The major study and commentary are those of Morenz (see under ‘German’ above). Variot, 83–92.
G. Giamberardini, ‘San Giuseppe nella tradizione copta’, Studia Orientalia Christiana Collectanea (Cairo, 1966), 5–291 (French translation (Montreal, 1969) (= Cahiers de Joséphologie 17/1)).
F. Manns, ‘Le portrait de Joseph dans l'Histoire de Joseph le Charpentier’, in id., Essais sur le Judéo‐Christianisme (Jerusalem, 1977), 94–105.
Proem. ‘This is the going forth from the body of our father Joseph the carpenter, the father of Christ according to flesh, whose life was one hundred and eleven years.’ It was told by Christ to the apostles on Mount Olivet, was written down by them, and laid up in the library at Jerusalem. The day of the death was the 26th of the month Epep.
1. Christ on Mount Olivet addresses the apostles: on the certainty of death and the justice of God, etc.
2. There was a man whose name was Joseph, descended from a family of Bethlehem, a town of Judah, and the city of King David. This same man, being well instructed with wisdom and learning, was made a priest in the temple of the Lord. He was, also, skilful in his trade, which was that of a carpenter; and like all men, he married a wife. Moreover, he begot for himself sons and daughters in fact four sons, and two daughters. Now these are their names—Judas, Justus, James, and Simeon. The names of the two daughters were Assia and Lydia. At length the wife of righteous Joseph, a woman intent on the divine glory in all her works, died. But Joseph, that righteous man, my father after the flesh, and the spouse of my mother Mary, went away with his sons to his trade, practising the art of a carpenter.
3. Mary was being brought up in the Temple till she was twelve years old. The priests decided to give her to a husband.
4. The lot fell on Joseph. Mary brought up James and was called Mary of James. Two years passed.
5. ‘I came and dwelt in her.’ Joseph's perplexity.
6. Reassured by Gabriel.
7. Decree of Caesar. The Birth ‘by the tomb of Rachel’.
8. Herod sought to slay me. The Flight: Salome was with us. A year in Egypt.
9. Return to Nazareth. Joseph worked at his trade.
10–11. [Translated below.]
12. Joseph's death drew near. He went to the temple and prayed at the altar.
13. His prayer to be saved from the terrors after death, ‘the river of fire wherein all souls are purified before they see the glory of God’.
14. He returned to Nazareth and fell ill. The dates of his life: he was forty when he married, and was married forty‐nine years: a year alone after his wife's death. Two years with Mary before the Nativity.
15–16. His strength gave way and he was troubled and uttered a lamentation over all the parts of his body, for their several transgressions.
17. [Translated below.]
18. I wept. My mother asked if Joseph must die, and I told her that it must be so.
19. I sat at his head, Mary at his feet. I felt his heart and found that the soul was in his throat.
20. Mary felt his feet and legs and found them cold as ice. The brethren and sisters were summoned. Lydia the eldest daughter [‘who is the seller of purple’, Sahidic: cf. Acts 16: 14 ] lamented: so did all.
21. I looked at the south of the door and saw Death, and Amente following with their satellites ‘decani’ armed with fire. Joseph saw them and feared. I rebuked them and they fled. Death hid himself behind the door. I prayed.
22. Prayer for protection for the soul of Joseph ‘until it cross the seven aeons of darkness’. ‘Let the river of fire be as water and the sea of demons cease vexing.’ Address to the apostles on the terrors of death.
23. [Translated below.]
24. I sat down by the body and closed the eyes and mouth; and comforted Mary and the rest.
25. The people of Nazareth came and mourned till the ninth hour. Then I sent them all off, anointed and washed the body. ‘I prayed to my Father with heavenly prayers which I wrote with my own fingers on the tables of heaven before I took flesh in the holy Virgin Mary.’ Angels came and shrouded the body.
26. I blessed it from all corruption; pronounced blessings on all who celebrate his memory by good deeds or write the story of his death.
27. The chief men of the place came to prepare the body, and found it already shrouded. The burial. I wept.
28. The lament of Jesus.
29. The body was laid in the tomb beside Jacob his father.
30. We the apostles rejoiced to hear all this. We asked why Joseph should not have been exempted from death like Enoch and Elias.
31. Jesus speaks of the inevitableness of death, and tells how Enoch and Elias still have to die, and are in trouble until their death is over. Antichrist will shed the blood of two men like a cup of water, because of the reproaches they will heap upon him.
32. We asked: Who are the two whom he will slay? Answer: Enoch and Elias.
The book ends with a doxology of the apostles.
10. At length, by increasing years, the old man arrived at an advanced age. He did not, however, labour under any bodily weakness, nor had his sight failed, nor had any tooth perished from his mouth nor, for the whole time of his life, was he ever insane; but like a boy he always showed youthful vigour in his business and his limbs remained unimpaired, and free from all pain. His life, then, in total, amounted to one hundred and eleven years, his old age being prolonged to the utmost limit.
11. Now Justus and Simeon, the elder sons of Joseph, were married and had families of their own. Both the daughters were likewise married and lived in their own houses. So there remained in Joseph's house Judas and James the Less, and my virgin mother. I also lived with them, just as if I had been one of his sons. I passed all my life without fault. I called Mary my mother, and Joseph father, and I obeyed them in all that they said; nor did I ever resist them, but complied with their commands, just as other men whom earth produces are wont to do; nor did I at any time arouse their anger, or give any word or answer in opposition to them. On the contrary, I cherished them with great love, like the apple of my eye.
17. I now went in beside him and found his soul exceedingly troubled, for he was in great anguish. And I said to him, ‘Hail! my father Joseph, you righteous man; how are you?’ And he answered me, ‘All hail! my well‐beloved son. Indeed, the agony and fear of death have already surrounded me; but as soon as I heard your voice my soul was at rest. O Jesus of Nazareth! Jesus, my Saviour! Jesus, the deliverer of my soul! Jesus, my protector! Jesus! O sweetest name in my mouth, and in the mouth of all those that love it! O eye which sees, and ear which hears, hear me! I am your servant; this day I most humbly venerate you, and before your face I pour out my tears. You are my God; you are my Lord, as the angel has told me on many occasions, and especially on that day when my soul was tossed about with perverse thoughts about the pure and blessed Mary, who was carrying you in her womb, and whom I was thinking of secretly sending away. And while I was thus meditating, behold, there appeared to me in my sleep angels of the Lord, in a wonderful mystery, saying to me, “O Joseph, son of David, fear not to take Mary as your wife; and do not grieve, nor speak unbecoming words of her conception, because she is with child of the Holy Spirit, and shall bring forth a son, whose name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Do not for this cause wish me evil, O Lord! for I was ignorant of the mystery of your birth. I call to mind also, my Lord, that day when the boy died of the bite of the serpent. And his relations wished to deliver you to Herod, saying that you had killed him; but you raised him from the dead, and restored him to them. Then I went up to you, and took hold of your hand, saying, “My son, take care of yourself.” But you said to me in reply, “Are you not my father after the flesh? I shall teach you who I am.” Now therefore, O Lord and my God, do not be angry with me, or condemn me on account of that hour. I am your servant, and the son of your handmaiden; but you are my Lord, my God and Saviour, most surely the Son of God’.
23. Therefore Michael and Gabriel came to the soul of my father Joseph, and took it, and wrapped it in a shining cloth. Thus he committed his spirit into the hands of my good Father, and he bestowed upon him peace. But as yet none of his children knew that he had fallen asleep. And the angels preserved his soul from the demons of darkness which were in the way, and praised God until they conducted it into the dwelling‐place of the pious.