Is Ireland losing vocation ? Aug 2, 2009 11:21:25 GMT
Post by Harris on Aug 2, 2009 11:21:25 GMT
This is a very interesting point and one well worth discussion.
All we can really say for certain is that most Jewish men at that time were married by their late teens. Young girls (maybe as young as 12 or 13) were betrothed to men (this was like the courtship period) and sometime later, (usually 1 – 2 years maximum) the couple would have been married.
It was the duty of Jewish men at the time to start a family and it has been suggested by the Torah of this period that each man bore two sons before the age of 40.
If a Jewish girl became pregnant during this courtship period of betrothal (the pre marriage state whilst you are promised to a Jewish man), the punishment by Jewish law for the girl was death by stoning. This was the situation in which Mary found herself circa 0AD. However, the scriptures inform us that Saint Joseph was a righteous man and he took Mary under his wing, so to speak.
If the apostles were celibate, they really would have been the exception, rather than the rule, and they would all have to have been recruited very early in their lives either before or during the betrothal period and definitely before they were married. For a young Jewish man to decide to leave home during a period in his life when he was in a situation where he was betrothed to a Jewish girl would have raised many social problems for the families involved in the relationship. Marriage was not only about love, but it was a social and business commitment at this time between families.
However, I would be willing to accept that if someone of great charisma were to arrive in a small Judean village (for instance a man with what appears to be divine powers) it is perfectly believable that a Jewish man would risk the ostracization of his community to go and serve what he considered the greater good.
I'd be interested to see quotes from the new testament you refer to that hint towards the celibacy of the 12. I'm not aware of any, but I'm always open to new readings of passages.