Did Joseph marry before he was married to Mary?

We don’t know for sure. The Gospel is silent about Joseph’s life prior to his betrothal to Mary. The tradition that he was an older man and a widower comes from apocryphal sources, namely the Protoevangelium of James, written around AD 150. This text is not considered to be divinely inspired and thus does not have the same weight as Sacred Scripture, though it’s certainly possible that parts of it could be true. Wherever the truth lies, this nonbiblical view of Joseph as an older man has had a profound impact on artists over the centuries, many of whom depict him as having gray hair. But the Scriptures themselves don’t reveal anything about either Joseph’s age or his past marital status, so there is no way of knowing whether Mary was his first spouse or his second.


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