In popular accounts of the life of Jesus, he is often portrayed as a carpenter. But is it true?
Throughout most English translations of the Gospels, the Son of God is referred to as a “carpenter” as in Mark 6:3, which reads: “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?”
Yet the Greek work here is “tekton” — often translated in English as “carpenter”— is better translated “builder,” which could just as easily refer to a stone mason, according to religious scholar James Tabor.
Tabor noted in a December blog entry that it is important to note the context in which Jesus lived and how that informed his teachings.
“If one looks at the various stories Jesus tells as parables and analogies, related to his message of the Kingdom of God, the image of a stone mason or builder is dominant — even down to the details of how to plan, finance, and properly lay a solid foundation for a substantial building or tower,” Tabor wrote.
“Whether he was a skilled day laborer, a contract worker, or perhaps, even a managing contractor, we have no way of knowing.”
The scholar continued that during the years when Jesus was growing up walking the earth, Herod Antipas was rebuilding the city of Sepphoris (Tspori in Hebrew), as his capital. Nazareth, which was located less than four miles…
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