An Introduction to the Other Person in the Picture: St. Joseph in Christian Art

This is a transcript of the first part of a six part lecture series of The Other Person in the Picture published from YouTube in 2015.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way: when his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just as he resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.  And the angel said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.  For the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  And when Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.  Joseph took his wife, but knew her not until she had born a son, and Joseph named him Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew 1:18-22

So writes Matthew, in the first chapter of his first century Gospel about Jesus of Nazareth, leaving no question Mary’s real earthly husband and Jesus his real earthly father.  Clear as it is in Matthew as well as the other early Christian Gospels of Luke and John that Joseph was the real earthly father of Jesus.  Not all comprehended the importance and significance of Joseph.  In fact, it is the case that in the history of Christianity, that Christians have perceived Joseph in very different ways.  Some Christians as we have seen in various images thus far, have recognized the significance of Joseph and seen him in a very positive light.  Relying upon the testimony of the earliest Christian Gospels, they emphasize the importance of his position in the Holy Family.  Others in contrast, under the influence of other later texts and ideas, have distorted these earliest the Gospel accounts as we will discover in later lectures of this series. 

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