Was Jesus Rich or Poor?

Here’s an interesting hypothesis I have never really considered before — perhaps Jesus was well-to-do. From CNN:

(CNN) — Each Christmas, Christians tell stories about the poor baby Jesus born in a lowly manger because there was no room in the inn.

But the Rev. C. Thomas Anderson, senior pastor of the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona, preaches a version of the Christmas story that says baby Jesus wasn’t so poor after all.

Anderson says Jesus couldn’t have been poor because he received lucrative gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh — at birth. Jesus had to be wealthy because the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for his expensive undergarments. Even Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, lived and traveled in style, he says.

“Mary and Joseph took a Cadillac to get to Bethlehem because the finest transportation of their day was a donkey,” says Anderson. “Poor people ate their donkey. Only the wealthy used it as transportation.”

This argument seems to be trying to position Jesus more as a real person who worried about money and getting by, and perhaps when he wanted to buy something he used the “there will always be poor” rationalization. It’s a subtle point with potentially big implications. What were the gradations of poverty back in the time of Christ, and where did he and his family stand in comparison?

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7 responses

  1. Jesus and the disciples were walking through a field and his guys picked some ears of grain and ate them. How does that fit in to the ‘life, liberty and property’ model?

  2. It is always wonderful to hear from the “Jesus wants you to be rich,” crowd. Unfortunately, if indeed Jesus (Joshua son of Joseph) was Jewish as seems to been the case, and observed Jewish dietary laws, as also is very likely, he or his family or poor Jewish folks of the time (most of the people), did not eat donkeys, mules, horses or zebras. These equines do not “chew their cud” or have “split hooves” and one assumes they were not “Kosher.”

    One wonders what Jesus/Joshua would think of the obnoxious expenditures for construction of “houses of worship” and paychecks grabbed by evangelists in His name.

    The economics of the region prior to and during Roman occupation is well documented by mumerous scholars such as John Dominic Crossan, Paul Eddy, Bruce Chilton, Gerd Ludemann and others. That there was a merchant class sometimes well off is clear (indeed Paul’s family may have acquired Roman citizenship by purchase). There was less of a slave economy than in Rome (30-50% slaves in Rome proper and elsewhere). The rural and agricultural economy was dominat but heavily taxed by Rome.

  3. Great point, Donald. You can also see a parallel in today’s economy, where people are reluctant to sell the car they drive to work for grocery money.
    I’ve seen enough sad pictures of poor people with their emaciated cattle and mules to think that eating your only piece of farm equipment would only be the most desperate measure, and a person would endure poverty for a long time before considering it.

  4. Indeed, but the added prohibition of religion, at times with the force of law, disallowing eating of “unclean” animals would have been the determining factor. Of course, roasting the plow horse or the firwoon/straw carrying, or Mary carrying donkey not only spoils Nativity scenes, it would have been an act against the scriptural dietary laws in Leviticus as I recall.

  5. True, and there are many examples of poor people, historical and current, going hungry rather than violate their religion. Not a comfortable thought for those of us who are better off.

  6. Jesus Was Rich. There are 25 evidences for this in the Bible.

    Check out the book named “While on earth Jesus was not poor and He doesn’t want us to stay poor too”, which is written with 25 Biblical evidences.

    It is available in
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0065IGHIA

    just read the sample pages first..its mind blowing

    I got 100% clarification after reading this book. Whatever doubt you have, the answer is there in this book.

    1. Just go to the source and read the New Testament.

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