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Old Joseph, 90 and Child Mary, 12

In My Eyes
By Edward Antonio
(Part II)

Other researchers thought Joseph was indeed a very old man when he married Mary at 12 years old.

Charles Burlingame Waite, a United States lawyer and a jurist, also cites Epiphanies that Joseph was 80 years old when he married Mary:

“Joseph was very old when he married Mary, and had been many years a widower; that he was the brother of Clophas, the son of James, surnamed Panther; that he had his first wife of the tribe of Judah, and by her six children, to wit, four sons and two daughters. His eldest son was James, surnamed Oblias, (this probably taken from Eusebius, Ecc, Hist. 2. 23), that he begat him when he was about forty years old; after him he had another son named Jose, then Simeon and Judas, and then his two daughters Mary and Salome: after his wife’s death, he continued many years a widower, and about fourscore years old, married Mary.”- Epiph. Haeres. 78, 8.

These findings were corroborated by the Catholic Encyclopedia which says: “When forty years of age, Joseph married a woman called Melcha or Escha by some, Salome by others; they lived forty-nine years together and had six children, two daughters and four sons, the youngest of whom was James (the Less, “the Lord’s brother”). A year after his wife’s death, as the priests announced through Judea that they wished to find in the tribe of Judah a respectable man to espouse Mary, then twelve to fourteen years of age. Joseph, who was at the time ninety years old, went up to Jerusalem among the candidates; a miracle manifested the choice God had made of Joseph, and two years later the Annunciation took place.”

One thing needs to be remembered, although they say that she was 12 years old when she was betrothed to 90 year old Joseph, most Christians of today reject this story, because Joseph would be labeled a ‘pedophile’.

But did Mary remain a virgin all her life?

Christians might say that she stayed virgin whole her life and it is insignificant if Joseph was an old man or not. But that is not correct, if we read Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1 verse 25 it clearly says that Joseph had sexual intimacy with Mary after Jesus was born. “But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. – Matthew 1:25”

Matthew stated that Joseph had no sexual relations with Mary ‘until she gave birth to a son. This tells us that after Jesus birth, Joseph and Mary had a normal sexual relationship like any other couple. The point needs to be made that there was nothing unholy about Mary and Joseph having sex. How could there be? Marriage was designed by God, with sex as one of its blessings. It must be remembered that Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married. Like any engaged couple, they may have discussed, among other matters, having children. Such a discussion would not have been unholy. Sex within the bounds of marriage has the endorsement of God. The notion of marriage without sex is the opposite of what scriptures teach: ‘Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral’ (Hebrews 13:4).

American New Testament scholar Ben Witherinton III says: “Matthew 1:25 has caused no end of theological debate over the centuries. Joseph is said to ‘take’ his wife, ‘but he was not knowing her until she gave birth to a son.’ This seems to reinforce what was said in Matthew 1:18 and implies that Joseph abstained from sexual intercourse with Mary until Jesus was born. The verb here ‘he was not knowing’ (eginosken) is in the imperfect and stresses a specific period of time after which he was ‘knowing’ her in the biblical sense of sexual intercourse. As Matthew 17:9 and its similar construction show, a negative statement followed by ‘until which time’ always implies that the negated action will take place after the allotted time (indicated by the participle) is up. The end of the time is indicated by the aorist verb ‘gave birth’ (eteken). Therefore, it is most likely that this verse rules out the idea of Mary’s perpetual Virginity being part of Matthew’s theology.”

Phil Moore explains: “Some Christian traditions see Mary as a ‘perpetual virgin’ who never had sex with Joseph. I find this impossible to reconcile with the straightforward teaching of Matthew 1:25; 12:46; 13:55.”

The NIV Application Commentary by Matthew J. Wilkins also agrees that the verse in Matthew 1:25 is talking about sexual intercourse taking place after Jesus’s birth.

“… (1:25). The delicate way of Matthew phrases this expression (lit., ‘he was not knowing her’) was a common way of referring to abstaining from sexual intercourse in both Hebrew and Greek. Sexual abstinence maintained Joseph and Mary’s ritual purification the pregnancy as well as ensured that Jesus was virgin-born. But this is not a hint of continued celibacy after Jesus birth. The word ‘until’ most naturally means that Mary and Joseph had normal marital sexual relations after Jesus birth, from which other children were born.”

As I said, Biblical controversies can only produce more questions than answers. People keep on asking questions and church scholars never satisfy them. There are always those who refute findings and interpretations.
That’s the right of everyone, fellas.

Sometimes, religion issues bring out the best and the worst in people.#

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