Was Jesus Poor?
Why should we care what income level Jesus lived at?
There has been a lot of academic Biblical scholarship which points towards the idea that Jesus was poor, a peasant leading a revolt of fellow peasants. This then bleeds over into theological speculation, and has tended to be harnessed to a class consciousness, even class warfare explanation of the Gospels. Eventually stuff like this does, and has, filtered down into the pulpits.
But is it correct?
Dr. David Fiensy, retired Dean of the Graduate School of Bible and Ministry at Kentucky Christian University, author of half a dozen books on Biblical archeology (including the excellent Christian Origins and the Ancient Economy LINK) and participant in seven archeological digs in the Holy Land, especially in Jesus’ region of Galilee answers that question in this short video.
Jesus was a ‘tekton’ a carpenter. As he points out, carpenters were more than handymen of craft workers, they were builders, often working with stone masons on frames, scaffolds, etc. This was not a life of poverty. It was better than the truly poor by far and usually better even than the life of a small farmer.
Was He rich? Not likely. He wasn’t exactly middle class either because int eh 1st century Israel, there really did not exist a middle class, a rising group between worker and nobility. But there was a ‘middling class’ meaning someone richer than a peasant and poorer than the nobles. People of Jesus’ background generally found themselves in that group.
Here’s a short video in which Professor Fiensy explains these distinctions.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.