instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Augustine on the fatherhood of St. Joseph

From The Harmony of the Gospels, II, i (emphases added):
2. The evangelist Matthew has commenced his narrative in these terms: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." By this exordium he shows with sufficient clearness that his undertaking is to give an account of the generation of Christ according to the flesh. For, according to this, Christ is the Son of man, a title which He also gives very frequently to Himself, thereby commending to our notice what in His compassion He has condescended to be on our behalf....

Matthew therefore traces out the human generation of Christ, mentioning His ancestors from Abraham downwards, and carrying them on to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. For it was not held allowable to consider him dissociated from the married estate which was entered into with Mary, on the ground that she gave birth to Christ, not as the wedded wife of Joseph, but as a virgin.... Moreover, the mere fact that he had not begotten Him by act of his own, was no sufficient reason why Joseph should not be called the father of Christ; for indeed he could be in all propriety the father of one whom he had not begotten by his own wife, but had adopted from some other person.

3. ...[Luke], instead of naming Mary His only parent, had not the slightest hesitation in also speaking of both parties as His parents, when he says: "And the boy grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was in Him: and His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover." ... Since, then, he also makes the statement that Christ was born, not in consequence of Joseph's connection with the mother, but simply of Mary the virgin, how can he call him His father, unless it be that we are to understand him to have been truly the husband of Mary, without the intercourse of the flesh indeed, but in virtue of the real union of marriage; and thus also to have been in a much closer relation the father of Christ, in so far as He was born of his wife, than would have been the case had He been only adopted from some other party?

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