FishEaters Traditional Catholic Forums

Full Version: Question on St Joseph and Eastern Church
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2
It seems there's no tradition of devotion to st Joseph in the eastern orthodox church. I love icons (russian ones especially) but the only icons of Joseph seem very modern, usually Western adaptions. Why does he not feature in Eastern Christianity? I've heard it said that the East has no theology of the holy family as such but don't really know what that's supposed to mean. Can anyone shed some light?
Interesting question, though Western devotion to St. Joseph is itself fairly recent, no? Here is what John Bossy says in his Christianity in the West:
Quote:The close of the Middle Ages was to see a remarkable rehabilitation of this dismal figure. Gerson launched the idea of Joseph as a saint. Soon afterwards he acquired a feast-day; by 1500 his cult was spreading from the carpenters' gilds to the population at large, and he had achieved the more youthful persona suitable to paternity. By the time of the Reformation, among those concerned to contain their devotion within authentic scriptural data, the new trinity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was coming to rival the older one of Jesus, Mary and St Anne. The cultivation of the name Jesus, much promoted from the middle of the fifteenth century, was a tribute to it, since it was the name which Joseph had been instructed to give his wife's child; so, more sensationally, was the discovery about 1470 that the family house at Nazareth had been transported by air to the Italian village of Loreto a century or two before.

As to why this never caught on in the East, it might be a bit of a cliche, but perhaps it has to do with a greater focus on Christ's humanity in the West. I suppose it could also be related to newer ideas about the family and so forth. As the domestic family became more prevalent, it would be natural for people to look to St. Joseph as a model of fatherhood.
Yes I'm aware that devotion to Saint Joseph is a relatively late phenomenon. It just seemed strange that no parallel development took place in the East.

I think your point about family structures may be very significant. Perhaps moderns needed a divine counterpoint to the growing phenomenon of the nuclear family, even if this does risk obscuring the more communal upbringing our Lord probably had in a large extended family. I suppose the West went down this path of social disintegration before the East.

All the same, I doubt if the devotion to Joseph can be attributed completely to temporal factors. The Carmelites played a great role in promoting him among the faithful, especially as a model of contemplation and the inner life. I love that his silence in Scripture is interpreted this way. But my point is, you would think this would really resonate in the East...

I suspect it can't be 'just one of those things'. Perhaps it's precisely because the Eastern tradition is, well let's face it, probably richer in contemplative tradition, that providence sees Joseph re-emerging in the West as a model of the inner life...
The Copts actually have had a measure of popular devotion to St. Joseph going back to late antiquity.  It mostly centered on pilgrimages to holy places in Egypt where St. Joseph was believed to have taken the Holy Family during the Flight.  But like in earlier times in the West, St. John the Baptist tends to occupy the "second place" after the Virgin (cf. the Forerunner's place in the Confiteor, whereas St. Joseph is absent), given both his prominence in the Scriptures and as a model for the monastic life, which is so dear to the Coptic tradition.
(11-19-2012, 08:11 PM)FleetingShadow Wrote: [ -> ]Yes I'm aware that devotion to Saint Joseph is a relatively late phenomenon. It just seemed strange that no parallel development took place in the East.

I suppose I do have a gift for pointing out the obvious. Anyway, I was mostly unaware of the view of St. Joseph as a contemplative. Now that you point it out, it does seem somewhat strange that it never caught on in the East. It's just a guess, but I wonder if there might be some connection with the lay mysticism that developed in the Late Middle Ages. But, yes, I doubt it is just one of those things.
(11-19-2012, 09:55 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-19-2012, 08:11 PM)FleetingShadow Wrote: [ -> ]Yes I'm aware that devotion to Saint Joseph is a relatively late phenomenon. It just seemed strange that no parallel development took place in the East.

I suppose I do have a gift for pointing out the obvious.

Not at all. I only learned about the history relatively recently.

Another thought: Could it be due to the exalted role of the Holy Spirit in the Eastern tradition? Being so intimate with the Theotokos, perhaps the Third Person of the Trinity rather displaces Joseph in the imagination of the faithful!
(11-19-2012, 09:13 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: [ -> ]The Copts actually have had a measure of popular devotion to St. Joseph going back to late antiquity.  It mostly centered on pilgrimages to holy places in Egypt where St. Joseph was believed to have taken the Holy Family during the Flight.  But like in earlier times in the West, St. John the Baptist tends to occupy the "second place" after the Virgin (cf. the Forerunner's place in the Confiteor, whereas St. Joseph is absent), given both his prominence in the Scriptures and as a model for the monastic life, which is so dear to the Coptic tradition.

That's intriguing. Do you happen to know any specifics about this or where I could look into it (bear in mind I'm no linguist!)?
Clear Creek Monastery has an icon of St. Joseph. http://www.clearcreekmonks.org/_product/...brown.html
(11-20-2012, 05:43 PM)FleetingShadow Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-19-2012, 09:13 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: [ -> ]The Copts actually have had a measure of popular devotion to St. Joseph going back to late antiquity.  It mostly centered on pilgrimages to holy places in Egypt where St. Joseph was believed to have taken the Holy Family during the Flight.  But like in earlier times in the West, St. John the Baptist tends to occupy the "second place" after the Virgin (cf. the Forerunner's place in the Confiteor, whereas St. Joseph is absent), given both his prominence in the Scriptures and as a model for the monastic life, which is so dear to the Coptic tradition.

That's intriguing. Do you happen to know any specifics about this or where I could look into it (bear in mind I'm no linguist!)?

I don't have any references at hand, but I'll try to find them.
Thanks!
Pages: 1 2