[The text is also available in the Greek original]

I think the impression that Jesus was a carpenter before He started teaching is widespread, and it is worth considering the real causes of this, since the available evidence does not support it.

Three of the four Gospels -Matthew, John and Luke-, have not the slightest reference to the occupation of Jesus, directly or indirectly — not a single word. The Gospel of Matthew refers to Joseph as a carpenter, once and indirectly — nowhere and in no way to Jesus. Only in the Gospel of Mark Jesus is referred to as a carpenter, just once and not in the main narration about His life, but incidentally, when some Jews wonder how was it possible to be so wise, since He was only a carpenter.

The interpretive literature that followed, the texts of the Fathers, from the first Confessors and Apologists to St Gregory Palamas, does not address the alleged occupation of Jesus. Origen deals with that once, only to reject as false the notion that Jesus was a carpenter.

We do not need much imagination to understand that the current picture about Jesus being a carpenter has a Protestant origin. The ants of Christianity, about which very accurately Max Weber shows how they transformed the ascetic spirit itself to business and the acquisition of wealth to a presumption of divine acceptance and recognition, naturally wanted a less uncertain occupational status for Christ. But it is more interesting to watch what happens in the Gospels.

The absence of relevant references in the three Gospels and the weak and ambiguous reference in Mark I think are enough to let us understand that we can not think of the young Jesus as a carpenter.

Rival Jews (in Matthew) called Him ‘son of the carpenter’, and in Mark ‘carpenter’, possibly again meaning ‘son of the carpenter’ (as Augustine explains), assuming that as a son He would be engaged with the art of His father, and this they did to reduce its origin and show that it does not match His wisdom — not necessarily presupposing a real condition, for which they may have been in absolute ignorance, which is the most probable, since there was not any professional status of Jesus according to the evidence of the three Evangelists. But we don’t need to stick to this information, since we can examine the matter otherwise.