Kolum: Old Joseph, 90 and Child Mary, 12 | Tawid News Magazine - Weekly Ilocos News 📰
imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Old Joseph, 90 and Child Mary, 12

We were taught in elementary that Mary was the mother of Jesus and that Joseph was Mary’s husband. I remember acting as a cynical innkeeper in one of those Christmas programs.

We also had religion teachers, then, and they kept on telling and retelling the story of Joseph and Mary and how Jesus was born.

But the story stopped there, fellas.

Life kept on rolling. Seasons came and went until we found time to unravel the hidden story of Old Joseph and Child Mary.

De Robigne Mortimer Bennett says that the book ‘History of Joseph the Carpenter,’ was believed genuine by Early Evangelical Church. Not just that, he also mentions when Joseph married Mary, she was 12 years old and he was 90 years old. At the end of his statement on ‘History of Joseph the Carpenter,’ he states, “These statements should undoubtedly be taken with many grains of allowance.” Here, he himself agrees that the statements where it mentions that Joseph was 90 years old when he married 12 year old Mary is true, and should be accepted.

Bernard L. Fontana also mentions that Mary was 12 years old and Joseph 90 years old when married:

“Thanks to the Apocrypha writings, which inspired many artists over the ages, the popular belief became widespread that Joseph had first married when he was forty years old and fathered six children by his wife before she died when he was 89 years old. The youngest of his child was said to be James the Less, ‘Christ’s brother.’ This tradition holds that Joseph was ninety years old when he went to Jerusalem to join other candidates seeking the hand of the twelve to fourteen-year old Mary in marriage.”

One must remember in Ancient Israelite times once a girl was betrothed, sexual intimacy was allowed, there was no law against that, nor does the Bible say anything against it. So, for Mary to be betrothed, it did not mean that Joseph and Mary could not get intimate.

Bennett says: “The following ‘Facts about Virgin Mary’ are taken from one of the Apocryphal gospels- the ‘History of Joseph the Carpenter.’ Joseph was a widower with four sons and two daughters, all married but James and Judas. Joseph was a Priest as well as a carpenter, but lived mostly by the latter trade. Mary had been brought up in the temple ‘til she was twelve years old, when the priests sought to entrust her to the care of a pious old man who wanted a wife. So they assembled twelve old men, who raffled for Mary. The carpenter won and was betrothed to her at once, the marriage to be postponed until she reached a suitable age. But he took her to his house and kept her two years, when she became a mother by the Holy Ghost.

When Joseph discovered the condition Mary was in, he became sorely troubled and could not eat or drink for a whole day. He thought of hushing up the scandal by putting her away secretly. (It is not said whether he suspected his son James, who was most tenderly attached to his prospective step-mother). When she first came, she found him broken-hearted at the recent loss of his own mother, but the advent of a lovely maiden, who, though some years his junior, assumed the relations of a mother to him, soon assuaged his grief and she, caring for him as a loving step-mother knows how, became known as ‘the mother of James,’ even before she became a wife to his father)

Joseph was not long left to remain in trouble about the condition of Mary. In the midst of his distress he fell asleep at noonday, and had a dream, in which Gabriel appeared to him and explained the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. That was enough; happiness was restored. The angelic friend had tied up the storm. The far-off magi made haste to welcome the new-born king of the Jews. But the wicked Herod was wroth with them for not telling where the infant was, so he might go and worship him also. Jesus grew up and worked with his reputed father Joseph at the Carpenter trade and lived in sweet accord with his two half-brothers, until the death of their father Joseph, who lived to the ripe age of 111 years. These statements should undoubtedly be taken with many grains of allowance.”

The very advanced age of Joseph, marrying Mary, was true and accepted by most early Church Fathers. Reverend Jeremiah Jones writes about 2 to 3 pages long that Infancy Protevangelion of James was accepted by Early Church Fathers as truthful account of Mary and Joseph’s marriage. If one reads the Infancy Gospel of James (Protevangelion of James), in Chapter 8 it says that Mary was married to Joseph when she was 12 years old.

“…His eldest son was James, surnamed Oblias—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. Besides Epiphanius, several other of the Greek fathers have given into this same opinion like Hilary, Chrysostome, Cyrill, Euthyymius, Theophylact, Cecumenius, and generally, as bishop Peaterson says: ‘all Latin fathers till Ambrose, and the Greeks afterward; from which it is very evident that the account of Joseph’s age and family, which is in the Gospel of the Birth Mary, and the Protevangelion of James, met with very general credit among ancient Christians.”

(To be continued)