Did you know that…?
by James Tabor
Everyone repeats endlessly that “Jesus was a carpenter.” Hey even Kris Kristopher has a song that begins that way, and one sees bumper stickers about following a “Jewish carpenter” all the time. Did you know that the reference to Jesus having such a trade only occurs one time in all our the gospels accounts:
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3)
Strangely, Matthew, following Mark’s story here shifts this to “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55), with Joseph unnamed–which is quite an intriguing It is hard to imagine how such a dominant image of Jesus working with saw and hammer in a wood shop hangs upon so tiny a thread. As it turns out, the word in Greek (tekton/τεκτων), that Mark uses here, translated commonly in English as “carpenter,” is better translated more generically as “builder,” and might just as easily refer to a stone mason.