Jesus' Dad Was Joseph of Arimathea

From a personal standpoint, it is my view that Jesus' father, Joseph, did not die before Jesus was crucified. Of course, there isn't much proof to back the argument up either way; there are only hypotheses and possibilities. Again, that's just my personal view. But another view that I find absolutely intriguing is that by A.J. Fejfar. The gist of his argument is that Joseph and Jesus, as "tektons" were both charged by the people of Nazareth with penury--a common and serious charge in NT antiquity. This is what eventually drove them both out of Nazareth. Surviving the charge, Joseph became rather rich--as was often the case if those charges were survived. Being rich, Joseph had in-roads with Pilate, so much so that he could ask for a private tomb for Jesus' burial. Thus, the rich "Joseph of Arimathea" in the Gospels, is really Jesus' father. If this is the case, both Joseph and Mary are actually present at the cross. I must admit, as one who does not believe Joseph was dead, I find this argument very persuasive. What do you think about this theory?


  1. I see a few major problems, potentially. First, how does Joseph of Nazareth, or alternatively of Bethlehem, come to be known as "Joseph of Arimathea"? I suppose one could argue that he was from there, but then why and how did he end up in Nazareth in the first place, only to leave again? It is possible, but by no means a simple explanation of the evidence, in my opinion.

    Second, why are Mary and other women who were connected with Jesus watching from a distance when Jesus is buried? Why would Joseph leave Mary and others at a distance?

    Third, why is Joseph identified as (or transformed into) a disciple in later Gospels, but without any mention being made that he was Jesus' father?

    The identification may merit further explanation, but the things mentioned above are reasons why I'm not yet convinced!

  2. James,

    The problems you raised are certainly legit. If I may respond to them:

    1) It could be posited that upon leaving Nazareth under the terms he did (eg penury), he took up a new life and identity in Jerusalem. He still could have originally been JofN but just later became JofA. The charges would have come some time before Jesus' vocation/ministry.

    2) The answer concerning the distance does not pose significant problems, I think, perhaps he was going to secure the tomb or get it ready, etc. A simple answer, perhaps, too simple, I don't know.

    3) I also don't see it troubling to have him portrayed as a follower, as perhaps, the rest of His family did.

    I'm just answering off the top of my head here. You're questions are first-rate; perhaps Fejfar takes them up in his work, I don't know. Like you, I'm not totally convinced, although, as I stated, I do find the argument compelling and persuasive at points.

  3. what is penury?

    I agree it would be a very interesting argument indeed!

  4. Brian,

    Penury, as I understand it in this context, would have been Joseph hoarding his money or being terribly stingy/frugal with it. In a small village, this could cause many problems, especially in a society of limited good. Thus, the people of Naz would have accused him of this and perhaps ran him off. I can see how working the issue from this sociological angle could raise many new questions.

  5. Brian,

    I would add to my previous response, that, I don't know, though, if Fejfar does approach it from the limited good angle; probably not. I don't know, though.

  6. Michael wrote:
    "Of course, there isn't much proof to back the argument up either way; there are only hypotheses and possibilities. "

    Hell, there ain't even a shred of evidence for this . . . much less "proof."

    To the objections that James presents above could be added others, but those suffice to show the question-begging aspect of such theorizing.

    I am curious, though, as to why this is your view, considering the complete dearth of evidence to support it.

    Does it give you a warm fuzzy feeling (or what the Mormons call a "burning in the bosom")?
    What other things regarding the origins of the Christian religion do you believe in this same manner?

    I'm not just being facetious here; I am genuinely interested in how people come to their beliefs in spite of such demonstrable improbabilities.



  7. Quixie,

    First of all, I didn't say I subscribed to this view. I simply said I found things about it that were compelling and persuasive.

    As for Joseph dead before Jesus' crucifixion, you cannot prove that. Just like I cannot prove this view.

    The reason I don't think Joseph died is based on a few things: 1) Given the fact that Jesus uses so many good father stories, I think He may have still had a good relationship with His living father, 2) There could be no mention of Joseph in the NT because the writers didn't want to deal w/the confusion of God the Father and Joseph the Father, 3) I think that Joseph would have lived well into Jesus' adult life so as to teach him the tekton trade, as well as to make social connections and learn travelling routes.

    These are just some ideas. I think you got a bit worked up over this post. I didn't say it was fact and I didn't say I accepted it. I said I found it compelling; it is an interesting theory.

    I don't understand why you are so against questioning and theorizing. It is questions that help us sharpen views and sometimes move ahead. That's all I'm doing. Even if you see it as "question-begging", that's fine with me.

    As for the warm fuzzy feelings, the mormong "burning in the bosom" (by the way, the mormons used to teach that joseph was married to mary, mary magdalene and another woman--talk about theorizing), no, I don't approach the issue that way. I approach it as intriguing and as an area for study. If it's a dead-end, it's a dead-end. But this is where you totally misread the article and misunderstood me, I never said I believed it!!!!! Get your stuff straight!!! Concerning this and other things on Christian origins, there is no correclation between what I speculate over and what I hold to be factual and correct.

    You're right about the questions James raises and improbabilities, but like James did, I think it is great to raise questions and attempt to answer them. If that disturbs you so much, well, I don't know what to tell you. I do know that you misread me and this article, though. Remember, it was Fejfar who believed this, and that's why I cited his name!!!

  8. You did say, "I must admit, as one who does not believe Joseph was dead, I find this argument very persuasive, (my emphasis)" before you said, "... you totally misread the article and misunderstood me, I never said I believed it!!!!! Get your stuff straight!!!"

    Does this mean that you find it very persuasive", yet don't believe it? How persuasive can "very persuasive" be in such a case?

    Also . . . eight exclamation points?

    Do you not see the irony in your accusation that I am "worked up" or "disturbed" (I am neither of these, I assure you :) in light of your overblown reaction to my honest examination of what you wrote?

    Did you really see it as an attack on my part?
    I promise you it wasn't.



  9. finding something persuasive and putting stock in it, in my opinion are two different things.

    Mike I don't know how to do ping backs but I posted what a few questions of my own.

  10. Brian:
    Sure, you can have a sliding scale regarding the meaning of specific words if you wish.
    Such a sliding scale is a slippery slope however (pun intended :)

    But what do English dictionaries say that the word "persuade" means?

    I can find something fascinating, or intriguing, or interesting, or even tenable, and yet not "believe" it. But every time that I find an argument "persuasive", I tend to accept it as a basis for holding an opinion.

    Every time.

    If I didn't, I would be adapting my criteria for accepting whether something is true or not according to something other than logic or honest reasoning.



  11. Quixie,

    Thanks for the clarification. I think Brian's clarification is a good one: there is a difference in finding something persuasive and putting stock in it. The reason I find it persuasive at all is because I already held the view that Joseph wasn't dead. This may just be another lens through which to see the view I already held.

    I don't see the irony, as I felt your reply was arrogant (not saying you're an arrogant person but simply that your reply was). You can't prove your view any more than I can prove mine. All we can do is work in possibilities, probabilities and the realm of the hypothetical.

    Brian, I'll give your questions a look. I'm not sure about ping-backs either; I don't even know what those are.

  12. Q,

    as for the meanings of words, i see your point. i see brian's too, it is not unfounded. it might have been more accurate to say i find it very compelling instead of very persuasive. either way, to find it persuasive is not to say i accept it or that i myself am ultimately persuaded by it. contra, you, just because something sounds persuasive or seems that way, doesn't mean i accept it or base my views on it. there are a lot of people who have sounded persuasive to me on a number of issues but that doesn't mean i go with the view. i have people hitting me and the church up for money all of the time. some stories are more persuasive than others but by no means do i believe any of them without some sure proof or doing some background work.

  13. Michael:
    "You can't prove your view any more than I can prove mine. "

    I didn't state any position or any view. I merely asked about yours.


    I'll shoosh now.



  14. You are right on that. Some misreading on this end too, I see.

  15. i separated out the questions on my posts. congrats on paying off your loans! Unless a miracle happens it'll be a few decades before mine are gone.

  16. Brian,

    Thanks for the congrats; I hope your miracle comes.

    I'll look at your questions on your site.

    Actually, for those who may be interested, here is Brian's link: Questions about Joseph.

  17. There is a very strong possibility that this is correct.
    The first point to note is that Joseph of Arimathea is a cryptonym. The name should read either Joseph bar Mathea or Joseph abi Mathea. Son of or Father of Matthew respectively.
    The second point is that is accepted after the forensic work of Eisemann that Joseph Cleopas and Alpheus are all the same person.
    As Jesus appeared to Cleopas after the resurrection it follows that Joseph was still alive at the time.
    As the disciple Matthew Levi is listed as the son of Alpheus it follows that Joseph is the father of Matthew. Abi Mathea
    Mathea though is also listed as the grandfather of Joseph so Joseph bar Mathea could be an uncle.
    The ancestral trees in the gospels are suspect though both agree of Joseph being descended from Matthew and disagree on Joseph's father. If Matthew is Joseph's father then once again Joseph bar Mathea is also the father of Jesus.

  18. http://what-is-god.net/archives/191

    I agree with this view that Joseph of Arimathea is, most probaly, the real father of Jesus. I have looked at it myself in my blog post you have the link above...