The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16164 Message #1069560
Posted By: Joe Offer
10-Dec-03 - 01:50 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Mary Mild / Bitter Withy / Holy Well
Subject: Jesus and Joses
Aw, I was hoping for a song about Jesus and Joses in Belden, but all I found was a brief entry. Here is the entire entry from Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society (H.M. Belden, editor, 1940/1955):
Jesus and Joses
The following, a folk-legend, not a song, seems to be related in spirit and by its curse upon the willow tree, tho not in the motivation of the story, to the ballad of The Bitter Withy — for which see G. H. Gerould in PMIJA XXIII 141- 67 and Barry in JAFL XXVII 79-89. It was sent to me in 1914 by H. A. Chapman of the Missouri School of Mines at Rolla.
To counter what Tinker said, I think I'd say we should be careful to neither dismiss nor canonize the "Christian Apocrypha." It's true that these writings were not accepted into the Canon of Scripture, but they still can provide fascinating insights into the spirituality and folklore of the early days of Christianity. At times, they can provide insight into the writings that were recognized as part of Scripture. Still, there was a reason these writings aren't canonical - they do not define the core beliefs of the Christian faith. I don't think it was so much a matter of suppression, although I suppose there may have been some of that - to put it simply, let's just say they just didn't make it into the major leagues. Believers didn't accept them as scripture.
'I have known for some time that the mountain folk had a fear or prejudice against the willow tree; and some time back I heard an explanation that may be the reason. An old man who trapped south of Warrensburg [Johnson County] gave it to me.
'"When Jesus was a child he had a brother named Joses, who tho younger was much larger and stronger. Near where they lived were willows, and Joses would tell fibs about Jesus to Mary and then bring willow switches for her to punish him (Jesus) with (to be exact, he said 'God rot it'). And the willow always brings bad luck, rots quicker than any tree and if a child is punished with it he will have much suffering and will die before he is old."
But they've got some really great stories in them.