I found myself thinking about this one more time as I worked on my book What Jesus Learned From Women. I have written in the past about whether Jesus was considered illegitimate, using the implications of the interactions he has with his contemporaries as a more reliable guide than the specific things the gospel figures say. In addition to my article in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, see also Robert Miller’s article on Biblical odyssey website on the subject.
Jim Davila caught the eye has a recent article in Bible and interpretation who asks if Jesus was middle class. The first question must be whether there was a “middle class” in the ancient world. But to the extent that there were individuals who were the servants of those who were truly wealthy and had inherited status and influence, as well as people whose professions meant that they lived in more security and comfort. year after year as farmers who lived at a failed harvest of slavery or death, there was indeed a class between the majority of the peasants and the ruling elite. I think Jesus’ family was in that category. Whether they were there before the big construction works in Sepphoris, or whether they are masons, carpenters, construction workers, handymen, or whatever else that can be suggested as a translation of Joseph’s trade , during Jesus’ lifetime, he opposed it not because he was nobody (why would they care?) but because he frequented people of bad repute as someone they expected “better”. “. Authors Rosenfeld and Perlmutter write: “The philosophy of Jesus developed from the point of view of the middle class, not that of the poor. He was successful in attracting followers because he came from a solid background. ‘The wisdom of the poor is despised, and his words are not heard’ (Eccl. 9:16, ASV). If Jesus had come from a poor background, it would have been difficult for him to become a leader. “
Andrew Perriman also touched on a related topic on his blog: “Was Jesus one of the oppressed? I think the answer to this question is probably no. Clearly, Jesus associated and identified with the prostitutes and tax collectors, the outcasts, the sick and demoniacs, the poor and the abused, the innocent victims of systemic injustice. But nothing is said by him or by anyone else in the Gospels to suggest that he fell into any of these categories… ”
On the other hand, Gary Greenberg is not convinced not only that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (I certainly agree that Galilee is more likely) but that he had a reputation of being of Davidic origin.
Of related interest, Marc Bilby thinks he has solved the synoptic problem, and that Gospel of Marcion provides the key to rebuild Q. He shared his ideas online so you can read them by clicking on this link. I leave it to you to judge whether his enthusiasm for what he has proposed is justified. But it is relevant to the topic of this blog post, because in his opinion the original Q source “Represents Jesus, from first to last, as a new Aesop… an intelligent and wicked person, weak in the social poll totem who spoke the truth in power. He also claims that Jesus was a slave. And so it was worth mentioning here, although I haven’t yet figured out why Bilby is so excited about what he wrote. His proposal is certainly interesting and deserves to be closely examined and discussed. But is that all he thinks it is? It seems far too early to tell.
Again, I think I understood what Jesus wrote in the dust in John 8, so I shouldn’t be judging …
See also Ben Witherington’s multi-part interview with Helen Bond about his latest book, The First Biography of Jesus: Gender and Meaning in the Gospel of Mark. I barely dove in to see what it says about a specific story, and I’m already impressed and excited with what I found there! See also what PBS First line and Facts and details have to say on this topic.
What is your opinion on the socio-economic status of Jesus? Did you always assume that Jesus was poor, an outcast, someone who was helpless and marginalized? How should your understanding of the gospels change so that you see it differently?
Helen Bond’s First Biography of Jesus – Part Twenty-Four