Is there any proof that Joseph of Arimathea went to the British Isles to procure tin and took the young Jesus with him? I came across this claim presented as historical research with a significant amount of “documentation” from ancient sources. I was not aware of any evidence for the “missing” years of Jesus’ life.
I had to do a little research on this, because I had never heard of this legend. And I call it legend for good reason. There is NO evidence at all to support this. It is the result of pure speculation. The only source I could find on this was from an Anglican Church (The Church of England) writer who, although he is biased, would himself admit that the story is the combination of speculation and sheer invention. This author speculates that some Jewish Christians in the first century had investments in the tin trade. This seems to me a bit unlikely, but not impossible. The problem with it is that there is no evidence it is true. The only historical fact in the entire story is that in the first century a large proportion of the tin available for making bronze in the Roman Empire did come from Cornwall in England. I have not seen the particular claim you make reference to (although it may be the one below), but I would imagine that this is the “documentation” you are referring to.
This Anglican author goes on to further speculate that it was these Jewish Christians who founded the Christian Church in England even before it came to Gaul. The problem with this speculation is that it is in fact pure speculation–without corroborating evidence. In any case, the author moves from speculation to pure invention (not invention by the author but by others) in the twelfth century when it was proposed that one of these supposed Jewish Christian traders was Joseph of Arimathea. Even more of a stretch–stretching things to the breaking point–English tale-tellers proposed that Jesus was a relative of Joseph of Arimathea and that he traveled with him to England as a teenager. To put this fable together, four assumptions which are totally without any basis in fact must be called upon:
1. That Jews in Palestine were involved in the tin trade in the first century.
2. That Joseph of Arimathea was involved in that trade.
3. That Jesus was related to Joseph. and
4. That Joseph took Jesus with him to Cornwall in England on one of this trips there.
That anyone would believe this fable is evidence that this person is really quite gullible. You did the wise thing, which is to be skeptical and ask if it has any basis in fact. The answer is no, it does not.
We do not know what Jesus did from the time he was twelve until he started his ministry at about the age of 32 or 33. Christians would do well to ignore all speculations in this topic. In an evidence-free zone such as this, unscrupulous authors will step in to offer interesting fiction, but we would do well to ignore such fiction. If God wanted us to know what happened to Jesus in his teens and twenties, presumably he would have told us in the Scripture.
I am including a paragraph on this story from a web site that I found. Every single thing is this paragraph is pure nonsense. Every claim, other than the fact that tin was mined in England is either pure speculation or utter invention. By the way the Talmud does NOT, I repeat, does NOT make Joseph of Arimathea the uncle of Mary. This goes beyond invention to pure lying. Or to put it as graciously as possible, the author includes as fact a claim which he found somewhere and accepts without making any effort whatsoever to confirm its truthfulness.
Joseph of Arimathea was the UNCLE of the Virgin Mary, as he was the younger brother of her father. This made him the GREAT UNCLE of Jesus Christ; the TALMUD records this fact. This was why he was the one who asked Pilate for the body of Jesus after the crucifixion; he was the legal guardian of Jesus, because Jesus’ step-father Joseph the carpenter had died in Jesus’ youth.
Joseph of Arimathea was a very wealthy tin merchant, and may have been the richest man in that part of the world at that time. He made many trips to Britain where he had tin mines. It is possible that Jesus Himself accompanied Joseph on voyages there during His childhood. Many ancient records testify to this.
In 36 A.D. Joseph and Mary and other disciples were exiled from Israel in a boat without oars for the crime of being believers in Christ. The boat drifted to Marseilles, France where they disembarked, and eventually went to Britain, where Joseph became the first Christian missionary, establishing Christianity on that continent FAR BEFORE Augustine arrived with Catholicism.
Source: Database on Ancestry.com
This nonsense is taken from the following web site: https://www.genealogieonline.nl/en/demmers-harmeijer-extended-family/I11065.php
Joseph Of Arimathea was born about 0038 BC in Arimathea, Judea, Israel, son of Matthat and Daughter Of Eleazar. He was married to Anna, they gave birth to 1 child. He died on July 27, 1982 in Abbey Of Glais, Glastonbury, Wales, Uk. This information is part of Demmers-Harmeijer Extended Family by Henny Carlisle on Genealogie Online.
Here is a more scholarly treatment of the legend of Joseph of Arimathea: http://www.bbc.co.uk/thepassion/articles/joseph_of_arimathea.shtml