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[XTalk] Re: Jesus the Taxpayer

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  • Bill Skelton
    Jan: Very Good. We need to laugh a bit. And sometimes truth comes out best that way. Bill Skelton wskelto@ibm.net ... From: Jan Sammer
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 1999

      Very Good. We need to laugh a bit. And sometimes truth comes out best that

      Bill Skelton

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jan Sammer <sammer@...>
      To: crosstalk2@egroups.com <crosstalk2@egroups.com>
      Date: Saturday, August 28, 1999 3:13 PM
      Subject: [XTalk] Jesus the Taxpayer

      >I have just returned from the vault and a reading of Liz's article on
      >taxcollectors and the temple incident. An interesting example of how the
      >same evidence can be marshalled in the defense of two quite different
      >theories. In examining the gospels it is important to understand the
      >circumstances under which they were written and the purpose for which they
      >were written; if we succeed in doing that we have a handle on what to
      >discount and what to accept as historical. Since the earliest NT writings,
      >including Q, GMark and the "we" source of Acts date by all indications to
      >ca. 60 A.D., it is important to consider the political pressures of the
      >time, and the very purpose for which these earliest NT writings were
      >composed. The key event for the early Christians in that period was the
      >trial of Paul. In Acts it is made clear that Paul would have been freed had
      >he not appealed to the Court of Caesar. This indicates that the appeal had
      >purpose beyond the scope of a private dispute, which we can presume to be,
      >in line with Paul's entire effort up to that time, to secure official
      >recognition for his version of Judaism as a religio licita. But there could
      >only by one Jewish religio licita. Once Paul's adherents came to be
      >recognized as the one Jewish religio licita, the temple would have been
      >theirs by default. I have suggested that James, the brother of Jesus, was
      >being groomed as the one to take over the high priesthood.
      >Now if you want to persuade a man like Nero that he should put your sect in
      >charge of the temple, a major source of income for his treasury, one of the
      >best ways of doing that is to suggest to him that the current temple
      >administration is corrupt and not giving him his due. You depict Jesus, the
      >brother of your candidate for high priest, as a model taxpayer. In fact,
      >show by a vivid example that taxpaying was a favorite activity of Jesus'
      >family. In the midst of a tax revolt in Galilee and despite Mary's advanced
      >stage of pregrancy, the entire family treks across half the country to be
      >assessed for tax. When Jesus grows up, taxcollectors are some of his
      >favorite people, and he takes particular pleasure in sharing meals with
      >them. When asked if people should pay the poll-tax, he answers "by all
      >means" or words to that effect. Though by nature a peace-loving kind of
      >the one occasion when he loses control of himself is when he sees people
      >evading taxes. On a visit to the temple precinct he sees all kinds of
      >trading going on--the temple must be getting a cut, and pocketing it. Jesus
      >can forgive anything except tax evasion, so he takes out his bullwhip...
      >corrupt temple administration starts looking for a way of getting rid of
      >this man who tried to cut into their untaxed profits. They frame him and
      >him convicted on trumped up charges. They bully the kindly Roman governor
      >into acquiescence. Now a few decades later the brother of this man, James,
      >would like to be high priest. He's just as avid a taxpayer as his brother;
      >in fact, he is called James the Just, which should reassure the Emperor
      >under his authority the Temple will turn over to the Emperor's treasury
      >every last denarios that is the Emperor's due. This sort of thing runs in
      >the family.
      >Sorry if this sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I just wanted to suggest
      >that the running theme in the gospels, to which Liz pointed, can be
      >explained otherwise than as a reminiscence of the words and actions of the
      >historical Jesus.
      >Jan Sammer
      >Prague-Czech Republic
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