15 April 2008


Posted by at 2:46 PM Read our previous post
Over at Pistoumen, there's an interesting theory (nay, a rumination) regarding the identity of Joseph "of Arimathea." (JºA) The blog credits A.J. Fejfar with this bold discovery.

The gist of it that since there's no way to really know that Joseph (Jesus' father) had died relatively early (as the complete silence in the NT regarding Joseph after his brief role in but two of the synoptics suggests to their readers) , that it is possible that he lived on to even survive Jesus. JºA is put forward as a likely "secret identity" of Jesus' father.

Maybe, since he is referred to as a Tekton in the texts, the rumination goes on, and since Tektons were rumored to be prone to "penury," then perhaps Joseph, in order to avoid prosecution or shame or taxes or what-have-you, moved to Arimathea and changed his name. This would allow for the possibility that both his mother and his father were present in Jerusalem for Jesus' egress.

Over at Sunestauromai, the idea is deemed "persuasive" and some questions are asked about the implications for Catholic doctrines . . . etc

Since we are asking questions, here are some of my own:
  1. "Penury"?
    First of all, I would immediately ask for a textual citation for this claim, until then, this is but a silly ad hoc contrivance.
    But, for the sake of argument, I'll seriously consider it for a moment.
  2. Here I would next ask: why on earth would Yusef be harrassed and prosecuted for being destitute (which is what "penury" means)? Even if we extend the definition of the word to denote miserly behavior, isn't one man's miserliness another man's frugality? Where was the dividing line in this "practice"? Is there any evidence that would lead to the conclusion that stingy people were prosecuted to such a high degree in the Galilee—to the point of even having to change their name and locale?
  3. Further bracketing the silliness, I'll next ask: Why would Joseph have to change his name, but Jesus could continue to use the Nazareth reference? This seems counter-productive. Non?
  4. Also, if Joseph wanted to "hide," why would he retain even the "Joseph" part of his name? Imagine Vito Corleone entering the witness protection program, where afterward he is known as "Vito from Yonkers."
    What kind of "hiding" is that? He would do better by wearing a burkka.
    (does this seem silly yet? :)
  5. Since we are being arbitrary here, isn't it possible that this was his real name after all, i.e. Yusef bar Matthai?
    I mean, the two genealogies don't even agree on what his name at Nazareth was: Was it Yusef Bar Yacob? — Or bar Heli? I suggest that this is at least as probable as the present rumination.

I'll stop here, lest I be deemed as arrogant (as was the case when I tried to call attention to the folly in the rumination), and I'll end by adding a glimpse of my own view regarding JºA.

I happen to think that the JºA bit was invented out of whole cloth by the author of GMark in order to establish in one fell swoop 1- that Jesus had been indeed buried, and 2- that the women watching from a distance would know where Jesus had been interred (both of these being highly improbable scenarios without reliance on such a character as JºA to tie the empty tomb story together) . . . so the whole point is moot to me in the end, but is it amusing to see people taking convoluted fanciful things like this this seriously.



1 comment:

  1. And thus, once again, we learn that a good theological explanation can be a bad explanation in pretty much every other way. But then, that's why they call it "faith," I suppose...


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