Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Joseph of Nazareth and his rotten relatives

I have a question about the Christmas story.

Luke says: "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."

Joseph, of the house of David, goes to Bethlehem, to be counted in the census. Presumably, even if his immediate family live in Nazareth, he has extended family in Bethlehem. He shows up in town with a pregnant fiancee..not merely pregnant, but seriously pregnant. And they let her give birth in a barn outside a cheap motel? What is WRONG with these people?

Granted, the town may be jam-packed, but still--"OK, Uncle Yehuda has the couch, Eleazar is in the bathtub, Auntie Chloe is going to sleep in Batsheva's bed, and Batsheva will double up with Devorah. Shimon! Pack up your spare undies. Joe's found some room in the inn's stable, and you'll share that with him until everyone goes home. Whaddya mean, why? Miriam's practically in labor already, and you ask why? She needs your bed, genius! She should give birth in a stable? Your cousin Yosef's first son is going to be put in his swaddling clothes into a feedbox maybe? Aaah, use some common sense!"

It's been suggested to me that the family disapproves of Mary's pregnancy, but why to such an extent, if they assume it's Joseph's child? (I assume Joseph has had the common sense not to go around telling everyone about the virginity, and the dreams, and the angels and everything.) I have to assume there is some famiyl stuff going on here that Luke either doesn't know about, or doesn't care about.

In any event, makes for a much more gripping story than the traditional version, with just the two of them gliding through an angel-filled night--to my mind, at any rate.


Kai Jones said...

I remember reading somewhere a retold version of the story in which Joseph's marrying Mary is questioned because it's assumed she's pregnant with some other man's child. That is, Joseph wasn't in town when she got pregnant. While they would have accepted her pregnancy as just taking marriage privileges a little early if the child was Joseph's, they couldn't understand his failure to reject her for infidelity.

Plus there's that law about marrying the virgin you corrupt: technically Mary should be marrying whoever got her pregnant *anyway* as his punishment.

Amishav said...

Well, that would make a more interesting story, but I think it would be more interesting if Joseph went around saying, "I don't know whose kid it is, but I sure as hell don't want to get stuck with the child support!" That would make for some interesting discusssions at Churches on the 25th!

The back of the hill said...

Joseph probably had a narrow urethra. And was glad to have a kid.

Got him off the hook.

I've always wondered how James handled being the younger brother of THE... MESS... IAH!!!

Must have been a drag always being compared to THE... MESS... IAH!!!

"Jimmie, why can't you be like your older brother, he's a good boy. Such a good boy!"

Or "I'm sure you did it, Jimmie - your brother would NEVER do something like that, 'cause he's THE... MESS... IAH!!!"