Was Jesus Poor as the Pious Like to Say?

Was Jesus poor? Probably not.

I think that the evidence shows that he was at least middle class and not one of “the poor” (although he was an advocate for the poor). The New Testament makes clear that Joseph (J’s foster father) was a “carpenter” who owned properties in both Nazareth and in Bethlehem. He was, in fact, probably what we would call a “general contractor.” On the way to Bethlehem, Joseph was quite ready to pay for lodging, but there was “no room in the inn.” It was crowding in the inn, not lack of $$$, that required Joseph and Mary to stop in a stable for the birth of Jesus.

Further, Jesus (also a “carpenter”) received the kind of upbringing, education, and training that gained him easy recognition as a Rabbi and caused many of his contemporaries – even his enemies – to hear him “speaking with authority.” He was not poor at all, and he was very well educated. Thus, it is most likely that he knew all of the languages, both spoken and written, that were current at that time, although he may have had less of a grasp on Latin than of the others.

On the question of whether Jesus was poor: There are those who argue in the affirmative on this question, but I think that – taking the entire New Testament record into account – it is much more probable that he was not poor (which, of course, does not necessarily mean that he was rich either).

I can’t go into all the details on this right now; but here are just three points:

1. The NT presents JC as a descendant of King David, i.e., a member of the royal house of Judah. One of his regular titles was “Son of David.” The genealogies in Matthew and Luke, if researched carefully, are both (apparently) intended to show (among other things) that JC is descended from David on both Joseph’s side and on Mary’s side. It seems also that there were many who were ready to see him as the rightful king of Israel. The theme of his kingship comes up quite a bit throughout the NT. Again, that requires a lot of research.

2. The NT never states that JC was poor. It presents him as a champion of the poor, but he is not described as poor himself.

3. When the “Three Wise Men” visit the holy family in Bethlehem (probably more than a year after JC’s birh) they are residing in a house (not in the stable/manger). In addition to this there are other evidences that the family had properties in Nazareth as well as in Bethlehem. (See Matthew 2:9-11)

All for now….

Jersey Joe Walcott

Jersey Joe Walcott and Joe Louis fought twice. (Actually three times: Walcott was a sparring partner for Louis for the Schmelling fight in 1937. Walcott dropped Louis as they began sparring, and Louis’s handlers then fired Walcott.)

The first official Walcott-Louis fight took place on December 5, 1947. Walcott knocked Louis down twice and generally kicked his ass. The referee, the crowd, and Louis himself judged Walcott the winner; but the two judges gave the 15-round decision to Louis, the reigning champion.

They met for the 2d time on June 25, 1948. Again, Walcott floored Louis, and the fight was pretty close – until Louis knocked Walcott out in the 11th round. Louis then retired (for the first time – his later comeback in the early ’50s was very unsuccessful).

Louis was a great champion. His record is 69 wins and 3 losses (to Max Schmelling, Ezzard Charles, and Rocky Marciano). Louis had 55 wins by knockout.

Jersey Joe Walcott was also a great fighter. He finally (after 5 or more tries) won the world heavyweight title on July 18, 1951, knocking out then-champion Ezzard Charles. Walcott was then 37 years old – the oldest man to win the heavyweight championship until George Foreman did it (over Michael Moorer) at the age of 45 in 1994. (1994 was also the year of Jersey Joe Walcott’s death.)

Walcott retained the title in another fight with Charles in late ’51 or early ’52 (a 15 round decision). Then, on September 23, 1952, Walcott fought Rocky Marciano. Walcott put Marciano down in the 1st round and was well ahead of Marciano up to the 13th round. At that point, Marciano threw a punch from nowhere and knocked Walcott out. The punch has been called the hardest punch ever thrown in a prize-fighting ring. Many boxing experts consider this Walcott-Marciano bout one of the greatest fights of all time.

In a rematch on May 15, 1953, Marciano knocked Walcott out in the 1st round. That sent Jersey Joe into retirement.

Footnote: George Foreman was once asked in an interview what he would do differently if he could live his life over again. He said “I would not have fought Muhammad Ali.”

Another footnote: Jersey Joe’s real name was Arnold Raymond Cream. He was from Merchantville, NJ.