You know how Jesus learned to be a carpenter from His dad? At least, that’s what we usually learn in Sunday school. But was He really a carpenter Who built things with wood?
There’s a couple reasons to believe he wasn’t really a carpenter and was actually a stonemason! A stonemason is someone who builds primarily with, well, stone. When you see the word “carpenter” in the Bible, it’s most often translated from the Greek word tekton.
A tekton referred to a person who built things not just from wood or just from stone, but from all kinds of materials; a good English word for tekton could be “craftsman”, like a “craftsman of wood” in Isaiah 44:13. In Isaiah 41:7, tekton more closely describes a metalworker.
So why say that Jesus is a stonemason, and not a craftsman using all kinds of materials? Well, author Phil Ayres describes it like this in his book Flannelgraph Jesus,
“The gospel writer, Mark, points out that Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:3). But the Greek word he used for carpenter is tekton, which can be translated more so to mean someone who works with wood, stone, or any kind of building material.
“The Middle East is an arid climate with very few trees. So rather than see Jesus as a man who crafted tables and chairs out of wood, it’s better to picture Jesus as someone who built things out of stone. As a matter of fact, it would not be a stretch to call Jesus a stonemason.”
JD Mitchell offers another reason when answering a question on Quora,
“Jesus was fond of using illustrations drawn from everyday life, so think about his teachings. How many illustrations does he draw from the world of woodworking? Yep, zilch, nada. How many illustrations does he draw from building? The parable of the house built on sand, the collapsed tower at Galilee, the headstone in the corner, building his church on the bedrock, ‘I will rebuild the temple in 3 days’.”
I love learning these little facts hidden in the Bible, and how they bring the Bible to life and help me understand more about Jesus. Learn more about Jesus the tekton: