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JLHPROF

Mary, the Mother of Christ

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The December Ensign states concerning Mary that "To the world, she was a simple peasant girl."

I know the apocryphal texts are precisely that - apocryphal.

But for all our Hebrew and NT scholars is there any evidence to support this description?  I  was always under the impression that Mary both before marriage and after marrying Joseph was not a peasant at all.  I've heard phrases like Royal Blood, lineage of David, service in the temple, and more.

So scholars and others who may know - was Mary actually a "peasant girl"?

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A person with royal blood are any lineage can be a poor peasant.  "Peasant" describes financial state only. 

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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

The December Ensign states concerning Mary that "To the world, she was a simple peasant girl."

I know the apocryphal texts are precisely that - apocryphal.

But for all our Hebrew and NT scholars is there any evidence to support this description?  I  was always under the impression that Mary both before marriage and after marrying Joseph was not a peasant at all.  I've heard phrases like Royal Blood, lineage of David, service in the temple, and more.

So scholars and others who may know - was Mary actually a "peasant girl"?

She was a commoner. This doesn't mean that she was deprived in any way. Joseph probably had decent work as a carpenter. The nearby city of Sepphoris was the "happening" place in the whole vicinity, and some Roman money was pouring into building it. So, I'm sure she did not want for food nor was ever a beggar, and Joseph probably received decent earnings as a carpenter, so had enough to raise a family. However, we really know nothing about her before she married Yosef, so can't really say. Most of the rich Jews of that day probably lived in Jerusalem. Many of the Levites were rich. Some had their own private Mikvahs, and the like. Nevertheless, the area around Galilee was the "rich" part of the land. It grew the grapes, the olives and the grains in its valleys. Olives, esp, had always been a source of wealth, and the fish from Galilee were also sought after. The area around Galilee was by no means destitute as archaeology has shown. Most of the houses were well appointed for that time, and the people were probably as well off financially as commoners in the rest of the Roman Empire, if not better off. What made Yeshua poor is that he had little time to work during his ministry. Before that he probably supported his mother.

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Not much is known about Joseph either. Supposedly he was a carpenter or mason or builder of some sort. As such where would he had been on the social hierarchy? I'm thinking not the upper ranks. Not the desperately poor either. If I had to guess ,  he died a while before Jesus started his mission.

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6 minutes ago, strappinglad said:

Not much is known about Joseph either. Supposedly he was a carpenter or mason or builder of some sort. As such where would he had been on the social hierarchy? I'm thinking not the upper ranks. Not the desperately poor either. If I had to guess ,  he died a while before Jesus started his mission.

That's partly my question.

I really had the impression from everything that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were actually pretty well off.

37 minutes ago, RevTestament said:

Most of the rich Jews of that day probably lived in Jerusalem. Many of the Levites were rich. Some had their own private Mikvahs, and the like. Nevertheless, the area around Galilee was the "rich" part of the land. It grew the grapes, the olives and the grains in its valleys. Olives, esp, had always been a source of wealth, and the fish from Galilee were also sought after.

Well Zacharias was Mary's in-law through Elizabeth.  And the wedding feast at Cana.  And Christ may have also been a Rabbi and spent time teaching in the temple.

Quote

Joseph probably received decent earnings as a carpenter, so had enough to raise a family. However, we really know nothing about her before she married Yosef, so can't really say.

Do you put any stock in any of the apocryphal texts concerning Mary or Joseph?  Joachim and Anna, Joseph's age or status as a widower remarrying to Mary?

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Do you put any stock in any of the apocryphal texts concerning Mary or Joseph?  Joachim and Anna, Joseph's age or status as a widower remarrying to Mary?

I have not studied the Christian apocryphal texts terribly closely. From what I know of them though, they were all created late. They are not attested at all in the early patristic writings. They seem to be sourced from the fringes - the so called heretics pushed out of the Church or the gnostics. While they may provide some insights into the culture of the day, things written 200 or 300 years or so after the facts are usually not terribly reliable. The ones I have read just don't have the ring of truth to them. These are the types of works that Muhammed heard, and referenced in his Qu'ran. I suspect the ones about Joseph remarrying are to justify Mary being ever virgin while we know Yeshua had brothers. I don't find that supported by scripture. Luke says Joseph didn't know Mary until she had Yeshua. If they never consummated the union why would Luke say that? So, no, I put little stock in the apocryphal Christian texts. They seemed to pop up after Christianity became legal, and the "in" thing.

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There is some logic in Joseph being much older than Mary if he wasn't in the picture by the time Jesus was 30. Of course, he could have died in a construction accident or some disease but Jesus might have intervened if necessary.

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The scriptures are a blank page when it comes to Mary's parents.  We know nothing about her family circumstances. 

 

I wouldn't say Joseph & Mary lived "comfortably."  At the time of His birth, they were on the journey to Bethlehem ordered by Caesar Augustus.  The three wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Joseph was told to flee to Egypt with Mary and child because King Herod's order to kill all male infants under 2 years of age.  They did not return to Nazareth until death if Herod.  Not sure how long they were refugees in Egypt.  The gifts brought by 3 wise men were probably used to support them.  Joseph may have been able  to get some work as a carpenter in Egypt.  Finances probably got better on return to Nazareth.  Joseph had sons from previous marriage who probably helped out in carpenter shop.

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3 hours ago, AdultConvert said:

The scriptures are a blank page when it comes to Mary's parents.  We know nothing about her family circumstances. 

 

I wouldn't say Joseph & Mary lived "comfortably."  At the time of His birth, they were on the journey to Bethlehem ordered by Caesar Augustus.  The three wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Joseph was told to flee to Egypt with Mary and child because King Herod's order to kill all male infants under 2 years of age.  They did not return to Nazareth until death if Herod.  Not sure how long they were refugees in Egypt.  The gifts brought by 3 wise men were probably used to support them.  Joseph may have been able  to get some work as a carpenter in Egypt.  Finances probably got better on return to Nazareth.  Joseph had sons from previous marriage who probably helped out in carpenter shop.

It's important to remember that canonical scripture is not the only potential source of information.

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Mary was a child, then a woman, in a society that considered her as no more than real property.   She COULD have been sold into slavery at any time as a child.  As a woman she would not have been deemed worthy to so much as leave the house except on a need-to basis.  She would not have been educated in any manner.  She would not have been literate. 

 

Whether her family was wealthy or not, her being female in that culture at that time would have made her at best a peasant.  

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1 hour ago, The Mean Farmer said:

Mary was a child, then a woman, in a society that considered her as no more than real property.   She COULD have been sold into slavery at any time as a child.  As a woman she would not have been deemed worthy to so much as leave the house except on a need-to basis.  She would not have been educated in any manner.  She would not have been literate. 

 

Whether her family was wealthy or not, her being female in that culture at that time would have made her at best a peasant.  

Well isn't that just a lovely analysis of the Ensign's word choice...

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10 hours ago, Traela said:

This article https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/jerrybowyer/2018/09/04/jesus-was-a-highly-skilled-entrepreneur-not-a-poor-peasant-n2515627 argues that Joseph, and therefore Jesus, was a skilled artisan.  The family would have been considered well-off.  Not stinking rich, but definitely not poor, either.

We don't really know, but most scholars have him as a day laborer which were common at the time. Often they were still expected to have their own tools. The portrayal in the gospels, of who knows what accuracy, certainly seems to be of poverty.  The main argument for him being a day laborer, beyond the apparent poverty portrayal, are the parables that often involve day laborers or similar practices. The Greek term tekton is pretty ambiguous and refers to a pretty broad swath of practices and skills. Some argue Jesus was in the more skilled category but it's pretty hard to know for sure. At the time of his youth Herod was doing some big building projects at Sepphoris, largely rebuilding it. That was only four miles from Nazareth. There's an argument that given the paucity of trees in the area and the main building material being stone, that tekton more likely refers to him being a stone laborer rather than a carpenter/wood worker. Again whether he was a better paid skilled tradesman or a day laborer isn't clear.

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I disagree that she was a nothing, useful only as a slave.  She was humble, deeply spiritual, selected above all women to bear and raise the Only Begotten Son.  A special chosen vessel.  One with a special temperament to raise a child in righteousness, teaching the scriptures and how to pray.  How to love all people.  Christ wasn't born with all those qualities.  Compassion, teaching  Him who He really is and His mission on earth.  No other mother on earth has been called to do such an important work. 

Her cousin, Elizabeth, who bore and raised John the Baptist in her old age, was married to a Levite who performed priestly duties in the temple. These two women were not from ordinary families. Two deeply spiritual women selected to raise two babies to do the most important work on earth.  The forerunner of the gospel and our Savior had extraordinary mothers. 

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3 minutes ago, AdultConvert said:

I disagree that she was a nothing, useful only as a slave.  She was humble, deeply spiritual, selected above all women to bear and raise the Only Begotten Son.  A special chosen vessel.  One with a special temperament to raise a child in righteousness, teaching the scriptures and how to pray.  How to love all people.  Christ wasn't born with all those qualities.  Compassion, teaching  Him who He really is and His mission on earth.  No other mother on earth has been called to do such an important work. 

Her cousin, Elizabeth, who bore and raised John the Baptist in her old age, was married to a Levite who performed priestly duties in the temple. These two women were not from ordinary families. Two deeply spiritual women selected to raise two babies to do the most important work on earth.  The forerunner of the gospel and our Savior had extraordinary mothers. 

I didn't say she wasn't useful, or only a slave. 

The point, which I certainly didn't make clear, was that in spite the culture she lived in the Lord prepared a chosen vessel in her to bare and raise the Son of God in flesh.  Quite a number of other women of the day were prepared and used God to fulfill his purposes.     

Her culture said she was only useful in the home, kitchen, and laundry room.   Her God said otherwise.

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2 minutes ago, The Mean Farmer said:

 Her culture said she was only useful in the home, kitchen, and laundry room.   Her God said otherwise.

I don't know where you get that idea of women in Jewish culture.  Read Prov 28:10-28 and see what women are doing, way beyond mere household duties.

 

"She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant."

 

"She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." 

 

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." 

 

"She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." 

 

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13 minutes ago, AdultConvert said:

I don't know where you get that idea of women in Jewish culture.  Read Prov 28:10-28 and see what women are doing, way beyond mere household duties.

 

"She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant."

 

"She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." 

 

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." 

 

"She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." 

 

History compiled by people smarter than me.  

 

https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2015/christs-emancipation-of-women-in-the-new-testament

 

The entire speech is good, the book is good as well.   But read through Section I for starters.

 

 

 

I acknowledge that being smarter than me isn't hard, especially on this board.

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1 hour ago, AdultConvert said:

I don't know where you get that idea of women in Jewish culture.  Read Prov 28:10-28 and see what women are doing, way beyond mere household duties.

 

"She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant."

 

"She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard." 

 

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." 

 

"She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." 

 

I think you are both right. Women's cultural roles are not stagnant--they are dynamic, then and now. Consider the women of Iran before 1979 and compare it to now. Drastically different. I think the same can be said of women in "Jewish culture" because Jewish culture varies greatly.

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On 11/18/2018 at 7:31 PM, JLHPROF said:

..............I really had the impression from everything that Mary, Joseph and Jesus were actually pretty well off.

We all see what we want to see.  For Garner Ted Armstrong, Jesus was a well-to-do businessman, a contractor, who was clean-shaven, wore his hair short in Roman style, and also wore a toga.  Many Americans and Europeans see Jesus as a sniveling and weak-sister with an Anglo-Saxon face.

On 11/18/2018 at 7:31 PM, JLHPROF said:

Well Zacharias was Mary's in-law through Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was a cousin to Mary, so very likely of the house of Judah, while Zacharias was a kohen (high priest) of the tribe of Levi.

On 11/18/2018 at 7:31 PM, JLHPROF said:

 And the wedding feast at Cana.  And Christ may have also been a Rabbi and spent time teaching in the temple..........................

He was certainly a rabbi.  But who trained him?

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12 hours ago, The Mean Farmer said:

Her culture said she was only useful in the home, kitchen, and laundry room.   Her God said otherwise.

Women in the Greco-Roman world (and yes, Judea and Galilee were very much part of the Greco-Roman world) routinely wielded political influence, had client-patron bases, ran charities and businesses, and acted as faith and community leaders. Good examples of this in the New Testament include Dorcas, Priscilla, Phoebe, Martha and Mary.

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On 11/18/2018 at 6:06 PM, JLHPROF said:

The December Ensign states concerning Mary that "To the world, she was a simple peasant girl."

The Religion 430-431 - Doctrine of the Gospel Student Manual says, “That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of
Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and,
the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure through mortal maternity, was of
right to be called the Son of the Highest
” (p. 9).

What does it mean 'not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof' mean?

Thanks,
Jim
 

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1 hour ago, theplains said:

What does it mean 'not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof' mean?

Thanks,
Jim
 

Many people have speculated on that in the last 188 years: Did Elohim have sex with Mary? was she artificially inseminated? or.....?

The only thing we know for sure is Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

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5 hours ago, theplains said:

What does it mean 'not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof' mean?

Thanks,
Jim
 

Exactly what you think it means.  

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16 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Exactly what you think it means.  

See, it's things like this that should help Mormons understand why mainstream Christians are scandalized at LDS doctrines and have a hard time saying that Mormonism is able to fit within Christianity.

The belief that God the Father had sex with Mary shows how far apart the LDS understanding of God and Jesus is from Christianity.

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