Hope Rests on the Baby

 

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Hope Rests on the Baby

2 Comments

  1. Charlotte Farmer says:

    After I heard this talk in church, the comments about shepherds were repeated by Nick at the CAP Christmas meal and Helen at the church Christmas service. I’d love to know what they are based on, because they seem so unlikely. Shepherds were given other people’s property to take away and trusted to bring it back in due course, which doesn’t sound like a job for a criminal. Yes, they would have smelled, but so did everyone else in the old days. I’d have thought fisherman would be a smellier job. Finally, how can they have been despised outcasts, when God was the Shepherd of Israel and Jesus was the Good Shepherd? No doubt they were poorly paid and of low status, like agricultural workers throughout history, but the job wasn’t seen as despicable – not like, say, tax collector. Is there a source where all this came from?

  2. Matt Hyam says:

    Hi Charlotte,

    Good question!

    The detail of shepherds being criminals was from Dr Alexander Shia. However that shepherds were the lowest status within the culture has come from many different sources. The view is that, moving on from the OT times, shepherding had moved on from a family business to hired helps and so the cultural view of shepherds in the first century was very different from the OT.

    However, there are theologians who dispute this view, and they claim that the evidence for this is not compelling. They would, like you have, cite that Jesus was called shepherd and thus how could it be a profession that was looked down on? That may well be a compelling argument, but on the other hand, Jesus was born into poverty to unmarried parents and died a criminal death, so he was certainly not above overturning the norm by taking on a lowly or even despised position.

    In summary. You might be right, but I lean towards the outcast view as on balance, it seems to have more evidence to support it.

    Hope that helps.

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