Baker Academic

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jesus and Economic Collectivism - Le Donne

Bill O'Reilly maintains that "Jesus wanted to stay out of politics" in recent interviews. This is disingenuous. O'Reilly's Jesus is positively anti-government. Indeed, without the problem of big-government taxation (which is emphasized ad nauseum in Killing Jesus) he cannot explain where and how the conflict between Jesus and Rome began. In this way, the Jesus portrayed by Dugard and O'Reilly is proto-libertarian.  Their portrait of Jesus marginalizes the big government of Rome which is altogether evil.

Dugard and O'Reilly play down (almost entirely omit) Jesus' central message about the "Kingdom of God" to paint him as a preacher of love and hope.  This reading is understandable.  It is a common mistake in the Christianized West.  At the same time, it is indeed anachronistic (and "anarnistic" too, I suppose) to call Jesus a socialist.  Perhaps we'd do better to use the phrase "economic collectivism" for the disciples of Jesus.

I discuss this at length in my new book, The Wife of Jesus: Ancient Texts and Modern Scandals.

My full review of Killing Jesus will be published soon in the Los Angeles Review of Books.



  1. “Perhaps we'd do better to use the phrase "economic collectivism" for the disciples of Jesus.” For disciples, yes (Acts, 5:1-11) but I’m not sure if that was also Jesus’ view on money. My impression is that he wasn’t much concerned of how to organize and structure disciples’ communities, as well as how to organize and structure a new religion movement. Maybe, Jesus thought that money was bad because it distracted people from loving God and love others, money leaded to wars and social injustices.

    1. Lorenzo in my newest book (see above) I discuss this. I argue that the impact of Jesus' subversive message about collectivism (including economic collectivism) explains a diversity of social problems within earliest Christianity.