I am not a scholar, but it always bothers me when preachers assume Jesus was a carpenter. And I've read the answers that project that his work was most likely in stone.

But, as I understand it, at the time of bar mitzvah, if the required memorization was not perfect then the boys were taught the trades of their fathers, like fishermen, craftsman, etc. And that if the lessons were perfect, the young man went on to higher learning. I don't know, it could be that the family business was also fit into the schedule, because families need to make a living, but I am curious if anyone knows what the culture was at that time?

  • 4
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    – user3961
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 4:07
  • There are a few things here: 1. was Jesus actually an artisan (of any sort)? 2. What was education like at the time when he was a boy? 3. What was his socio-economic situation like? 4. Taking all that in to account, is the picture of Jesus' pre-baptism life as described in the gospels unusual?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 4:29
  • culture was at that time? A question for history, archaeology?
    – user13992
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 5:55
  • This really is an excellent question, albeit not something I had heard before. Do you have a source for the claim? It's not required, necessarily, but will help :) Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


There is much disagreement as to whether the word translated 'carpenter' in:

Matthew 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?


Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

is properly translated or not. In my Interlinear copy that word is actuall in dout as to whether it is:

5045 [e]


τέκτονος ?



or not, as you can see it is marked with a question mark.

In ancient days they were mostly known as builders, and were not as specialized as they are today. The word tektonos actually refers more to an artisan in wood more than what we consider Carpentry today. That is to say that that particular word is more descriptive of someone who carved wood rather than a builder. Builders were skilled in more than wood as stone was actually more common in buildings of that era. There is a common belief that the word originally used was:

τέκτων tektōn

Thayer Definition:

1) a worker in wood, a carpenter, joiner, builder 1a) a ship’s carpenter or builder

2) any craftsman, or workman 2a) the art of poetry, maker of songs

3) a planner, contriver, plotter 3a) an author

Part of Speech: noun masculine.

If the original word was tekton rather than tektonos, it would explain Joseph's skill in both wood and stone. Many of the old manuscripts are not in very good shape due to the materials written on and the inks used, which are much less permanent than those of more modern times.

As for the term Rabbi it's connotations are much the same as our use of the word 'Pastor' today;

ῥαββί rhabbi

Thayer Definition:

1) my great one, my honourable sir

2) Rabbi, a title used by the Jews to address their teachers (and also honour them when not addressing them)

Part of Speech: noun masculine.

In referring to Jesus it appears that is in reference to his teaching the meaning of the Scriptures:

John 1:38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?


John 3:1 and 2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

All Scripture is quoted from the King James translation.

Hope this helps.

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    This is good information, but really belongs on the linked question. The OP is actually more interested in whether or not Jesus necessarily followed his father's profession. Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 13:56
  • @AffableGeek well those are thinly scriptures I know of that have to do with that, and there is no information that I can find as to whether Jesus himself did or did not. So I figured it was better to give what information was available. As I read the question the OP seemed more interested in why Preachers used both terms, and that seemed to answer that.
    – BYE
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 15:40

The word tekton includes every material, wood, iron, bronze, stone, because there was no sufficient work for specialized worker, most probably Joseph was an autodidactic (what was he doing in Nazareth there was not work there?), but with the help Jesus who must have grown fast, if we look at the shroud, he was a tall and strong man, and the most intelligent man ever and later a labor force of six workers all of them diligent. They must have raised the business and Jesus at the head of it.

That is why his mother and brothers went to see if he was crazy. He had an expensive tunic when crucified. His friends were rich: Joseph of Arimatea, Lazarus Marta and Maria, Nicodemus.

He made the family adequate for money and then sold his share and gave it to the poor and without knowing that he was the messiah went out to preach. God knew he was the messiah but he didn't yet know.

  • I belive that Jesus was a man, no divine he didn't even know he was the messiah, he went out to preach because he thought that somebody had to do that and he could. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 6:23
  • Do you have any references you can add to support this?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 7:06
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    Welcome to Christianity.SE! For a quick overview of what this site is all about, please take the Site Tour. Christianity.SE is more about what groups of Christians believe than about individual views. Does this answer represent some established theological or denominational position? If so, it would be helped by providing some references. See: What makes a good supported answer? Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 7:53

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