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Politics of Jesus

June 24, 2015


Persians established priestly govt centred on temple

Priests on behalf of emperor

their sacrifices relied on to make land fertile

22/28 priests in Roman period from one family – not proper priestly family of Zadok so sacrifices seen as illegitimate – Qumran

Taxes – up to 40%

whatever else, cleansing temple was thread to what was basically a bank

parable of sower – what scorches and devours is Herod and tax collectors – soil is good when belings to God and produces more than enough – so why are peasants starving?

render to Caesar…and to God i.e. give him his coin back if he gives God’s land back


peasants lost land – 2% owned nearly all the land

had to hire themselves out by the day – families broke up as not enough land – sons went to larger villages and hired themselves out cf. labourers in vineyard

no security

called bandits – yet Jesus turned on head when said temple was house of bandits

village structure breaking down

villages run by ‘elders of the people’- magistrates – rulers left them alone providing they paid taxes – took ten villagers to support one middle-class town beaurocrat

barter among villagers to avoid economic system with its taxes. Jesus’s father a tekton – general handyman – would be useful for odd jobs without money payment.

people felt guilty – their fault – so sacrifices to get in with God – kept the temple system going – Jesus offered instant forgiveness – scribes felt monopoly threatened – healing of paralytic

Talents parable mirrors:

nobleman goes to far country to receive kingly power

his servants expand his power by usury

his people resented him

Always corruption

but Jewish king had duty to defend orphan, widow

Persian, Greek and Roman kings did not

Anarchic groups

 Dead Sea Scrolls – hopes for revolt against the ‘wicked priests’

Pharisees refused oath to Herod – brotherhoods for rigorous Torah study – developed system to impose on all people – so when Jesus criticises law he’s criticising worldview pumped out by ‘media’ of day


Sage/scribe – worked for priesthood but kept Torah alive but worked as bureaucrats for establishment

Apocalyptic visionaries who looked for 2nd Exodus to free people and overthrow government – Jesus said he worked by ‘the finger of God’ – direct quote from Moses


 Essenes went into desert to start alternative community – Jesus comes from the desert to establish alternative community within the present

 feasting – people equal – reputation for eating and drinking with outcast – enjoying life instead of obeying Torah

equals – become like children, women in contrast to rabbis – ‘How hard for those with riches’

puts needs of a destitute woman before synagogue head, debates with gentile woman and gives way to her

Cleanses temple – ‘thieves’ – have robbed land and religion from poor

Lord’s Prayer mirrored kaddish:

Magnified and sanctified be his great name in the world that he has created according to his will. May he establish his kingdom in your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of all the house of Israel, even speedily and at a near time.

‘You who have followed me (when all is made new JB) in the restoration when the Son of Man shall sit on his glorious throne… Matt 19:28 – restoration of land to the people

…shall sit on thrones judging – term used of liberating – judging rich to have robbed and giving back cash to poor

Gerasene demoniac – legion – land possessed by Romans – thrown into unclean pigs into sea – like Pharaoh at Exodus

slow movement – build up community – mustard seed, seed growing secretly

leave families – new family

have faith small as mustard seed – move mountain – temple mount

1st action is to break the law and eat shewbread, heal on Sabbath, eat with unwashed hands

share possessions – rich young ruler told to sell and give

Non violent resistance – will lead to crucifixion but cannot crucify everybody c.f. Gandhi, ML King

veil of temple – end to hierarchy

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