According to the biblical narratives and widely believed by western Christians, Jesus of Nazarus was born in Bethlehem, lived most of his childhood and early adult life in Nazareth, and established his itinerant ministry in Judea in the third decade of what came to be known as the Common Era. The gospels are remarkably thin regarding details of his life beyond the first twelve years until the beginning of his ministry. Only two of the gospels discuss his birth. None discuss his life from the age of twelve until the time of his baptism by John. At least eighteen years of his life are unknown to anyone, the years of his education, his early adulthood, and his family relationships as a youth.
Did he go to school at temple, learning to read and write? The gospels imply that he could do both, reading scripture and at least once writing in the dirt, though what was written is not specified. The absence of historical fact has led to speculation; that he traveled to what became England, or Greece, or France, or India, or all of the above. Did he work as a carpenter with his father Joseph, as is implied in at least one verse in Matthew? Since none of the gospels was written by a contemporary, and since other documents exist but are deigned heretical by Church dogma, speculation by other religious groups and scholars has led to many “facts” about the life of Jesus, none of them proved, all of them speculative, and all of them controversial. Here are just some of the beliefs about the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
1. Was Jesus the son of a carpenter?
According to the Christian view of the life of Jesus he was the son, or rather the stepson, of a carpenter named Joseph. Joseph does not appear in Mark’s gospel, and he is likewise absent from the epistles of Paul. He disappears early in the story of Jesus as recounted in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, and besides the appearances in those gospels, and reference to Jesus being the son of an unnamed carpenter in John, there are no further references to the man known as Joseph, the husband of Mary. There are references to Jesus being the carpenter’s son in the New Testament, but it is in the books of the Apocrypha where Joseph is more specifically described, as the husband of Mary and the father of James, Simon, Jude, Joses, and at least two unnamed daughters.
The unknown years of Jesus’ youth are frequently referred to with him working as a carpenter, implying that it was a trade which he learned from his father. In Matthew (13:55) it is mentioned that the crowd asked of each other in reference to Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” It is inferred that Jesus followed in the trade of his stepfather, which would have been common in the region at the time of his youth, though nothing in any of the gospels specifically states that Jesus was a carpenter himself. The Greek word in the ancient texts interpreted as carpenter is tekton, which refers to an artisan including, besides carpentry and wood-working, stonemasonry, general builders, or even building engineers, as well as teachers of those trades.