Joseph and the Angel of the Lord
(from WIP Not for Sunday School)
Kent H. Dixon
When Joseph went off on a job for a few weeks, he left young Mary at the temple with the vestal virgins, but he was gone too long. When he returned, the bridal bread had leavened: she was out to here!
He was furious. He yelled at the elders, prayed in the desert, and roundly confronted the virgins, giving them, as it were, holy hell. They were shocked, dismayed. Every day he’d been gone, they said, the angel of the Lord had come to feed Mary at her lips. That’s how chaste. If something else had happened, if she should have conceived, for instance, it must have been by the angel of the Lord.
It might have been someone dressed as the angel of the Lord, he said, but he was not born yesterday.
But then the angel got to him. What in the name of—so wroth the angel as to commit anachronism—what in the name of Christ did Joseph think he was doing? What monstrous presumption!
Poor Joseph now felt very guilty, and praised the Lord. But in his heart he mused: Angel? Or scoundrel dressed as an angel, did it matter? It wasn’t his. But, there
it was, the belly growing, the voices whispering, and as her navel slowly disappeared, it all made for an infinite loneliness in him, which should be part of every man’s religion, and is.
Joseph & the Angel of the Lord is from the Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, a collection of Infancy Gospels from other Infancy Gospels, “pseudo” because it’s a false attribution of authorship, and ‘Matthew’ because this collection seems sprinkle a goodly number of prophecy fulfillments throughout its tales of young Jesus, akin to the NT Matthew’s frequent sounding of that theme in his Gospel. As for these Infancies, they were immensely popular in the early centuries of the Common Era, for there is almost nothing about Jesus’ childhood—from birth through adolescence—in our Bible. There’s the nativity, and the episode in the temple when he’s twelve and holding his own with the elders, and one passing reference in Luke, and that’s it. Looking back, 2nd and 3rd and 4th centuries C.E., people wanted to know more about their human god.
About the writer:
Kent Dixon is a prize-winning writer with three Pushcart nominations and three Ohio Arts Council awards to his credit. His fiction and poetry have appeared in TriQuarterly, The Iowa Review, Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Gettysburg Review, Georgia Review and others. His nonfiction has appeared in The American Prospect, Florida Review, Kansas Quarterly, Energy Review, and others. He is recently retired from teaching Literature and Creative Writing at Wittenberg University. His graphic novel The Epic of Gilgamesh, co-authored with his son Kevin Dixon, is available now from Seven Stories Press. He lives with his wife Mimi in Springfield, Ohio.
Image: “Mother of Ice” from a series of images exploring “Gender-fluidity” by Thomas Hartley. Pencil and watercolour on cartridge paper. Original art available to purchase.
In the Artist’s own words:
My name is Tom Hartley and I am a 32-year-old fine artist from Scarborough in northern England, United Kingdom. I trained in fashion design for 4 years at Central Saint Martins University in London. I have worked as a pattern cutter and designer for Dior Couture and Vivienne Westwood. Following my time working in fashion, I decided to pursue a new career in fine art with my growing love of illustration. @thomashartleyart