20 December 2010

Personal Touch

Welcome to the Neighborhood News

This month Personal Touch celebrates Christmas with a special series on the Life and Miracles of Jesus Christ.  This week we turn to the Miracles of Christ’s ministry with Patrick Bishop, the author of The Gospels in Harmony, a fully illustrated book that weaves together scripture to create a chronological and detailed narrative of the Savior’s ministry. Patrick A. Bishop received a bachelor's of science degree from Montana State University and a master's of science degree from Utah State University.  He has published several articles on Church history for BYU Studies, The Maxwell Institute, and The Religious Studies Center at BYU. He is also noted as a contributor to the Joseph Smith Papers, Journal Volume 1. His most important contribution may be the identification of an alleged daguerreotype of Oliver Cowdery. He is married to the former Elizabeth J. Contreras, and they are the parents of five.

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 Let’s talk about Joseph the carpenter. The scriptures are somewhat silent about Joseph. But enough is said about him to bring up a few important points:
A King: he was of royal lineage, going all the way to king David. “Had Judah been a free and independent nation, Joseph the carpenter would have been her crowned king: and his lawful successor would have been Jesus of Nazareth.” (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 82)

Carpenter: it was his profession. At the time, it meant that he probably had people apprenticing under him. According to Paul Thomas Smith, who gave an interview in our Personal Touch segment a few weeks ago, “Joseph was not simply a common carpenter; he was a Tecton which means a general contractor. He was prepared to build houses and would have been highly respected in his community. But there was so little to do in Nazareth that he undoubtedly went to Sepphoris - the capital city of Galilee- about four miles away. There was a lot of money there so he traveled from city to city.” Source: here.

Espoused to Mary: this vow, or betrothal, has always been regarded as sacred and binding in Jewish law. It was as binding as a marriage ceremony, without the particular rights of marriage. (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 67)

His character: we learn of his character when we read what happened after he found out Mary was pregnant, ‘before they came together’ (Matthew 1:18):

“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.” (Matthew 1:19)

He was willing to end their betrothal quietly, so Mary wouldn’t be harmed, since Jewish law required that she should be stoned. We all know that the angel Gabriel came to him in a dream and told him of the plan, and convinced Joseph to keep Mary as his wife.

I wonder about the years while the Savior was growing up, next to this ‘just man,’ chosen to be His guardian until He became of age. Did they have long conversations? Did they just remain quiet? Or maybe Joseph mentioned to Jesus the night of His birth. Perhaps the Child taught Joseph a few things he didn’t know. We’ll never know.

What we do know is that Joseph the carpenter was the right man for the job, and his reward is eternal.

To view a copy of the Neighborhood News for Monday, 20 December, please click here.

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