The ancient texts are always interesting, in part because you often discover that you’ve been reading them wrong.
… Luke attests that “every year [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover” (24:1)….. They were obviously a devout, Jewish family with the financial means to make the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, something few could afford.Bütz, Jeffery J. (:2005), The Brother of Jesus and the Lost teachings of Christianity, Inner Traditions, p. 53
It is a pretty obvious point when you think about it. Going from Nazareth to Jerusalem would have required some effort and funds. It was probably obtainable by a middle income worker and his family, but carpenters reportedly were not remunerated well.
Which lends some credence to the thinking that Joseph, Jesus’ father, was not a carpenter at all. The term, tekton, is used about Joseph in only one place in the Christian canonical gospels. It might refer to a carpenter, but it is a broad term, usually denoting a builder, stone mason, or even a field worker. Perhaps “craftsman” is a good translation.
It would make sense to think of Jesus’ father as a stone mason, simply because stone was the primary building material. Also, Herod’s pet city, Sepphoris, had explosive growth just a little ways away. It’s possible that tektons in Nazareth would never have made it there, which would be something about culture and walking.
I got this from UNC’s James Tabor, but it is probably something others noted.
Carpenters may have been lower status and impoverished. Stone masons weren’t usually. It was considered skilled labor.
It’s also noted that the underlying Aramaic word, which would have been translated “tekton” by the gospel writer, can even mean “scholar” or “learned man”.
Which opens up some thinking about Jesus that is different than I thought about the rabbi.
Image: Pammakaristos Church – main dome of parekklesion – Jesus Christ. Photo by Vmenkov (CC BY-SA 3). Via Wikimedia Commons.