Especially Richard Horsley has pointed out that 'social banditry' was typical for Galilee. It was a prepolitical and non-organised form of protest against injustice and resistance to occupation and its deleterious effects. Supposedly many of the bandits were dispossessed peasants, who were supported by the peasantry in Galilean villages Horsley Crossan and Reed argue that the reason for Jesus' itinerant lifestyle might not have been a voluntary abandonment of normal family life or some ideological reasons or of some crisis in the family relations, but simply a loss of everything because of the harsh taxation, strong indebtedness and bad crop.
A distinguishing view is offered by Horsley, who thinks it was just the strongly indebted peasant farmers in danger of losing their ancestral land who formed the Jesus movements. Horsley's description of peasant life in Galilean villages is also quite convincing, but from it one gets the impression that itinerancy was a choice of some followers of Jesus to spread the movement from village to village, not necessarily caused by extreme poverty and loss of land and permanent household Horsley So, first-century Galilee was mainly agricultural, with little fishing industry, and its population was economically strongly dependent on the wealthy elite, the majority of whom lived in Sepphoris and Tiberias, some even in Jerusalem.
The elite lived by depriving the Galilean rural population, with no direct connection to the ordinary people. Their agents collected taxes, and usually the villagers had the opportunity to deal with minor legal things themselves in local assemblies, the synagogues.
The poverty in Galilee is also reflected by the fact that almost no remains of storage buildings for grain or other products have been found in archaeological excavations in Galilee and no shops at all. The Galileans seem to have consumed all they produced. Having paid the rents, taxes, loan remissions and interests there simply was nothing left to trade with. Literacy was even more limited in Judea and Galilee than in the rest of the Roman Empire.
Writing was confined mainly to scribal circles and high priestly administrations. Oral communication dominated at all levels of the society, completely so in the villages Horsley Horsley notes that. So, too, it also calls into question the frequent assumption that early Christians were also literate and quickly also became a 'people of the book. Even if the Galilean villagers would have had possession of some scrolls, which they most probably did not, they would not have understood it read to them, because they spoke a dialect of Aramaic that deviated from the Hebrew of the sacred texts.
They would have known the existence of the sacred scriptures, because it was deposited in the Temple and supposedly to be read or rather recited on ceremonial occasions. Some fragmentary knowledge of the scripture may also have been mediated to villagers through Pharisees and other scribal representatives of the temple-state. Having some knowledge of the scriptures and even the ability to recite them did not, however, mean literacy in the sense of ability to read Horsley , Most probably, Jesus could not read or write Oakman The social stage of Jesus and his family is not easy to determine.
All the archaeological evidence from the Roman period points to a simple peasant existence at Nazareth. It also points to a Jewish Nazareth.
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The size of the village was small. Many scholars are of the opinion that the poor in Galilee were small farmers with inadequate or barren land, or serfs on large estates. Under heavy taxation and debts they lived continuously at subsistence level or below it. Typical to Mediterranean peasantry, they most probably practiced viticulture, arboriculture and agriculture and had a vegetable diet, supplemented by yoghurt and cheese, and in rare occasions with poultry, lamb or beef. Productivity was relatively low.
Excess peasant labour may be devoted to craft specialisation if agricultural opportunities dwindle and tax pressures are high Oakman Many peasants had lost their ancestral land. Also surplus children of peasant households were often forced to leave the village in search of livelihood Lenski In Friesen's categories the majority of the farmers would have belonged to groups 6 and 7.
It seems to me that in the first-century-Galilee many families moved from group 6 to group 7 and even to slavery. When it comes to Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark there is a brief mention of his trade: he was a tekton. Indeed, tekton basically means a builder of any kind. So, Jesus was not necessarily a carpenter or a 'wood-worker, who made doors or furniture for the stone or mud-brick houses and ploughs and yokes for farmers' Brown A tekton could have referred as well to a sculptor or - most probably in this case - to a craftsman who works at the buildings made of stone Batey When the Romans built Sepphoris they certainly used local people, both slaves and waged labourers from nearby villages.
If Jesus' family had the same difficulties that almost every family at that time had, they could not afford a large family and some members of the family had to leave farming and find a job elsewhere Oakman It looks like Jesus was despised because he had worked in the Roman building project, constructing a pagan city of Sepphoris. If this were the case, Jesus might not be compared to 'a blue collar worker in lower-middle-class America' Meier He spoke about debts, and taught his disciples to pray for the forgiving of debts Mt ; Lk ; Lk At least from the beginning, the Jesus movement seemed to be 'a movement of the poor for the poor' Stegemann The third part of Herod the Great's kingdom, the areas north and east of the Lake of Galilee, including Decapolis, was given to Herod's son Philip.
The kingdom of Herod was re-established by Emperor Claudius CE , who gave the areas ruled by Herod's sons to Herod's grandson and the emperor's good friend Agrippa.
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The new governor first appeared tolerant to Jewish inhabitants of the territory, but his rule was to become fatal for the Jesus-believing Jews in Jerusalem: according to Acts 12 he was responsible for the persecution that killed James the brother of John, son of Zebedee. After Agrippa's death the rule of Palestine was again given under direct Roman rule. The procurators of the period CE were, however, 'of low calibre, vicious and dishonest, provoking intense unrest by their injustice' Brown Their misrule gave rise to Sicarii knife-wielding terrorists, who attacked especially pro-Roman Jewish elites , Zealots ruthless adherents of the Law , and a major Jewish revolt against the Romans the Jewish war in CE.
The Roman legions led by Vespasian marched from Syria to Judea to quell the revolt. When Vespasian became an Emperor after Nero, his son Titus conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and burned the city. Most of the surviving Jews, including the Jesus-believers who did not take part of the armed revolt, had to leave the city Brown The defeat in the Jewish war and the religious crisis followed by the destruction of the temple made life for Jews everywhere in the Empire difficult.
They were now publicly shamed. The war inevitably increased poverty in Palestine. The Jews were obliged to pay a new punitive tax of two drachmas for the support of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome. The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.
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Friesen, S. Early Christian explanations of poverty', in S. Holman ed. Garnsey, P. Gottwald, N.
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Horsley ed. Hanson, K. Horsley, R. Kloppenborg Verbin, J.
Lenski, G. Malina, B. Meier, J.
Rethinking the historical Jesus. Oakman, D. Reed, J. Lovering ed. Rohrbaugh, R. Sanders, E. Stegemann, E. Dean Jr. Stegemann, W. Received: 04 Mar. Project leader: A. Dr Andries G. When viewed from the perspective of all human societies, the similarities clearly outweigh the differences, but internal variations and important subtypes among the classification system exist A good description of the living conditions of the wealthy elite is given by Malina Oakman also describes the distinctive situations concerning debt between Judaea and Galilee p.
Sanders, the number of the priests and Levites serving at the Jerusalem temple was 20 , but not all were full-time Sanders Malina and Rohrbaugh ; a more comprehensive description is offered by Malina The grain was distributed monthly to the all Roman citizens at a low price. Brown It was earlier presupposed that there were some Israelite population still living in Galilee when the Hasmoneans took over the dominance of the area, which would have explained the somewhat opposing attitudes of the Galileans towards Judea and the Jerusalem Temple.
This presupposition is still supported by for example Kloppenborg Verbin, who accounts on the pre-Judean Israelite population in Galilee She also raised a good question, whether the Court of the Gentiles was built in order to Romanise also the temple and to bring more pilgrim money to Herodian coffers. It might be that Herod wanted both to be a good Roman client-king and a honored King of the Jews - a dichotomy that is called 'schizophrenia of his rule' by Crossan and Reed Oakman writes: 'The very different depictions of Galilee in Sanders and Horsley offer a case in point.
Sanders sees no real basis for conflict under "the good Herods," while Horsley perceives a "spiral of violence. Sanders' picture of a Galilee ruled by benevolent despots with enlightened tax policies seems influenced by unwarranted political assumptions. Horsley's use of peasant studies, and sensitivity to the political realities of a colonial situation provides him with a very distinctive perspective on conditions under client rulers.
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Horsley's view to resistance and revolt also at times of 'peace' pp. See also the different opinions on the harshness of the taxation in Galilee Oakman Josephus might, however, exaggerate the devastation, since no archaeological evidence is found from the site that fits to the destruction of the whole city. This kind of a fishing boat was found from the mud near ancient Magdala in and is now seen at Yigal Allon Museum, Kibbutz Ginnosar cf.
However, this particular boat seems to have been built of used material and repaired several times until it was finally totally rejected, which led Crossan and Reed argue: 'Herod Antipas's commercial kingdom didn't launch a fishing or mercantile fleet on the lake' p. There is no evidence of priests belonging to the elite of either of the Galilean cities in the First Century, even though after the First Revolt CE and especially after the Second Jewish Revolt CE the cities became centers of former priests and Jewish education Kloppenborg Verbin Meier's note: 'Indeed, for all the inequities of life, the reign of Herod Antipas 4 B.
It was no accident that he ruled longer than any other Herodian king or prince, with the exception of Agrippa II'. Meier does not say on what premises he bases his estimation. Crossan's and Reed's calculations are based on topography and archaeological evidence. Luke, likewise depending on Mark's text, omits the trade entirely, Luke However, even though Meier regards Jesus as a wood-worker, he considers it possible but not probable that Jesus worked in Sepphoris for a while p.