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  #1  
Old Dec 14, '12, 3:27 pm
GangGreen GangGreen is offline
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Default Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

From what I always gathered, in Ancient Israel people typically got married at a young age. I cannot imagine that Joseph would have been in his 30s or 40s when he married Mary. I always pictured him as being in his early 20s or something yet most images depict him as being a much older man.
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  #2  
Old Dec 14, '12, 3:31 pm
ConstantineTG ConstantineTG is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Traditionally Joseph has always been believed to be an older man, a widower. The East has held on this tradition more and the notion of a younger Joseph was only introduced must later, I believe in the early Second Millennium.

Proof of this is the Protoevangelium of James, which is one of the most popular "Scriptures" of the time even though it never made it to the canon of Scripture. According to current evidence we have, it is the most widely circulated book of the New Testament of its time. It means that what is written is probably what is already generally believed by Christians of the time, also goes to show how early the reverence for Mary really began. So despite not making it to canon a couple of centuries later, it gives us a good view of what Christians of the time believed in.
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  #3  
Old Dec 14, '12, 3:47 pm
austenbosten austenbosten is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

I take the school of thought contrary to tradition (small-t not big-T). I take Joseph as being a young man. As young as Mary because he was a strong carpenter and fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

Also the old-age Joseph derives from the apocryphal Protoevangelium of Saint James.
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  #4  
Old Dec 14, '12, 5:10 pm
PaulWeb PaulWeb is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

We simply don't know for sure. Conjecture has it that St Joseph was older, thus not as interested in having sexual relations with Mary. However, some artists depict St Joseph as a young man, with carpenter tools and/or holding a lily. A trip to Egypt with a young wife and child could have been a hardship for an older man.

Perhaps we can ask him in heaven!!
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  #5  
Old Dec 14, '12, 5:32 pm
Immacolata Immacolata is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

As mentioned, we simply do not know exactly why he is depicted as an old men frequently. I assume to show that he, as an old man, would not be interested in sexual relations with the young Mary.

I, myself, have always pictured him to be in his early to mid-thirties when he was betrothed to Mary and Jesus was born.
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  #6  
Old Dec 14, '12, 6:11 pm
amsjj amsjj is offline
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Smile Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Hello,

from the tradition I grew up with, St Joseph was young and a virgin, so I always thought it odd he was portrayed old so often! Anyway this past thread may be of interest:

Help on Joseph and Mary --
http://forums.catholic.com/showthrea...48#post8680548

take care,
amsjj

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  #7  
Old Dec 14, '12, 7:29 pm
ConstantineTG ConstantineTG is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWeb View Post
We simply don't know for sure. Conjecture has it that St Joseph was older, thus not as interested in having sexual relations with Mary. However, some artists depict St Joseph as a young man, with carpenter tools and/or holding a lily. A trip to Egypt with a young wife and child could have been a hardship for an older man.

Perhaps we can ask him in heaven!!
Long trips were normative during the time. Old folks back then are probably stronger than the 20-somethings today who sit around all day posting on Forums

And it was not like Joseph was ancient. Some would put his age around late 40s to 50s. A lot of active 50-somethings today are very much able to do a lot of physical tasks.
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  #8  
Old Dec 14, '12, 8:54 pm
Eufrosnia Eufrosnia is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GangGreen View Post
From what I always gathered, in Ancient Israel people typically got married at a young age. I cannot imagine that Joseph would have been in his 30s or 40s when he married Mary. I always pictured him as being in his early 20s or something yet most images depict him as being a much older man.
It depends on the images honestly. I have a few that show him as a young man. My Holy Family statue (albeit designed recently) has a young Joseph too

It all depends on which tradition you accept. I believe one tradition states that St. Joseph was old and had already had a previous family. His wife had passed away and thus he took on the role of being a guardian toward the Blessed Virgin Mary. I assume the people of the time found this tradition an easy way to explain how St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother had no marital relations.

But again, it doesn't have to be that St. Joseph was old. There are traditions that portray St. Joseph as a young man. I too like this tradition better

So you are free to choose the one you feel comfortable!
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  #9  
Old Dec 14, '12, 9:16 pm
GEddie GEddie is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Males continue to develop muscular strength into their 40s, so a Joseph that old could easily have been a "strong carpenter".

The tradition of SJ's older age stems from the fact that he disappears from the Gospels, presumably into death, after our LORD is twelve years old. Were he a young man, his death would be noticeable to the gospel writers. SJ's passing going unmentioned suggests that by this point he is old.

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  #10  
Old Dec 15, '12, 7:35 am
Jessup Jessup is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

What I was taught in religious education classes in school is that women in Mary's time would have been 12 or 14 years old as a coming of age, when they where married off.
This is because once they matured they would have been target for rape and abuse.Thus needing an older husband that could provide and support family needs. Where the husband would have been in his late 20's early 30's
I think it is ridiculous though to see St. Joesph drawn as a deprecated old man,
I actually wanted to ask this myself after going to an adoration chapel and seeing a picture of St. Joe who made Gandolph look young and fit
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Old Dec 15, '12, 7:52 am
Hasire Hasire is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessup View Post
What I was taught in religious education classes in school is that women in Mary's time would have been 12 or 14 years old as a coming of age, when they where married off.
This is because once they matured they would have been target for rape and abuse.Thus needing an older husband that could provide and support family needs. Where the husband would have been in his late 20's early 30's
I think it is ridiculous though to see St. Joesph drawn as a deprecated old man,
I actually wanted to ask this myself after going to an adoration chapel and seeing a picture of St. Joe who made Gandolph look young and fit
Please, don't call ridiculous an Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Ancient Western tradition
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  #12  
Old Dec 15, '12, 12:07 pm
GEddie GEddie is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

The human body aged hard in that place and time; although our LORD was killed as a young man, at HIS age of 30-39 HE would already have outlived 90% of HIS age group.

So a 52 year old Joseph would have seemed old by modern standards.

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  #13  
Old Dec 15, '12, 12:30 pm
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Was he not chosen as an older man to protect her virginity & not to violate it?
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  #14  
Old Dec 15, '12, 12:39 pm
ConstantineTG ConstantineTG is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GEddie View Post
The human body aged hard in that place and time; although our LORD was killed as a young man, at HIS age of 30-39 HE would already have outlived 90% of HIS age group.

So a 52 year old Joseph would have seemed old by modern standards.

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I think this is a misrepresentation of the historical statistics. While the average age is indeed around 30-ish at the time, it is not because people die at that age. It is because of high infant mortality rates, many young men dying of plagues and war and other brutality of the time, etc. But people who live through these do live longer. There was hardly any air pollution, foods were not processed and contained no artificial ingredients as we have today, etc. Despite the lower standards of sanitation compared to today, people were more resistant to such conditions. St. Peter wasn't much younger than Jesus, yet he lived about 30 years more after the Resurrection, and only died because of martyrdom. St. John was about 11 or 12 at the start of Jesus' ministry, and he lived to the 90s, which is about 60 years later.
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Old Dec 15, '12, 2:42 pm
patrick457 patrick457 is offline
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Default Re: Why is Joseph always depicted as being old?

Just butting in. Tekton ('one who works with his hands') does not necessarily mean 'carpenter' as in 'woodworker', although that itself is also another old pious belief.
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