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Correct translation?
Matthew 13:55 "Wasn’t this the son of the carpenter,...."
ThirdwoeMatthew 13:55 "Wasn’t this the son of the carpenter,...."

ܢܓܪܐ in the general sense refers to a "craftsman", and can refer to several different crafts depending on context (e.g., carpentry, stonemasonry, metalwork).  “Carpenter” is a fine translation IF tradition backs it up.  But is there any tradition for Joseph being a wood carpenter?  I did find Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho LXXXVIII, claiming that Yahshua "… was in the habit of working as a carpenter when among men, making plows and yokes.").  But the gospel itself does not provide the necessary context for the word ܢܓܪܐ  (“craftsman”) to become "carpenter".  Personally, I would translate the word as ‘craftsman’ generally, rather than take the risk of being wrong. 

Indeed, the region of Nazareth was not forested.  It is reported that Nazareth and surrounding populated areas were primarily constructed of stone, especially because of Roman building projects that were entirely stone.  For Joseph to earn a daily wage, it helps to know there were apparently more stonemason jobs (a common job, rather than a glamorous or well paid one) at the time compared to wood carpenter jobs (a less common job and a more esteemed one).  Recall that Mary’s turtle dove offering in Luke 2:24 indicated Joseph had limited means.  According to Jewish traditions, a person's offering must reflect their ordinary means ('standard of living'), which is why we read these two rules applied (later) in the Talmud: (1) a high-income person could not offer a lesser sacrifice than his normal means afforded, and (2) a low-income person could not offer a greater sacrifice than his normal means afforded.

Anyway, I think the message here is that Yahshua came from a simple, humble family.  Indeed, Nazareth was not esteemed in its time (see e.g., John 1:46 “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”).

Lastly, given that one of the Aramaic/Hebrew meanings of the name ܝܫܘܥ is “Yah’s rock”, the context would suggest that Joseph was a stonemason – I mean to say, the fact that Yahshua’s body was the real temple, and that His body was not stone, gives further meaning to the fact that Joseph was not Yahshua’s real dad, but rather Joseph was only symbolically his dad on earth for a time, just like the stone temple in Jerusalem was only symbolic for Yahshua.

Ultimately the word  ܢܓܪܐ has many meanings.  You can see this in Jastrow for example (p. 876) where the translation “master” comes from later Jewish texts, which was explained by scholar Geza Vermes. I found this summary online:

Quote:Jewish scholar Geza Vermes notes that later Talmudic texts use the word for "carpenter" or "craftsman" - naggar - as a synonym for "teacher, scholar, learned man", for example:

"This is something no carpenter, son of carpenters, can explain"  (Yebamoth 9b, Kiddishin 66a)

"There is no carpenter, nor a carpenter's son, to explain it" ('Abodah Zarah 50b)
Geza Vermes, Jesus the Jew, (1973) pp. 21-22.

Some people take the later translation “master” to imply that Joseph was perhaps some sort of scholar or master of secrets?   But that theory doesn’t hold water – it’s just speculation, and there is neither biblical context nor tradition to support it. 

What we do know is that Joseph was an “upright” man. Matthew 1:19.   That’s really the key thing we need to know for why Alha chose Joseph for his important role as a guardian.

And we also know that Yahshua accomplished a building project even greater than earthly carpentry, "There are many rooms in my Father's house, and if not, I would have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you."
Thanks for that, Gregg. "Craftsman" might be best for that word, but I was wanting to know about the 1st word in that sentence there.

It looks to be in the perfect tense unless I'm seeing it wrong, if so, then it may be an indicator that Joseph had passed away before this statement was made.

Good question. The verb ܗܘܐ can represent past tense (i.e., Matthew 16:11; Matthew 18:33; Matthew 19:8; Matthew 24:21; Matthew 25:27), but in the grammar of Matthew 13:55 we see the subject of the verb ܗܘܐ in that sentence fragment is not Joseph, but rather is Yahshua, so the segment must be present tense [Glaser note: or past tense re Yahshua - see my next post below].  Indeed, we read the same grammar ܠܐ ܗܘܐ ܗܢܐ ("Is not this...") as present tense toward Yahshua in John 6:42 and Mark 6:3.  And for additional examples with similar present tense grammar, see Matthew 7:21; Matthew 10:20; Matthew 12:30, Matthew 15:11.
If the subject were a deceased Joseph, then the sentence structure would be organized differently and the conjugation might have been ܕܗܘܐ ("who was") to make it clear.  See grammatical examples in verses like Matthew 8:33; Matthew 12:40; Matthew 13:21; Matthew 26:56.  Incidentally, another alternative is for the dalet to be placed with the adjective that precedes the verb ܗܘܐ, as in Luke 7:12.  See also Ezekiel 44:25 for comparison.

You do raise a very interesting question about Joseph.  And certainly the grammar of Matthew 13:55 does not require Joseph to be alive at the time of that statement.  I actually consider it quite probable that Mary was a widow at the time of the crucifixion, given the unique suggestions of ‘adoption’ in John 19:26-27.  For some reading on widows & adoption in early Judaism, see The Establishment of Maternity & Paternity in Jewish and American Law, by Michael J. Broyde; Women in Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern Law, by Carol Pratt Bradley, Studia Antiqua, Vol. 3, No. 1, Winter 2003, p 37 (“Widows”). See also the widow’s right to maintenance - The Widow’s Rights in Jewish and Israeli Law, by M. Chigier, The Jewish Law Annual, Vol V.
So then, would the Peshitta tool at Dukhrana be mistaken? It has the verb in the perfect tense there.
Technically it depends on the subjective perspective of the person asking the question in Matthew 13:55.  Was the questioner asking about Yahshua in the past tense (i.e., ‘is this not the boy we knew from Nazareth’?) or the present tense (i.e., ‘is this not the man we know from Nazareth’? ).  There is no way to know the answer from our perspective as readers (especially because we don't know the background of the questioner), but fortunately either way, the subject of the verb is Yahshua (not Joseph), so the past or present tense designation doesn’t affect the reading of the verse (because the subject, Yahshua, of the verb is so well defined).

Thus, because the tense is subjective to the questioner, the entry in Dukhrana (2:5144) stated as “perfect” tense is correct for the option of the past tense perspective.  

I’m glad you followed up with your question, Chuck!  I would have never thought so deeply about this verse unless you asked Smile

And yeah, by itself ܗܘܐ can be either present or past tense.  If using diacritical marks, there would be a line under the hey in ܗܘܐ  to indicate past tense.  See e.g., Kiraz, New Syriac Primer, p. 160.
If it is correct that its in the perfect tense there, should it be accurately translated in English as "wasn't this the son of the carpenter" or "Isn't this the son of the carpenter."

Also, I have a personal question to ask you Gregg, so I'll ask you in the PM section.

(04-04-2017, 01:48 AM)Thirdwoe Wrote: If it is correct that its in the perfect tense there, should it be accurately translated in English as "wasn't this the son of the carpenter" or "Isn't this the son of the carpenter."

Also, I have a personal question to ask you Gregg, so I'll ask you in the PM section.


"Was this not the son of the carpenter?" is indeed an optional translation.  I think the likelihood of that option is primarily informed by John 6:42 and Mark 6:3.  But a past tense reading cannot be disproven by Matthew 13:55 alone.  I would say it's a very meaningful option.  I had not fully considered it until our series of posts. I think it's also interesting to consider the ܡܬܩܪܝܐ  later in the verse, as that verb conjugation can also be present tense or past tense. 

Also, thanks for the PM. I emailed you too so hopefully you received.

In this case, couldn't it be an idiom for something which has to do with becoming a carpenter or mason — being apprentice, graduating from an education or dropping out. Bar corresponds to Hebrew ben, for which BDB says:

Quote:7.a member of a guild, order or class, +בני הנביאימ i.e. those belonging to the prophetic order I K 20:35 [...]
More examples are given after: 
son of a messenger = messenger
men of the troop
men of the caravan
בני הגולה = exiles

This would explain the perfect aspect since being apprentice or graduating has an endpoint in time.

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