The Economy of the Kingdom (Second part)

Was Jesus himself economically disadvantaged? Sentimental pictures have been painted of his lowly beginnings in a stable, as though he were homeless, but these are based on misreading of the Lukan narrative. Luke 2:1-7 portrays a small town swelled by the requirements of the Rome.instigated census. As Bethlehem probably had no public inns, Luke envisages a near-eastern peasant home in which family and animals slept in one enclosed space, with the animals located on a lower level. Mary and Joseph, then, would have been the guests of family or friends, but their home would have been so overcrowded that, upon his birth, the baby was placed in a feeding trough.

More to the point is the sacrifice offered by Jesus’ parents in 2:24: “a pair of turtledoves or two pigeons” – according to Lev 12:8 the prescribed offering for those unable to afford a yearling lamb. Furthermore, in his Galilean ministry Jesus is said to depend on the support of others (8:1-3). later, on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus says of himself that he has no place to lay his head (9:58), presumably an assertion about his lack of a home, but surely also a warning concerning the rejection to be expected of those who follow in his footsteps.

Jesus’ dependance on the benefaction of others (8:3) has already ruled out any picture in Luke of an ascetic Jesus who rejects outright the use of wealth. To this may be added the refrain of hid participation in dinner parties sufficiently ample that he could be characterized by others as a glutton and a drunkard (7:34; cf., e.g., 7:36; 11:37; 14:1-24; 19:1-27). In fact, throughout the Gospel Jesus interacts with peasants and with the wealthy; alle are needful of God’s good news. (From Joel B. Green, The Theology of the Gospel of Luke, Cambridge 1995, 112-113).

Simone Venturini


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