I saw a video of Cesar Vidal and he said, that probably, Jesus was a middle-high class in economic sense, during the period of life before public ministry. I need historical references.
In order to address this question I have a few initial notes:
Before he started his wandering ministry, Jesus was a carpenter, meaning that he was of the small artisan class. Artisans were one of the only small social classes that had more economic means than the common class (the plebs) but were not in the highest social strata. So we can say Jesus came from a family with some, but small economic means. When he became a itinerant Rabbi, he relied on the charity of others (as was common for itinerant Rabbis) but he had the social clout of being a Rabbi.
In sum, the answer is complicated.
(Most of this info came from my college course on Wealth and Poverty in Christian History and from The Good of Affluence by John Schneider Chapter 5, near pages 123).
While this topic is heavily debated, Scripture records an interesting detail in Luke 2. When presented at the table, Joseph and Mary bring the appointed sacrifice:
In Leviticus 14:21, we understand this was the sacrifice of the poor:
This, along with the fact that Nazareth was teeny, tiny village outside of Sepphoris together draws a picture of a poor family.
Now, others have taken the gifts of the wise men in Matthew to suggest that Joseph and Mary eventually came into some money. (Who knows, maybe Joseph pulled a Gary Coleman on Jesus and sold the stuff for himself!)
In any event, by the time of Jesus' ministry, it is pretty apparent that he is poor. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to square a "better off" Jesus with Matthew 8:20:
And, considering Jesus' "preference for the poor" in Luke, it all comes together to suggest a less than rich Jesus.
Regardless, these Scriptural clues have made the traditional argument to be that Jesus was poor, although some modern theologians have constructed cases for a richer Jesus.
In addition to the answers already provided, I would like to draw your attention to a passage from Luke 8:1-3:
That Jesus and His disciples had to rely on the donations of women (many of whom did not have their own source of income and so could not have given much), implies that they were far from wealthy.
Dr. Adam Bradford wrote a book called 'The Jesus Discovery', in which he argues that Jesus was probably a (former) member of the religious elite who turned against them. This is evidenced by their behavior toward him, and and surprising respect they showed him (at least in public). He also makes the argument that the tradition that Joesph was a carpenter comes from a mistranslated Greek word, and that he was probably more akin to a modern day architect than a wood worker, and therefore would have had the means to send his son on to a high level of education.
Here is a debate on a UK radio program, between the author and new testament scholar, David Instone-Brewer, about this theory.
Paul describes himself as an imitator of Christ and as an 'architekton' (1 Cor 3:10) - a master tekton. Slater's lexicon translates tekton as architect. Priests trained as tektons to build the temple of Herod (Josephus' Antiquities). It would have taken devout Jewish tektons to train priests. I.e. like Joseph (Matt 1:19).
Jesus went to the Temple when lost (Luke 2). Presumably because he was known there + so would get looked after until Mary + Joseph caught up with him. He is admitted there as a 12 year old into the company of the Doctors of Law (Luke 2), presumably because they knew Joseph.
The offering for the poor was not means-tested. Any Jew, however rich, could make it, e.g. if they were at odds with the Sadduccee's corruption.
In any event Joseph received the Magis gifts after that. These were rich Babylonians making kingly gifts because they considered Jesus to be a king. There were enough of them to 'disturb Herod and all of Jerusalem' (Matt 2:3). They opened treasure-chests (plural) of the 3 most expensive items of the day. Much more wealth than needed for 2 years in Egypt.
Jesus had a house in Capernaum (Mark 2:1). He had 'nowhere to lay his head' because he spent so much time travelling and ministering.
Judas could steal from their money-box without it being immediately obvious (John 12:6).
I recommend Bradford's The Jesus Discovery.
protected by Affable Geek Dec 20 '12 at 21:48
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