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Jesus is continually referred to as a “carpenter” (woodworker).  However, I find no reference to the Savior actually working with wood.  If anything, Christ was probably a mason, as nearly all of his references and parables seem to focus on rock, sand,  and firm foundations.  As such, I find “carpenter” to likely be a mistranslation during the organization of the Bible.

Your thoughts?





Hi Bob,

The New Testament refers to Joseph as a τέκτων (tektōn), which is normally translated in English as “carpenter.”  A more general translation would be a “builder” or “artisan.” Since this would have been the trade Jesus was brought up in, I love the idea that he was brought up as a “builder,” since of course he is the master Builder of his kingdom. As a “builder,” he would doubtless have been familiar with the general mechanical properties of sand and stone, and would likely have known by experience that houses built on sand are unsafe. (A good resource for such translation issues is the Blue Letter Bible.)

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that “carpenter” is a mistranslation. There are separate terms for “iron-worker” and “stone-worker” that were commonly used in ancient Koine Greek; we can assume that one of these terms would have been used to describe Joseph if it had been more fitting than “tektōn.” Translating between languages is a tricky business. Translating from an ancient language into a modern one is even more fraught with difficulty. So I’m happy to give the translators a pass for using this term, which is both accurate and reasonable in context. But privately, I like to think of Joseph and Jesus as “builders”.





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