In historian Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's book, Leftism: from de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse (page 112), he says that:

As for the "Son of the carpenter," we should know that tekton in Greek means carpenter as well as house-builder, architect, contractor...

Jesus is often depicted as a humble carpenter, but these other possible translations seem much less humble (perhaps even middle or upperclass). Which translation most closely matches Scripture in connotation and denotation?

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    It's probably worth pointing out that in Biblical times, and for a thousand years after that, a carpenter was a skilled craftsman and therefore would have been considered educated compared with most people. Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 17:18
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    I've heard several conjectures about other professions, "mason" being maybe the most credible alternative, but this sounds wildly speculative (and doesn't jive which my knowledge of the era, what would being an "architect" even entail in Nazareth of that day?). Could you edit this question with a book reference for this claim? A good answer might actually thoroughly debunk this but it would be better to do so based on the actual argument made rather than a hear-say one.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 17:51
  • @Caleb are those edits an improvement?
    – Jayson Virissimo
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 6:04
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    The edit helps, but now the evidence you cite contradicts the very premise of your original question. The citation you gave doesn't actually show the assertion that architect should be preferred over the rest of the lexical possibilities and it is now apparent that you are making the jump to middle or upper class, not the cited author.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 7:04
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    Now we have a new problem: the "what translation is best" question is off topic for this site entirely. Since this is no longer asking for what the basis is for an assertion (which the author cited doesn't make) and this has turned into a translation verification question I'm going to migrate it to Biblical Hermeneutics where such a question would be on topic and better addressed.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 7:07

2 Answers 2


I have consulted Thayer, Young, Bauer, Strong and also Liddell & Scott regarding the word τεκτων tektwn Strong 5045 and there is general agreement that 'carpenter' is the best rendering suitable. See Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.

But it should be noted that the lexicons make it clear that the word also has a general meaning of 'artificer' and even the specific carpentry meaning could involve shipbuilding and house-building, rather than general woodwork.

Liddel & Scott also notes that 'rarely' the word has been used in Greek literature to refer to metal-working and it should be noted that τηκο, teko, means 'to melt' Strong 5080.

From all this evidence it seems to me to be safe to say that Joseph was an artificer or craftsmen of some kind and it is likely that he worked in wood but also possible that he worked with metal or with both materials.

It should also be noted that αρχιτεκτων architektwn Strong 753 is a master-builder. See I Corinthians 3:10.


Quite aside from Masons (and I didn't know they believed Jesus and Joseph to be stone layers,) there was apparently quite a lot of work available for stone masons in Jesus' hometown of Nazareth, as the Romans were building an amphitheater in (I believe) Galilee for the presentation of Greek theater and other amusements of the time. As you might expect, it was a very long-term project. Add to that the fact that there was a lot more rock than trees in the region one can see good reason to allow that Joseph and Jesus may well have been stone masons rather than carpenters. It doesn't really matter though, does it?

  • The stones in common houses were from the bedrock to ground-level for the foundation.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 23:40

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