Jump to content

The Commonwealth Of God


Jeannot
 Share

Recommended Posts

THE COMMONWEALTH OF GOD: The Birth of Christianity.

 

Jesus dies in 30. Paul starts writing his letters about 50 or 55. What happened in between?

 

The years from 30 to 55 are key for understanding how the Jesus movement got its start. Of course we have the Book of Acts written in the 80's. But it presents only the stories of a few stars like Peter, John, and Paul, and their acolytes. How then do we get back to that decisive stage in history, since no clear, undisputed records exist?

 

The answer is many years of patient digging in various disciplines by many hands. John Dominic Crossan sums it up this way:

 

>Anthropology, history, and archeology came together

to form a picture of rural commercialization and

Roman urbanization [the cities of Sepphoris and Tiberias in Lower Galilee, for example] against Jewish

tradition and peasant resistance in Lower Galilee during the 20s of the first common-era century.

 

>That commercialization process set against one another those poor peasants who might be dispossessed tomorrow and those destitute peasants who had been dispossessed yesterday. It is those destitute landless ones and poor landed ones that the kingdom-of-God movement brings together as itinerants and householders.

 

In other words, the period of Roman control exercised through local Jewish rulers like Herod Antipas, created social disruption in the largely peasant communities of Galilee. The peasants were drained by taxes paid to Herod, to the Temple, and to Rome, as well as by road tolls. The cities were instruments of control, harboring agencies of government and a class of retainers, such as scribes, tax-collectors, and administrative bureaucracy.

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

The Seventy Apostles

 

>After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place

that he himself intended to visit. He would say to

them, "I'm sending you out like lambs into a pack of

wolves. Carry no purse, no knapsack, no sandals.

Don't greet anyone on the road. Whenever you enter a house, first say 'Shalom.' If peaceful persons live there, your peace will rest on them. But if not, it will return to you.

 

"Stay at that one house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for workers deserve their wages. Do not move from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they welcome you, eat whatever is set before you. Cure the sick there and tell them, 'God's commonwealth is here!' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to your feet, we wipe off against you. But know that you have rejected God's commonwealth.'

 

"I tell you, on that day, Sodom will be better off than that town!" (Luke 10:1-12)

 

Matthew, writing for a Jewish Christian community, adds, "Don't travel foreign roads and don't enter a Samaritan city, but to only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

 

Crossan believes that this goes back to Jesus himself, and his practice of sending out itinerants to announce and enact the "kingdom" (commonwealth). So it may be a record not only of Jesus' preaching, but also of his practice, and the practice of his early followers, the Ebionites (the poor, or destitute).

 

The commonwealth of God was to be realized by these itinerants, mostly beggars and the dispossessed, going to houses, villages, and towns to announce the new movement, and to share it with householders, thus effecting a rapprochement between the dispossessed destitute and the peasant poor. The movement is based on the Jewish idea of the justice and righteousness of God, found throughout the TaNaKh.

 

Other authentic sayings would be those found in Luke: "Blessed are the destitute," and "He who does not hate his mother and father is not worthy of me." Such sayings are probably authentic, because they are hardly the sort of thing that the evangelists would make up. The evangelists’ additions are always in the direction of conventional piety.

 

The anti-family note found throughout the gospels, then, in all probability goes back to Jesus. It seems to represent the necessity, in times of economic upheaval and the breakup of families, of discovering a larger idea of family – namely, the commonwealth of God.

 

A remarkable 20th Century novel which dramatizes this breakup of family under conditions of economic hardship brought about by both nature and ruthless commercialization, is John Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH (Also a film with Henry Fonda). In the novel, as the Okie family disintegrates, a larger idea of family is painfully born. (There's even a Christ figure – Jim Casy, played by John Carradine in the movie)

 

Aa Crossan says, Jesus and his companions

 

>"had not just a vision but a program, not just an idea but a plan. Here, clearly, the kingdom of God is not about me but about us, not about individuality but about society, not about heaven but about earth. It is about divine justice here below."

 

Finally,

 

The itinerants look at the householders, which is what they were yesterday or the day before, with envy and even hatred. the householders look at the itinerants, which is what they may be tomorrow or the day after, with fear and contempt. The kingdom program forces those two groups into conjunction with one another and starts to rebuild peasant community ripped apart by commercialization and urbanization.... What the itinerants bring is ideological, symbolic, and material resistance to oppression and exploitation, and that – precisely – is healing.

 

The prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread" was said by people who were not sure of getting it.

 

"Thy kingdom come" was a prayer that the program of the prophets would be fulfilled.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Crossan may not present the whole story of the Jesus movement, but it seems likely that he has captured a significant aspect of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds alot like what may happen here soon in urban areas if things do not change appreciably. Thanks.

 

flow.... :)

 

Could be. I think the message is that we are all, in a sense, poor. We have this world's goods, as it were, on loan, and we will be accountable for our stewardship.

 

The Letter to the Hebrews says, "Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have. For He Himself said "I will never deseert you, nor will I ever forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

 

And Paul writes: "If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

 

"For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

 

"But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, preseverence and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:8-11)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps so, but that is not the national or global goal these days. People are deceptive, unscrupulous, and even vicious about taking away the money of others since they truly believe that wealth enables security and freedom. Of course, as in the olden days, some know that they are only really fooling themselves. We don't really have to cite bible verses to realize it all, but the then and now symmetry that the exercise evokes is fascinating.

 

But what we're really talking about is the slow erosion and disappearance of caring, human emotion, and empathy when everyone and everything is effectively commercialized and /or monetized these days. All one has to do is turn on the tv to see it all in high definition, plasma/LCD, living color; and, hear it in booming everywhere stereophonic sound, so it must be real huh? Why, people are even emotionally controlled into going into crushing debt to acquire such stuff to make them feel better and more powerful.

 

None of this is an accident, and we are all victimized by it all to an extent. It's been building apace since WWII. Are we supposed to renounce modern life, sell everything, and live with our families in ditches in the desert ? Any thoughts?

 

How do we strike a balance, or can we when it costs half a million dollars to buy an ordinary family home in most urban areas these days? How stressful our lives are !

 

No wonder we spend twice as much money per capita on health care than our brothers and sisters in the UK, and are nowhere near as healthy as British citizens on the whole.

 

I'd say that many things are pretty much terminally corrupt these days.

 

GRRRRRR!

 

flow.... :angry:

Edited by flowperson
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps so, but that is not the national or global goal these days. People are deceptive, unscrupulous, and even vicious about taking away the money of others since they truly believe that wealth enables security and freedom. Of course, as in the olden days, some know that they are only really fooling themselves. We don't really have to cite bible verses to realize it all, but the then and now symmetry that the exercise evokes is fascinating.

 

But what we're really talking about is the slow erosion and disappearance of caring, human emotion, and empathy when everyone and everything is effectively commercialized and /or monetized these days. All one has to do is turn on the tv to see it all in high definition, plasma/LCD, living color; and, hear it in booming everywhere stereophonic sound, so it must be real huh? Why, people are even emotionally controlled into going into crushing debt to acquire such stuff to make them feel better and more powerful.

 

None of this is an accident, and we are all victimized by it all to an extent. It's been building apace since WWII. Are we supposed to renounce modern life, sell everything, and live with our families in ditches in the desert ? Any thoughts?

 

How do we strike a balance, or can we when it costs half a million dollars to buy an ordinary family home in most urban areas these days? How stressful our lives are !

 

No wonder we spend twice as much money per capita on health care than our brothers and sisters in the UK, and are nowhere near as healthy as British citizens on the whole.

 

I'd say that many things are pretty much terminally corrupt these days.

 

GRRRRRR!

 

flow.... :angry:

 

 

Don't despair! ;)

 

If one has a decent roof over his head, decent clothes, eats at least twice a day, and goes out occasionally--isn't that enough?

 

Screw the plasma TV! Screw the McMansion! Screw Britney Spears! (OOPS--that didn't come out right)

 

But you get my drift. We really don't need a lot of stuff. Problem is, we're always bombarded with ads saying "Buy this! Buy that!" But what else can you expect when the Republicans are in power? ;)

 

It may be that the consuming US sin of all of us is materialism--soemthing the prophets, incuding Jesus, railed against.

 

One troubling question is, Is capitalism compatible with the Bible?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ms. Spears always has impressed me as a plaid-skirted mope without much sex appeal. Besides she likes to walk around in service station rest rooms with her shoes off. ECCCCCHHHHHH !

 

I'm going to show my age here but Senta Berger and Raquel Welch were more my speed.

 

Ahhhh! Back in the day indeed !

 

flow..... :P

Edited by flowperson
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ms. Spears always has impressed me as a plaid-skirted mope without much sex appeal. Besides she likes to walk around in service station rest rooms with her shoes off. ECCCCCHHHHHH !

 

I'm going to show my age here but Senta Berger and Raquel Welch were more my speed.

 

Ahhhh!  Back in the day indeed !

 

flow..... :P

 

I largely agree. I was into (so to speak) Jane Fonda.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CATBALLOUCATBALLOUCATBALLOUCATBALLOUCATBALLOUCATBALLOUCATBALLOUCATBALLLOU !

 

And wasn't Lee Marvin terrific as Kid Shaleen ? I miss him a lot !

 

By the way, it has been mathematically and scientifically proven that a three component system always becomes unbalanced in it's behavior and motion patterns and tears itself apart sooner than dynamically balanced, two component systems. That's why there's two sexes and not three maybe ? But there's a lot of shades of grey in any dynamic system, eh ? Not as boring !

 

If there's anyone that can keep two old wierdos balanced it'd be you AR ! After all, you are the

"yin yang kid" !

 

flow.... :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fascinating!  The first post in this string that is. I will have to read some Crossan.  Borg is good but I have missed Crossan so far.

 

Crossan is a former Servite (a Catholic religious order) priest. He is also a member of the Jesus Seminar. Obviously, a liberal.

 

The full title of his book is THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIANITY: Discovering What Happened in the Years after the Execution of Jesus.

 

He's also written THE HISTORICAL JESUS; JESUS: A Revolutionary Biography; and WHO KILLED CHRIST?

 

I believe he is still teaching at De Paul University (Catholic), or at least was until recently.

Edited by Jeannot
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service