Monday, December 30, 2013

Jesus was Middle Class

A fantastic piece in the American Thinker concerning one of the more pernicious myths about Jesus:
Over the centuries, church thinking has turned poverty into nearly a sacrament. So it becomes impossible to refer to people in the Bible without exaggerating how poor they were. Holiness demands proof of poverty to establish legitimacy.

Glamorizing poverty encourages more suffering and the spread of poverty by depriving the poor of opportunities for practical help. The best thing we can do for the poor is help them no longer be poor, not laud them in song and story. The poor would rather have a new business to give them a job than hear poems and toasts romanticizing their poverty.
Jesus was a skilled craftsman, a carpenter, in a region where wood was more of a premium material than we think of today. Americans are used to vast forests. Then, carpentry was more of an art. Modern tools, fittings, stains, glues, and measurement were not available. One could not buy a bag of standardized ten-penny nails at Home Depot, but painstakingly fashioned wooden pins one at a time. One could not afford to waste wood. In Galilee, valuable cedar was imported from Lebanon.

The Bible reports that Jesus was referred to as "the carpenter's son." His father Joseph would have trained his first-born. Children worked. Apprenticeship in a trade was their education, along with study of the scriptures. One would have to view Jesus as a totally irresponsible son not to faithfully and diligently continue the family carpentry shop -- at least before His ministry for His other Father. In fact, Jesus preached on a son's responsibility to his parents.

Joseph lived among Jews but had rich Greeks among his clientele. Across the valley from Nazareth was the huge Greek luxury city of Sepphoris where wealthy ruling-class households offered a steady demand for upscale, high-priced furniture. Rich communities in the Eastern Roman Empire demanded luxury on a scale that even our decadent ruling class today can scarcely imagine. A carpentry business in the vicinity of Sepphoris would attract high-paying clients with great quantities of business.

So Jesus was middle class, probably upper middle-class, on a level comparable to an accountant or an architect in today's society. O'Reilly allows that Jesus probably worked in the Sepphoris building boom in its later years, yet thinks Jesus rarely ate fish or meat. If Jesus worked on-site building houses, he spent a lot of time around wealthy Greeks. He could afford to eat hearty, would dress suitably for a worker visiting an upscale community, and would maintain good relations in business with rich people.
Read the whole thing here.

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