Uploaded by Zoe Bews

Common Judaism and Mediterranean characteristics

Common Judaism
Most Jews were not members of parties because
they were too busy surviving and keeping up with
heavy taxes.
Religion for the common Jew consisted of:
• Keeping the Sabbath
• Attending the Synagogue
• Praying
• Keeping the food laws (from the time of Moses)
• Celebrating festivals
• Circumcising baby boys on the 8 day after birth
• Hoping, yearning for a Messiah who would free
them and set everything right. They thought he
would be a political, priestly, King figure.
Lifestyle Occupations in Jesus’ time (See pp. 35
in Goosen):
• Shepherds
• Field workers
• Vineyard workers
• Fishermen
• Craftsmen - carpenters, dyers, tailors, sandal
makers, tent weavers, potters and goldsmiths
• Merchants
• Professionals – e.g. scribes and priests
On the whole, Jews were not rich, but poverty
was largely unknown. In saying this, there was a
heavy tax that burdened the people and caused
particular resentment towards Tax collectors, who
were often Jews that worked for the Romans.
Daily Life in the book of Luke
In the book of Luke, we can pick up a picture of
what daily life was like in Palestine at the time of
• 8:4-15 - Farming is a common occupation. Soil
was shallow, the rocks underneath it were
• 11:5-8 – basic houses with a few rooms
• 12:13-21 – country of contrast. Big difference
between the very poor and the very rich
• 14:7-11 & 15:25 – celebrated with feasts, music
and dancing
• 15:8-10 – money is precious. For many it is a
very humble existence.
Backdrop: The First Century Mediterranean Culture
1. Perception of Limited Good
a. The idea that there was only so much food and
honor to go around
b. If one person gets more, others will be missing
c. This applied to everything – to all goods
d. Remember that life was threatening, and some
people didn’t make it. There was an element of
desperation to life!
2. Honor and Shame
a. Honour = male. Like having a good reputation.
The opposite of this is dishonor, which happens
when you aspire to a certain status and that
status is denied by public opinion
b. Shame – has two meanings
i. Disgrace and dishonor
ii. The female quality of modesty, a good
thing to HAVE. If a female lost her
shame, she would be shameless, (which
would be a state of disgrace and dishonor)
c. Because of the perception of limited good, it
was believed that there was only a certain
amount of honour to go around. This meant
that underlying most social interactions was a
challenge to honour, with someone trying to
take some of another person’s for themselves.
d. To clarify:
i. a male can be shamed in a bad way
ii. a female finds her honor in shame in a
good way
Because it has two meanings.
3. Clean and unclean
a. Rules of purity. Everything was based on these
b. Enabled people to make sense of what was
around them, to make sense of everything
c. It informed them about themselves, the
environment, relationships with people and
d. It gave order to society, by identifying what
was good, and what was bad
e. A SUBSET of purity rules dealt with the sacred
and the non-sacred. Not all purity rules (clean
and unclean) were to do with religion, but
society itself was based on these ideas.
i. E.g. rules about exclusivity (like no you
can not come into the temple because you
are unclean) and temple worship.
People in the Mediterranean world gained their meaning
and their identity through interaction with other people.
A meaningful human existence depended on being
sensitive to what others thought and expected about you,
and you living up to those expectations. This meant that
all individuality was not valued – because all
expectations, which were the driving force behind what
motivated the people in life, came from stereotypes and
generalizations from society. Living up to those
expectations was the path to honor, which was the path to
higher and higher social status, which was the path to
more food and a better life. Remember that times were
tough – there was not enough food for everyone. This
was a desperate scenario!