I’m a convinced deist and cradle Christian who is exploring Christianity again. The question of Mary and Joseph’s age, especially Mary’s, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her has been bothering me as of late. I understand that the Bible does not offer many clues. If you look online, the most common answer seems to be that Mary was extremely young - 12-14 years old, although others says she was 15-20 or even an older woman like Elizabeth. I have three questions:
- Was the average age of marriage for Jewish girls in the 1st century really 12 or 13? Nutrition and body fat heavily influence the age at which girls get their periods. The average age that a girl in the 17th century began to menstruate was around 16. Surely girls in the Biblical era, especially a poor one like Mary, would not have been physically capable of bearing children at 12 or 13? And even if they were able to, was the average age of marriage really only 12 or 13?
- Even if the average age of marriage for Biblical Jewish girls was that young, surely our all-knowing, loving God would not have selected such a young child to give birth to His son? A mature (and Mary was certainly mature!) 15 or 16 year old I can understand, but 12? Perhaps God chose a woman older than average to bear His son? Even if it was normal for young girls to have children back then it was not right, and I cannot see how our God would have impregnated a child. He gave Elizabeth a son even though she was far older than the average first time mother, so why not Mary?
- How much older than Mary was Joseph?