs, you probably came across this particular story —which is very fitting for this time of year— about the uproar caused by a billboard erected in New Zealand, showing a dejected Joseph sharing a bed with his 'wife' Mary. This billboard caused some interesting comments:

"What we're trying to do is to get people to think more about what Christmas is all about," he told the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA).

"Is it about a spiritual male God sending down sperm so a child would be born, or is it about the power of love in our midst as seen in Jesus?"

Unsurprisingly, the Catholic reaction was thus:

"Our Christian tradition of 2,000 years is that Mary remains a virgin and that Jesus is the son of God, not Joseph," she told the New Zealand Herald. "Such a poster is inappropriate and disrespectful."

Jesus, the son of God; and Mary, the forever virgin... & what about Joseph?

Instead of entering into the usual debate of whether Mary had more children apart from his first-born Jesus —something believed by the Protestand faiths and even manifested in some Apocryphal gospels— I would like to write a few things on behalf of poor Joseph, strictly from the 'canonical' side of things.

If you look at any classical painting depicting the 'holy family' you will usually find Joseph relegated to a secondary position, with the center upfront reserved to Mary and her child. This was a popular formula to help manifest to the viewer that Jesus was not related to Joseph in the blood —although today I laughed with the comment of a journalist, who questioned whether the real reason Joseph is always hiding in the back, is out of shame for not having followed his wife's sage advise: "See now how we have to stay in stable? I TOLD you to book us a room beforehand!" ;)

But anyway, the canonical gospels tell us little of Joseph, aside from informing us he's a descendant of the house of David; but all the time we see poor Joe obeying commands sent by the 'real' father of the boy during his dreams: "what's this about a divorce?! accept your wife because the child is MINE"; "take the child and flee to Egypt! who cares about your carpentry business?"; "So you like the pyramids after all, huh? well, tough luck! return to Israel".

And every time poor faithful Joe obeyed as asked, without hesitation —and without asking for any child support to the 'biological' dad either!— and what did he get in return?

A secondary role in every painting of his family.

Well, if there's something I've learned of living 36 years in this planet, is this: 'Father' is NOT the guy who engenders the child, but the guy who raises that child —isn't that what we keep telling young boys everytime we put a condom on their hands?— Father is the man who educates the child, and that through his example turns the child into a proper adult.

So maybe a dove came down from heaven & planted some celestial seed into a young hebrew girl. To me, a bigger miracle is that of a man who raises a child who is not of his blood, and loves him as if it were his own.

A miracle that can still occur to this very day, everytime an orphan is adopted.

So, this Xmas eve, be sure to make a toast on behalf of Joseph: the carpenter who raised the son of a God, and helped turn him into the son of Man :)

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Kathrinn's picture
Member since:
10 August 2004
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9 weeks 23 hours

Very nice thought Red - Joseph is the forever-ignored and apart from raising a rather rebellious son (who was allegedly not his), he also raised many other children and probably had to work his butt off to do so as I don't think life was very easy then.

Although I am not a religious person, I thought the billboard was totally disgusting and I'm not surprised that people took offence. Makes me wonder about the church that put it up.

Regards, Kathrinn

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
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9 hours 11 min

Thanks for the comment. I've too always respected the figure of Joseph, and wished the Bible would have more info on him —we don't even know how or when he died!

About the billboard: while I don't find it particularly offensive per se, it's unfortunate because it failed to communicate the intended message.

If you seek to cause stir with distastefulness, then you shouldn't be surprised with the resulting uproar.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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thefloppy1's picture
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1 May 2004
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....died when Jesus was 14. He(Joseph)had tavelled to a merchants place to fix a wagon that had lost a wheel. Unfortunatly the wagon fell on him and he died soon after of the injuries. Mary and James did not reach him before he died. Mary was pregnant with their ninth child at this time.
Jesus had stayed hpme to look after the little ones.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

thefloppy1's picture
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1 May 2004
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sorry I made a mistake, it was a derrich not a wagon and it was the Govenor's house not a merchant. Date was the 25th of September AD 8.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

red pill junkie's picture
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12 April 2007
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What's the source for that date and COD?

And you also establish that Jesus was born in the year 6 B.C. Something I don't have a problem with; but still, it remains uncertain.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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thefloppy1's picture
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the Urantia book. Covers JC's life in great detail.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.

red pill junkie's picture
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12 April 2007
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And the reason I suspected it is that I'm fan of a series of books called "Caballo de Troya" (Horse of Troy), written by J.J. Benítez, which some say is inspired by the Urantia material.

Second book has a lot of info about Jesus' infancy; but according to that book, joseph died in a construction accident or something —the Arameic word tekton can mean 'contractor' as well as 'carpenter'.

Anyway, that's one of the reasons I'm inclined to think Jesus wasn't an only child: because what kind of a God would permit an only son to abandon his widow mother after being his sole sustenance in the world?? But that's my personal opinion.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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thefloppy1's picture
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a derrich is a timber framed crane with blocks and pullys used for construction. Joseph was a skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker. In those days timber workers would of worked side by side with stonemasons in all constructions. Derrichs were very common as many timbers and stone lintels were very heavy.

"Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told."
LRF.