Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

“Being a Man of Principle, and at the same time wanting to save her from exposure, Joseph made up his mind to have the marriage contract quietly set aside” (Matthew 1:19). In this 14th-century Byzantine mosaic from the narthex of the Hora Church in Istanbul, Turkey, we see Joseph (center) waving goodbye to his erstwhile fiancée (left); only after an angel informs him in a dream that the Holy Spirit has caused her pregnancy does Joseph change his mind and continue with his plan to marry her. Besides conceiving their sons outside of, or prior to, wedlock, all the women in Matthew’s list found themselves outside the normal patriarchal structures of Israelite and Jewish society, according to Schaberg, and were punished or stigmatized as a result. Likewise, each woman was brought back within the patriarchal system by a male protector whose actions ensured the legitimacy of both her and her child.