Joseph’s Life Before Mary
Let’s look at a document called the Protoevangelium of James. This document dates from around 120 A.D.
And the priest said to Joseph, ‘You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the Virgin of the Lord.’ But Joseph refused, saying, ‘I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl’” ~ Protoevangelium of James, 120 A.D.
Right there in the Protoevangelium of James, a document from 120 A.D., we have an indication that Joseph was old when he married Mary (which helps explain why he isn’t mentioned during the years of Christ’s ministry, which occurred when Christ was in his early thirties and Joseph was probably dead of old age). But more importantly, we have indication that Joseph already had children when he married Mary!!! These children would have become the step-siblings of Jesus Christ, and they may be the “brothers” and “sisters” of Christ mentioned by Matthew and Mark.
The Protoevangelium of James give us reason to believe that Christ’s brothers were step-brothers, not biological brothers. It provides a clue in history, and the four “brothers” of Christ mentioned in Matthew 13 may very well fit that clue.
But another possibility (at least for two of those four “brothers”) is that they were close relatives of Jesus, maybe cousins. It was a cultural expression back then to refer to cousins as “brothers.” And in Chapter 27 Matthew provides a clue that two of these “brothers” (James and Joseph) may not have been Joseph’s sons from a previous marriage, but cousins to Jesus, completely unrelated to Joseph.
Let’s look at Matthew 13 (where James and Joseph are first mentioned) and then Matthew 27 (where they are further identified).
Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses [Joseph], and Simon, and Judas? ~ Matthew 13:55
We then see James and Joseph mentioned again as being the sons of another Mary.
They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses [Joseph], and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. ~ Matthew 27:55-56
This other Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, is mentioned again in the next chapter.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. ~ Matthew 27:61
There is Mary the mother of Jesus. There is Mary Magdalene. And there is this “other Mary,” who is the mother of James and Joseph. The “other Mary” is likely a relative of the Virgin Mary, making the sons of the “other Mary” the cousins of the son of the Virgin Mary.
Mary’s Life Before Joseph
“As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall minister to him in the holy things all the days of its life.” [those are the words of Anne, Mary’s mother] . . . And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there. ~ Protoevangelium of James, 120 A.D.
Mary was a consecrated virgin serving the High Priest in the Temple. These consecrated virgins are mentioned in the Book of 2 Maccabees.
And the virgins also that were shut up [in the Temple], came forth, some to Onias [the High Priest], and some to the walls, and others looked out of the windows. And all holding up their hands towards heaven, made supplication. ~ 2 Maccabees 3:19-20
2 Maccabees is one of seven books in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible, and the Orthodox Bible, but not the Protestant Bible. It is my opinion that these seven books belong in the Protestant Bible. These books were in the Septuagint, the Scriptures in use during the time of Jesus and the Apostles, and Jesus nor the Apostles spoke one word against these books. The Bible was canonized by the Catholic Church just before 400 A.D., and these books were included in that canonization. These books make reference to, and are referenced by, the books remaining in the Protestant Bible. These books are Biblically, prophetically, and historically accurate, and as such I support the fact that they were used by Jesus and the Apostles, and that they were canonized as Sacred Scripture, and that they remain so in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles to this day. I have read these books, and written much about them. I invite my dear Protestant brothers and sisters to check out the articles. Now back to the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.
As a consecrated virgin, Mary would have been abstinent her entire life.
Until She Gave Birth
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:24-25
Mary was a consecrated virgin, and she was abstinent her entire life. Joseph was assigned by God to care for her, part of the reason for which is that without a husband, she would have been an unwed pregnant woman– happily accepted in modern Western culture, but gravely proscribed in ancient Jewish culture.
But Matthew says they had no union until she gave birth to Jesus. Doesn’t this mean that they had union after she gave birth to Jesus? No, it does not. Look at this verse.
For he [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:25
Does this mean that Christ stops reigning once his enemies are under his feet? No, Christ will reign forever.
…and he [Christ] will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. ~ Luke 1:33
It is crucial to read the Bible in light of the Bible and to not isolate verses. Matthew’s statement that Joseph and Mary had no union “until” she gave birth to Jesus emphasizes the virgin birth of Jesus, and does not extend beyond that.
I Am A Virgin
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” ~ Luke 1:34
When Gabriel told Mary she was to have a baby, she was perplexed. If she were not a consecrated virgin, she would not have been perplexed. As a husband, Joseph would have been entitled to an intimate relationship with his wife, had her consecrated virginity not been made clear to him in the beginning, and had he not agreed to care for her in spite of it.
If Mary were not a consecrated virgin, it makes no sense that she and Joseph had not yet been intimate in their marriage. Joseph was assigned to care for a consecrated virgin, but imagine his shock when she all of sudden became pregnant, and not by him!!! Joseph thought Mary’s pregnancy came about by infidelity, and he wanted out of the marriage. After all, she is supposed to be a consecrated virgin, and here she goes getting pregnant and it’s not even by Joseph! But Joseph was decent guy, and he didn’t want to expose Mary to scorn.
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. ~ Matthew 1:19
You can’t divorce someone unless you are married to them. Joseph and Mary were married. You can’t marry someone (especially in that culture) and then deprive them of marital intimacy. Joseph and Mary had a marriage whereby Joseph would care for Mary, but her consecrated virginity was plainly known to him, and he went into the marriage with eyes wide open. Mary was consecrated to be a virgin her entire life, and she was.
The Bible is always proven true.