“Joseph [was] ‘just’ [not in the spirit of Caiaphas, but] in the prophetic spirit of [John] the Baptist, and thus awed by the mystery he faced and respectful of its remove from the ordinary. . . . [H]aving been told by Mary of the Annunciation as soon as it took place, and thus well before any outward sign of Mary’s pregnancy became evident, [and] being at the same time a man imbued with a profound sense of surrender to God’s plans and . . . an equally profound sense of that fear of God that precludes divulging the depth of a mystery, [Joseph] decide[s] to remove himself from the scene as unworthy to be publicly associated with the unfathomable” (92-93).
“Joseph accepts Mary’s report as to how she had conceived, and thus, far from being scandalized by assuming adultery, he is profoundly respectful of a divine intervention that seems to preempt his role as husband. He yields, rather than rejects. He releases (apolūsai) Mary, rather than casts her out (apolūsai)” (70).
“Joseph, having accepted at face value and with deep trust the young girl’s revelation that she had become pregnant through divine intervention, is so awed by her and the mystery she (literally) embodies, that he feels he is confronting God himself, in front of whom he should retreat and hide in his nothingness” (69).
But “The vision of the angel in a dream points him in a different direction: he is indeed a part of the mystery, and his role is to convey Mary, without delay, into his household” (63).