Joseph the Smith and the Salvational Transformation of Matter in Early Medieval Europe

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mary W. Helms, Emeritus Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: In early medieval Western Europe, Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was identified occupationally not only as a domestic woodworker but also as a blacksmith, the most mysterious, powerful, and sacrosanct category of supernaturally endowed skilled crafting known to traditional nonindustrial soci- eties. After reviewing skilled crafting and especially smithing as ritual processes, this essay considers typological identification of Joseph the smith as earthly parallel of the Deus artifex and as symbolic of the purifying (salvational) transformation of earthly matter (humanity) into a more rarefied (spiritual) state by fire as represented metaphorically by metallurgical processes. Aspects of the ideological climate of opinion encouraging such an identi- fication in the early Middle Ages are also discussed. [St. Joseph, transformation of matter, smithing, early medieval cosmology, metaphors of salvation]

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2006
medieval history, european history, biblical history, early medieval europe, anthropology, Christianity, jospeph, judeo-christian lore, sacred lore

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