Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea

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davidlau17
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Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea

Post by davidlau17 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:56 am

Before I get started, I'll give a quick rational for identifying the more famous of the Josephs as 'Joseph of Nazareth'. Basically, I didn't know what else to call him. Leaving Apocrypha aside, it's left somewhat ambiguous if he actually fathered Jesus or any of his brothers/half-brothers/cousins (i.e. 'Joseph, probably the legal-father of Jesus'). Similarly ambiguous is Joseph's place of birth - Luke tells us he was born in Bethlehem, but this appears to be written simply for the purpose of fulfilling a prophecy. As for Joseph's marital status, critics ranging from Celsus to the Eastern Orthodox Church actually claim that he never tied the knot with Mary; he was simply betrothed to her. His profession? Throughout the NT, he is referred to as a carpenter only once (Matthew 6:3). Joseph's residence in Nazareth is likely the most agreed upon thing we can say about him... though admittedly, the legitimacy of the town's name is in question (likewise for Arimathea, ironically enough).

For the sake of clarity, from this point forward, I'll refer to that Joseph as 'Saint Joseph' whenever a distinction is required. Otherwise, he'll simply be referred to as 'Joseph'.

It is commonly believed that Joseph was Jesus' legal-father. As his legal-father, Jewish custom would have obligated him to take charge of Jesus' body after crucifixion. This role is instead performed by Joseph of Arimathea, a character otherwise left unmentioned in the Gospels - one who curiously shares the same namesake.

It is taken for granted that these two Josephs are indeed two Josephs - entirely different people. Do we have good reason for this ubiquitous assumption? Well unlike Saint Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea is given a surname to help differentiate him. Additionally, while Saint Joseph is described as a carpenter, Joseph of Arimathea is described as a rich member of the Sanhedrin. Saint Joseph resided in Nazareth (at some point anyway) while Joseph of Arimathea obviously hails from a place called Arimathea.

Given the aforementioned, the burden of proof would lie on the one arguing in favor of identifying these two, rather than the one who differentiates them. Thus, until this point, I have ignored the coincidence of a Joseph of Arimathea burying the son of another Joseph, and accepted their distinction.

The Syriac Book of the Cave of Treasures (BCT) might reveal them to be the same individual - albeit, unintentionally so. You can read this document here: https://rejectedscriptures.weebly.com/b ... sures.html. In it, Joseph of Arimathea is presented as being the brother of Cleopas whom Hegesippus attests was the brother of Saint Joseph. Oddly enough, Nicodemus is also listed as Joseph of Arimathea and Cleopas' brother. Additionally, the BCT claims that Joseph of Arimathea acquired the tomb used for Jesus' burial from a cousin named Phinehas. In a genealogy presented earlier in the document, nearly identical to the one in Luke but with the names of wives and the wives' fathers, Saint Joseph's grandfather is listed as "Phinehas"; considering the widespread practice of patrimony in Judea during the Second Temple Period, Saint Joseph, similar to Joseph of Arimathea, likely would have had a cousin named Phinehas.

The tomb itself is said to have originally been intended for Joshua son of Nun, but this cannot have been the case. Joshua (read Jesus in Greek) son of Nun was a personage from 13th century BC. His bones would had long since turned to dust. Unless Joseph poured his funds into the construction of a purely symbolic tomb, a man named Jesus (not actually the son of Nun) was probably meant to be buried in it.

One might argue that if Joseph of Arimathea was meant to be Saint Joseph, why identify him in such an obscure manner? Why not mention that he was the one betrothed to Mary? Well, for starters, no father of Jesus, let alone one named Joseph, is ever mentioned in Mark, the Gospel in which Joseph of Arimathea is introduced (or more specifically, pops out of nowhere). But the answer to this may be even more simple. After Jesus rebukes his family, no family member is explicitly identified as such in the Synoptics. In the few moments that they are mentioned, they are either: a.) Not identified by name (i.e. his mother, his brothers), or b.) Identified by name, but with a deceptively vague surname (i.e. Mary, mother of James and Joses; Mary of Clopas; James of Alphaeus; Judas of James).

To summarize, from all this, we can garner that:
  • Joseph was the legal-father of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea provided the burial for Jesus.
  • Joseph had a brother named Cleopas. Joseph of Arimathea had a brother named Cleopas.
  • Joseph of Arimathea had a cousin named Phinehas. Joseph had a grandfather named Phinehas (dramatically increasing his own likelihood of having a cousin named Phinehas).
  • The tomb was built for a man named Jesus - indicating Joseph had already intended to bury Jesus here.
  • Joseph of Arimathea is given the same treatment as Mary, the mother of James and Joses at the crucifixion (i.e. a name of Jesus' parent + an elusive, worthless identifier).
I suppose if I were to identify Joseph with Joseph of Arimathea, I would be hinging on traditions provided in the Book of the Cave of Treasures as my source for evidence - a piece of Apocrypha traditionally dated to the fourth century CE, though many scholars argue for a later date. There's no doubt in my mind that much of the document's content is nonsense. However, its assertion that Joseph of Arimathea was the brother of Cleopas, without ever identifying him to be Saint Joseph (indicating no dependence on Hegesippus or Epiphanius), leads me to suspect there are some grains of truth to be found in it.
I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. - Hans Eysenck

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:14 pm

davidlau17 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:56 am
I suppose if I were to identify Joseph with Joseph of Arimathea, I would be hinging on traditions provided in the Book of the Cave of Treasures as my source for evidence - a piece of Apocrypha traditionally dated to the fourth century CE, though many scholars argue for a later date. There's no doubt in my mind that much of the document's content is nonsense. However, its assertion that Joseph of Arimathea was the brother of Cleopas, without ever identifying him to be Saint Joseph (indicating no dependence on Hegesippus or Epiphanius), leads me to suspect there are some grains of truth to be found in it.
Interesting take; thanks.

Alternate hypothesis: the author (or someone before him) heard or read that "Cleophas was the brother of Joseph," as Hegesippus puts it (according to Eusebius, History of the Church 3.11[.1]), but he misunderstood which Joseph was intended.

Also, I think we are probably meant to understand Joseph of Arimathea (Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας in Mark 15.43) as hailing from a town called Ramah ("height," Hebrew singular) or, more likely, either Ramoth ("heights," Hebrew plural) or Ramathaim ("heights," Hebrew dual); there were several towns by such names. 1 Samuel 1.1, for example, mentions Ramathaim-Zophim (הָרָמָתַ֛יִם צוֹפִ֖ים; Αρμαθαιμ Σιφα in 1 Kingdoms 1.1 OG). In 1 Samuel 1.19 it comes out as הָרָמָתָה (Αρμαθαιμ in 1 Kingdoms 1.3, 19 OG). Eusebius' entry for Ramathaim-Zophim in his Onomasticon goes as follows: "Armathem Seipha (Ἀρμαθὲμ Σειφά), city of Elkanah and Samuel. This one lies next to Diospolis, whence was Joseph, who in the gospels is written as from Arimathia (ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθίας)." In Joshua 20.8 OG we find Αρημωθ. Joshua 19.36 in Vaticanus has Αρμαιθ where in Alexandrinus we find Ραμα. Also related is the epistle of Demetrius to Lasthenes (1 Maccabees 11.32-37 = Josephus, Antiquities 13.4.9 §127-129a), which mentions the taking possession of the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin/Ramathain (Ραθαμιν in 1 Maccabees 11.34, but Ραμαθαιν in Antiquities 13.4.9 §127). Whether the initial Greek vowel (an alpha) shows up or not depends upon whether or not the Hebrew definite article is rendered into the Greek transliteration; for example, 1 Chronicles 4.21 mentions byssus (הַבֻּ֖ץ), a fine textile of some kind, and the Greek transliterates it, retaining the definite article as an initial alpha (αβακ).
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davidlau17
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Re: Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea

Post by davidlau17 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:44 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:14 pm
Interesting take; thanks.

Alternate hypothesis: the author (or someone before him) heard or read that "Cleophas was the brother of Joseph," as Hegesippus puts it (according to Eusebius, History of the Church 3.11[.1]), but he misunderstood which Joseph was intended.
That's definitely a possibility as well.
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:14 pm
Also, I think we are probably meant to understand Joseph of Arimathea (Ἰωσὴφ ὁ ἀπὸ Ἁριμαθαίας in Mark 15.43) as hailing from a town called Ramah ("height," Hebrew singular) or, more likely, either Ramoth ("heights," Hebrew plural) or Ramathaim ("heights," Hebrew dual); there were several towns by such names. 1 Samuel 1.1, for example, mentions Ramathaim-Zophim (הָרָמָתַ֛יִם צוֹפִ֖ים; Αρμαθαιμ Σιφα in 1 Kingdoms 1.1 OG). In 1 Samuel 1.19 it comes out as הָרָמָתָה (Αρμαθαιμ in 1 Kingdoms 1.3, 19 OG). Eusebius' entry for Ramathaim-Zophim in his Onomasticon goes as follows: "Armathem Seipha (Ἀρμαθὲμ Σειφά), city of Elkanah and Samuel. This one lies next to Diospolis, whence was Joseph, who in the gospels is written as from Arimathia (ἀπὸ Ἀριμαθίας)." In Joshua 20.8 OG we find Αρημωθ. Joshua 19.36 in Vaticanus has Αρμαιθ where in Alexandrinus we find Ραμα. Also related is the epistle of Demetrius to Lasthenes (1 Maccabees 11.32-37 = Josephus, Antiquities 13.4.9 §127-129a), which mentions the taking possession of the three districts of Aphairema, Lydda, and Rathamin/Ramathain (Ραθαμιν in 1 Maccabees 11.34, but Ραμαθαιν in Antiquities 13.4.9 §127). Whether the initial Greek vowel (an alpha) shows up or not depends upon whether or not the Hebrew definite article is rendered into the Greek transliteration; for example, 1 Chronicles 4.21 mentions byssus (הַבֻּ֖ץ), a fine textile of some kind, and the Greek transliterates it, retaining the definite article as an initial alpha (αβακ).
Thanks. Good info on "Arimathea"/Ramah/Ramathain. When Eusebius says "Diospolis", I'm presuming he means Lod/Lydda (renamed Diospolis under Severus, and it maintained that name into Eusebius' time). If so, this would point to Josephus' Ramathain/Ραμαθαιν as being the city in question.
I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. - Hans Eysenck

Giuseppe
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Re: Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:25 am

I know about another ethymology for Arimathea meaning: cemetery.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5157&p=98755&hilit=Cemetery#p98755

Hence the episode would betray a particular insistence on the fact that Jesus was really died and hence really buried.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

Al Franco
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Re: Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea

Post by Al Franco » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:42 am

I am a simple student of the Scriptures, I am Brazilian and my English is limited. I hope you can understand me.

I believe that Joseph of Arimathea and Joseph, Jesus foster father, are one and the same.

Is possible to Jesus and his father were Stone masons instead carpenters?

I think that was the reason the Jews were not surprised when Jesus said he would build the temple in three days.  Jesus spoke like stone mason several times. For exemple, when he mentioned the house being build on the rock.

  The Scripture says that Joseph of Arimathea dug the tomb in the rock, the tomb that Jesus was buried.  in Jewish tradition just the family could buries his own relatives.

The Bible says that Joseph, father of Jesus, was a righteous man.  The same is said of Joseph of Arimathea. Is to many coincidences.

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