[Marxism] Which prophets really existed ?

Joseph Catron jncatron at gmail.com
Sat Sep 22 11:43:55 MDT 2012

On Sat, Sep 22, 2012 at 7:28 PM, Wythe Holt jr. <wholt at law.ua.edu> wrote:

Jesus makes sense, from what Horsley has found, NOT as the prophet of some
> new religion, but as one of many Jewish peasants (and bourgeois) in the
> period ca. 100 BCE - 70 CE who were upset at the Grecization and then
> Romanization of Palestine and the concomitant enrichment of a few
> highfalutin families of Jews who went over to the conquerors' cultures and
> lifestyles.

You, and perhaps Horsley, are conflating first-century Palestinian
identities in a way that obscures something important. Jesus, according to
all accounts of which I am aware, was a Galilean, not a Judean. Both groups
practiced variations of the Hebrew religion, but they were culturally,
politically, and spiritually distinct. (In fact, there doesn't seem to be
much of a consensus about who exactly the Galileans were, ethnically
speaking.) "Judean" is universally translated as "Jew" today - and this has
some arguable basis in truth, as modern Jews, minus 50,000 Karaites, are
heirs of the Judeans' Pharisees - but Jesus was, in any event, neither.

This is something that has somehow been lost on most modern readers of the
Bible, both casual and professional. If Jesus seems to go hard on the
"Jews," accusing them of elitism and hypocrisy, it doubtlessly has
something to do with him being part of an ethnic minority Judeans generally
despised. The parable of the Good Samaritan actually isn't as condescending
as it appears at first glance: The Galileans' standing among Judeans, to
whom Jesus was preaching at the time, wasn't much better than that of the
Samaritans. And needless to say, none of this helped the whole "King of the
Jews" thing go over very well.

> Jews were mostly peasant farmers (though by 70 CE their full identity as
> "Jews" was not yet established)

If you're defining "Jews" as "followers of the ancient Hebrew religion,"
for most, it never was. Many Judeans, Galileans, and Samaritans remained in
Palestine, converted to Islam and/or Christianity, and became some of the
many ancestors of today's Palestinians. Today a tiny minority of Samaritans
remain. Despite their minuscule numbers (http://thesamaritanupdate.com),
and "Israel" grudgingly affording them the rights of Jews under its
apartheid laws, they have done more than their share of fighting for
Palestine. I remember a Palestinian released in the October prisoner
exchange - I believe it was Chris Bandak, the Christian from the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigade - speaking of the warm relations his prisons' Palestinian
detainees enjoyed with its Samaritan anti-Zionists. (Muslims and Christians
descended from Samaritans are, of course, all over the place, including
eight families in Gaza.) That said, I'm the furthest thing in the world
from an expert on Samaritans, and hope to sit down and read a good book or
two on their story one of these years, if such things exist.

Anyway, there's no telling what percentage of ancient Hebrews became modern
Jews, but it would, in any event, be very small and drawn entirely from one
subset: the Judeans.

> Joseph (Jesus's father) is described as a "tekton," a Greek word usually
> mistranslated by the true-believer translators as "carpenter" but much
> better translated as "handyman; farm laborer".  A "carpenter" would have
> been a respected artisan, whereas a landless, roving "handyman" would have
> been at the very bottom of the local social scale.

Now that's interesting! You really do learn something new every day ...

"Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen

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