Poll: Do you think Joseph was an old man or a young man when espoused to Our Lady? Do you prefer art that shows St. Joseph as older or younger?
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Old Joseph vs. Young Joseph?
#11
I think the 30ish Joseph is probably the most accurate as it makes the most sense to me.  Whether he was a widower with other children or not, I am not sure.  I have long pondered the infancy narratives in the Gospels, like for instance I like to think Joseph was an itinerant carpenter or laborer that worked in Sepphoris (a nearby city destroyed by the Romans and being rebuilt on a grand scale, only a few miles from Nazareth, indeed a very Romanized town) and perhaps went back to Bethlehem during low times (granted the inn being full doesn't suggest that as surely he would have stayed with family) or part of a trip to Jerusalem even.  I do think Luke conflated events namely with the particularly tax census of Augustus (it could be another  lesser census or a regional one, but I don't think he used it for an exact year), I think there was another reason for the trip to Bethlehem, namely business whether to pay existing tax on land (whether the Augustus tax or not) or claim an inheritance or resolve a dispute.  I think the return to Bethlehem was also an act of providence.  One does not just pick up everything and go to Egypt.  You have to find a group, pay for food, etc.  I think Joseph sold his property in Bethlehem and used that money for the flight into Egypt and the return.  Which is why Bethlehem isn't mentioned again in the Gospels despite Jesus regularly traversing the surrounding towns, but never stopping in.  Of course this is all my idle speculation that means nothing.   
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#12
As a child, I always assumed he was a young man, and then my grandmother, complaining about people who disparages Out Lady's perpetual virginity, said it was disgraceful that people would thing that "old Joseph" would be interested in such things.  This was the first I heard about his possibly being an old man.  Apparently, as has been mentioned, the idea comes from apocryphal Gospels. Canonical Scriptures say nothing about it.  I still think he was a young man and that the "brothers of the Lord" were cousins rather than older sons of Joseph.  The Protoevangelion of James has never impressed me, despite the fact that many of our Byzantine Rite feast days  are drawn from it. 
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#13
(04-07-2014, 03:33 PM)spasiisochrani Wrote: As a child, I always assumed he was a young man, and then my grandmother, complaining about people who disparages Out Lady's perpetual virginity, said it was disgraceful that people would thing that "old Joseph" would be interested in such things.  This was the first I heard about his possibly being an old man.   Apparently, as has been mentioned, the idea comes from apocryphal Gospels. Canonical Scriptures say nothing about it.   I still think he was a young man and that the "brothers of the Lord" were cousins rather than older sons of Joseph.  The Protoevangelion of James has never impressed me, despite the fact that many of our Byzantine Rite feast days  are drawn from it. 

This. I always imagined a "young Joseph" - until pious, well-meaning people told me otherwise. According to this article on EWTN by Fr. Michael D. Griffin, O.C.D.:

Quote: It is interesting to note that the earliest known paintings or pieces of sculpture in the catacombs show Joseph as a young man, probably no more than twenty-five years old. This trend continued until the fourth century. But from that time almost to modern times, Mary's husband is pictured as a man of advanced years. This raises the interesting question of why Joseph suddenly became an octogenarian in Christian art. There can be no doubt but that the change was deliberately introduced. In the fourth century the perpetual virginity of Mary was under attack, and by way of implication it was asserted that Joseph was the natural father of Christ. This claim was a serious distortion of divine revelation and was promptly refuted by the bishops of those times. History tells us that heresies die slowly and there follows a period of time in which there is a danger that the false doctrine will reappear. Hence the artists of the times were convinced that it was not advisable to depict Joseph as a young man for fear that the faithful would imagine him to be the natural father of Christ. Portraying him as a very old man, they thought, was the best way of upholding belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary and Joseph. This trend continued well into the twentieth century.

Take it for what it's worth. Just another explanation. But I can't imagine a 90 year old man being a protector of a young wife and child, or a carpenter, or managing a midnight flight to Egypt. Of course Abraham did some amazing things in his old age, so I'm not a total scoffer.
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#14


FYI, on "the brothers of Jesus," see this page under the section "Ever-Virgin":  http://www.fisheaters.com/mary.html

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