Author: Charles L. Souvay - Catholic.com 

Joseph, Saint, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The chief sources of information on the life of St. Joseph are the first chapters of our first and third Gospels; they are practically also the only reliable sources, for, whilst, on the holy patriarch’s life, as on many other points connected with the Savior’s history which were left untouched by the canonical writings, the apocryphal literature is full of details, the non-admittance of these works into the Canon of the Sacred Books casts a strong suspicion upon their contents; and, even granted that some of the facts recorded by them may be founded on trustworthy traditions, it is in most instances next to impossible to discern and sift these particles of true history from the fancies with which they are associated.

 

Among these apocryphal productions dealing more or less extensively with some episodes of St. Joseph‘s life may be noted the so-called “Gospel of James”, the “Pseudo-Matthew”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary”, the “Story of Joseph the Carpenter” (in Tischendorf, “Evangelia Apocrypha“, Leipzig, 1876), and the “Life of the Virgin and Death of Joseph” (in Robinson, “Coptic Apocryphal Gospels”, Cambridge, 1896). St. Matthew (i, 16) calls St. Joseph the son of Jacob; according to St. Luke (iii, 23), Hell was his father. This is not the place to recite the many and most various endeavors to solve the vexing questions arising from the divergences between both genealogies; nor is it necessary to point out the explanation which meets best all the requirements of the problem (see Genealogy of Christ); suffice it to remind the reader that, contrary to what was once advocated, most modern writers readily admit that in both documents we possess the genealogy of Joseph, and that it is quite possible to reconcile their data. At any rate, Bethlehem, the city of David and his descendants, appears to have been the birth-place of Joseph. When, however, the Gospel history opens, namely, a few months before the Annunciation, Joseph was settled at Nazareth. Why and when he forsook his home-place to betake himself to Galilee is not ascertained; some suppose—and the supposition is by no means improbable—that the then moderate circumstances of the family and the necessity of earning a living may have brought about the change.  continue reading...

 

Recommended Reading

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“A TREMENDOUS BREAKTHROUGH” in the study of St. Joseph...

...There are few subjects so challenging” to authors as St. Joseph. So says scholar Scott Hahn in his foreword to this book. Yet the pages that follow give not merely glimpses, but vistas, of St. Joseph’s world. Hahn continues: “You’ll learn about Nazareth — and how it was created almost ex nihilo shortly before Joseph’s birth. You’ll learn about religious practice and education in that place and time. You’ll travel to Egypt and encounter the fascinating settlements of Jews in that land. You’ll also find out how a carpenter worked in those days: what tools he used, what items he crafted, where he got his training, and how he got to and from his job sites.” This book provides an imaginative entry into one of the most important lives in all of history — a life too often obscured by later legends. "