Sunday, July 22, 2018

Was Jesus a Carpenter?

Detroit Institute of Arts

For my book Technology and Spiritual Formation I am in study and research mode. I'm taking notes and writing out thoughts and points I want to emphasize. Some of the resources I am looking at are here.

Technology has been with us since the beginning of humanity. Jesus himself, writes Craig Detweiler, was a "techie." We see this in Mark 6:3. Jesus is in his hometown, and people are asking, "Isn't this the carpenter?"

The Greek word (the Gospels were first written in Greek) we translate as 'carpenter' is tekton. (οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν  τέκτων)

Detweiler says tekton means more than 'carpenter.' He writes:

"Strong's Greek lexicon defines a tekton as a worker in wood, a carpenter, joiner, or builder. It may include a ship's carpenter or any craftsman or workman. A tekton may also refer to those accomplished in the art of poetry, a maker of songs, or an author. He may be a planner, a contriver, or a plotter." (Detweiler, iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives, p. 23)

Mark 6:3 could be rendered, "Is this not the son of the Artisan, the Maker of all Things?" (Ib.)

All who visit Israel learn that it is a country with countless stones, and comparatively few trees. "Perhaps," asks Detweiler, "it is wise to think of Jesus more as a mason than a carpenter?" (Ib., 24) The word tekton allows for that.

New Testament scholar Ken Campbell says it is hard to resist the conclusion that Jesus was involved in construction. (Ib.)

Detweiler concludes:

Jesus "may have specialized, but given the technology of the time, it is easy to imagine Jesus being well acquainted with winepresses, millstones, olive press stones, tombstones, cisterns, farm terraces, vineyards, and watchtowers. We might call such a builder a tinkerer or a jack-of-all-trades... Perhaps he was a techie, an artisan content to make others look good." (Ib.)