Mary’s Folks

So today, as my brain was trying to process that Christ was to be born of the line of David, and we knew that Joseph was of the line of David, but that would sorta mess up the whole concept of the divine parent, I started wondering about Mary’s ancestry.  From Luke, we know that Mary was of the tribe of Judah, and was also descended from the line of King David, but then, of course, I began wondering why Mary’s parents didn’t go with them to Bethlehem for the census, since that’s where the line of King David went to be counted.

So as I’m going nuts, trying to find evidence of any of this in the various translations of the Bible, Bible dictionaries, study Bibles, etc., I’m finding nothing!  Parents to the rescue. <g>

According to the apocryphal “Gospel of James”, the “Gospel of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary”, and the Pseudo-Matthew, or “Book of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Childhood of the Saviour”.  Mary’s parents were Anne (Hebrew Hannah), and Joachim.  Joachim was of the tribe of Judah, of the line of David, married for 50 years to Anne.  Anne was barren until very late in life, and like with Samuel’s mother, she promised God that if He would bless her with a child, she would dedicate the child to the Temple.  So, Mary was born, and at age 3, was delivered to the Temple to be raised.  Joachim died shortly after Mary’s birth, but Anne went on to remarry and have more children.  Hence why Mary’s father did not accompany them on their trip to Bethlehem for the census.

None of these “facts” are backed up with any sort of historical evidence, which makes you sort of question their canonization.
The facts are slightly different in the Eastern Orthodox church, where both Anne and Joachim lived until Mary was approximately 10, visiting Mary at the Temple often.
Apparently an actual “cult-like movement” built around St. Anne, which Martin Luther fought strongly against.
Together St. Anne and St. Joachim are known as the parents of the Theotokos, or God-bearer, and are the patron saints of grandparents. 🙂
Sources are partially Roman Catholic, partially Greek Orthodox.  Interestingly, Mary’s exceptional parenting of Jesus is attributed to following the example of *her* parents, which is one of the reasons they are venerated (made saints).  I don’t get where that comes from, given that they gave her to the church when she was 3 – not much time to have any sort of influence on her at all.  Even if the story about them living until she was 10 and they visited her often were true, often in those days would have meant infrequent by modern standards – the temple was quite a way from where they lived, and would necessitate taking time away from whatever was supporting them (and they didn’t have other children to support them).  Additionally, these texts weren’t discovered until the 4th century, and are presumed written in approximately 145 AD.

The Catholics like the concept because the Gospel of James speaks to the virginity of Mary not only prior to Jesus’ birth, but also after, which is why they always refer to her as “ever virgin”.  Mainstream texts talk about Jesus’ brothers, but they point to this “Gospel” to show that Mary was approximately 13 to 14 when she became pregnant with Jesus, and Joseph was approximately 30 – implying that the siblings were actually from a previous marriage of Joseph.
Now, I know that times have changed, but I truly cannot imagine a man being married and not having sex with his wife, ever.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought a marriage wasn’t even considered valid until it was consummated.  I mean, I know that guy had to have patience, but gimme a break. <g>
None of the information is corroborated through historical sources  (i.e., Mary’s dedication to the church, Anne and Joaquim’s “miracle” child, marriage of Mary and Joseph – although if the records were all church related and could have been lost – however, there also wasn’t record of Joaquim’s presence in a previous census or evidence of him having a child, which would have been Roman records), nor is there similar anecdotal evidence from other sources accepted into the Bible.  This would be why they’re apocryphal books and not part of the mainstream Bible.
At the same time, some of those apocryphal sources are very cool, *and* tend to focus a bit more on women and women’s points of view – which may have been another reason for keeping them out at the time.
So, it’s interesting information, but at this point, I’d have to put it in the myth to legend category – there’s probably some element of truth in there, but after all the embellishment, it’s impossible to tell which element it is. 🙂
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