Were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Arabs or Arab Jews?


My Muslim friend said they were Arabs. Were Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Arabs or Arab Jews? What’s the best way to respond? Can anyone please send me a good web link?



As a general introduction. You can follow the various footnotes for more information.

Basically, Arabs didn’t exist until after Christ died.


Not that it matters to me, obviously, but I’d ask him for the relevant passage from the Qur’an.


Both good posts… thank you.


As has been stated, Arabs didn’t exist in the time of Christ, so it is literally impossible for them to have been Arab. That said, it is possible (I’d think it fairly likely), that they were what we call Middle Eastern, and that their complexion and physical attributes were similar to modern Arabs.


If modern-day Arabs were so eager to claim the Holy Family as their own, one would think they’d show more respect to their spiritual descendants.


Jesus was Hebrew from the tribe of Judah.



If that’s the case, then why does the Book of Acts (written about 50 years after Jesus) specifically mention Arabs at being present on Pentecost?

Generally speaking, though, the meaning is that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have looked more like modern day Arabs than even modern day Jews (as many Jews, after being kicked out of the Holy Land, intermingled with the general population groups). The Jews of Jesus’s time and Arabs are very closely related ethnically.


They were not Arabs, they were Hebrews.


[FONT=Georgia]11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God

[/FONT] Acts 2:11 RSV-CE

In other translations it would seem that “Arabs” is short for “Arabians” which I think probably refers to what is now the Arabian peninsula.


I believe Joseph and Mary were Semitic in ethnicity and language this equals-of course the Christ is different -presumably Mary’s DNA but the rest Divine DNA (whatever that is)

Today, the word “Semite” may be used to refer to any member of any of a number of peoples of ancient Middle East including the Akkadians, Assyrians, Arameans, Phoenicians, Hebrews (Jews), Arabs, and their descendants.[2]


Hi there,

First of all, the reason for such a discussion from your muslim friend should be made clear.

Secondly, educate yourself on the matter. I can tell you a lot myself on this because my parents were born in Lebanon, a tiny neighbour of Israel.
To get straight to the point, your friend is confused and my best guess is that he believes this because the majority of people living today in the West Bank, i.e. where Nazereth is, consider themselves Arabs. This is what leads many people with little education of history to make incorrect claims.

These Arabs didn’t exist anywhere in Israel until in the 7th Century AD Muslim armies, who hailed from Arabia (today Saudi Arabia) conquered and spread their culture and language across most of the Middle East.

You should also know that many people in the Levant (i.e. modern Israel, Syria, Lebanon) of Jesus’ days on Earth spoke either Aramaic or Greek, which are highly likely languages that the people of Nazareth had spoken, and would never had heard Arabic as it most likely hadn’t existed yet as a language.


I could be wrong (it won’t be the first time, but it might be the second), but I thought the Arabs trace their lineage to Ishmael and the Holy Family to Isaac.


Wiser words have not been said. :thumbsup:



If your friend is from Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Arab peninsula, it’s possible that he may also believe that many of the things that happened in Israel, actually happened in Saudi Arabia. There is some conspiracy theory along the line that Jewish people wanted to steal Arab famous people, so they lied in the Bible about the location of events (which some people actually believe, basically out of local pride). Since various Arab holy men with tombs in Arabia shared names with Biblical characters, this is taken as “evidence.” (I wouldn’t bring this up if you don’t think this is his viewpoint, but I thought I might mention this in case he’s said anything puzzling.)

However, Ishmael really is supposed to be the ancestor of the Arabs.

St. Simeon Stylites was very popular with the wandering Arabs of his day, and we know a fair bit about pre-Islamic Jewish and Christian Arabs from his life and from other Greek, Roman, and Byzantine sources.


How do you know? Arab is an ethnicity that has existed for thousands of years, and even in Ancient Egypt before Islam, some traders spoke Arabic.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.