Could you please help enlighten me – I am trying to research what happened to Joseph. He assumed loco parentis during his early childhood, his geneology was respectfully referred to as if he were blood related , which in itself confuses me, as we don’t suppose he was his father. I can see no reference of marriage to Mary, so explains that she did not appear to become a widow, so what happened to Joseph?
I do not know about in loco parentis as this is a Latin/Roman technical term, not one used by the Jews, but I think we can say that Joseph and Mary did something akin to this. The Bible does not provide us with much information. I assume this is because God does not think it is particularly important for us to focus in on the exact nature of the familial relationship, the details of how Joseph and Mary raised Jesus, the age of Jesus when Joseph died and other such details. In fact, the gospels are extremely streamlined accounts which focus only on the absolutely essential aspects of the life of Jesus.
What I believe we can glean from the evidence we have is that Joseph "adopted" Jesus as his son and treated him as his natural son until the time he died. Scripture treats this as a very gracious act on the part of Joseph, which I believe it was. The Bible does not actually state that Joseph married Mary, but it implies it in no uncertain terms because Joseph and Mary traveled to Jerusalem with Jesus and their other children when Jesus was twelve years old. The fact that the Bible does not supply the timing of the death of Joseph simply means that the gospel writers (and presumably God) did not see this information to be sufficiently important to record in the gospels. I believe your research into the fate of Joseph will reach a dead end pretty soon because all we have is the biblical record, plus the speculations of various Bible scholars, but their speculations are not evidence and you can probably reasonably extrapolate what happened to Joseph about as well as these scholars. I believe that there will be a consensus that Mary became a widow some time between the time Jesus was twelve years old and the time when he began his ministry; at an age somewhat over the age of thirty. We know that Joseph was descended from David, both because of the genealogy in Matthew and because of the fact that he and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, the city of David, for the census. Because of the genealogy in Luke, which many scholars believe is accounted through Mary, not Joseph, we can see that Jesus is descended from David through his mother as well. About Joseph’s parenthood, it is true that Jesus is considered biblically as the son of Joseph as far as his descent goes. Of course, we as Christians are also "adopted" as sons and daughters of God through the blood of Jesus. God considers this adoption just as if we were truly children of God. In his grace, God also reckoned Jesus the legitimate son of Joseph. For me, what others think of given that God considered him as descended from David through Joseph, I am not particularly concerned whether certain Jewish traditions would agree with this assessment. Of course, I am coming from the perspective of one who believes the Bible is inspired by God, so I cannot expect or assume that a skeptic or a Jew sees the New Testament the same way I do. However, I believe the conclusions I give above are consistent with the evidence we have and with the biblical view of Jesus and his relationship with his father. John Oakes