• The Maker Versus the Takers

  • What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics
  • By: Jerry Bowyer
  • Narrated by: William Sarris
  • Length: 4 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (77 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A close reading of the Gospels, taking history and archaeology into account, demolishes the myth of a socialist Jesus.

Theologians virtually ignore the economic commentary in the Bible. In the few cases where it gets any attention, economic commentary in the Gospels and other New Testament writings tend to lapse into simplistic class-warfare nostrums. Liberation theologians import Marxism wholesale (but they try to sell it retail) into theology. Academic historians of first-century Palestine/Judea have been pushing an account of a poor peasant Jesus leading a poor peasant's revolt based on the idea of mass displaced workers in Lower Galilee. The problem is the actual archaeological findings paint a picture of an industrious and entrepreneurial economy during Jesus' time there. Reading the Gospels in light of archaeology and history, which are now available to us, gives us a very different picture than the one you've been told regarding what Jesus taught about work and money.

©2020 Jerry Bowyer (P)2020 eChristian

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Provocative "Originalist" Take on Jesus' Economics

Originalism and textualism are very much in the public discourse as they relate to interpreting the Constitution and statutory law, but how are they as a tool to understanding the Gospels? In the Maker versus the Takers, Jerry Bowyer makes a compelling argument that, in order to fully understand Jesus' teachings with regard to economics, we have to understand the political, religious, and economic context of Jesus' time and place. Jerry Bowyer lays out a convincing case that Jesus' message was directed at the people he spoke to, in that time and place, and that He addressed the specific economic arrangements of his time as they varied in different geographical regions. Jesus, contrary to leftist ideologues who would claim him as some kind of proto-Marxist or socialist, was not in fact opposed to private property, the production and sale of goods and services for gain, to the basic exchanges that occur in the marketplace. We tend to think about "economics" as the "dismal science" in the academic and theoretical realm. But really, economics is at the very center of human life. It is literally about how we feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves and our families. Of course, then, Jesus preached a lot about money, about economic activity of various kinds, including farming, fishing, building, etc. Jesus Himself, we forget at our peril, was in point of fact, like His foster father Joseph, a craftsman and "small businessman." When Jesus preached in the areas in and around Galilee, which had a more entrepreneurial economy based on production and trade, He was much less critical of the economic system. But when He spoke in and around Jerusalem, the economy of which exploited the working class and poor through an unholy alliance of powerful elites, including the Herodian monarchy, the leaders of institutionalized religion, and to some degree even the Roman oppressors, He was very critical of this exploitation by the elites, of the "takers" who confiscated the production (wealth) of the "makers," through unjust and dishonest structures. From this book, I learned a great deal about these economic systems that I hadn't bothered to understand before, and I have a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Jesus' economic parables, of the role of the "money changers" in the Temple, and of the role of economics in the conspiracy that led to Jesus' arrest and crucifixion. Another immensely useful takeaway is that all those amateur bible studies miss a crucial step, when they ask us to think of how Jesus' teachings apply to our life today, or that assume that everything Jesus said, in Aramaic, translated into Greek, 2,000 years ago, to a particular audience living in very specific circumstances, somehow applies seamlessly to me, living in the 21st century English speaking world. Rather, the more accurate and ultimately more truthful approach, is that the context and text of Jesus' teachings are absolutely essential to a proper understanding of what He actually meant to convey. Once we understand His meaning in the proper context, then we can apply those teachings to our own economic and political structures. As practiced artfully by Jerry Bowyer in the Maker versus the Takers, the result of this approach is a powerful defense of basic economic liberty and an equally powerful repudiation of those who create unjust systems that exploit the less powerful, forcing them into lives of inescapable privation.

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Fascinating!

What a fantastic opportunity to dig into an under-observed perspective. Yes, Jesus and the OT talk about wealth and poverty plenty, but did we ever stop to think about who the audience is? Where (and to which class) does he say what, and what does that teach us about His true message? The hearers at the time did not have the problem we have today…they had context. This looks at the historical world through the lens of the biblical authors along with some background historical events from other historians of the time. Great read, will challenge you in a good way. Disagree with the author’s position? Great! Go chase down the same passages and see for yourself, nothing here is hidden.

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Good thoughts on the biblical economy

I enjoyed it, I'm going to have to read it again. There's a lot in there

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Very insightful, instructive and relevant

The author provides a very strong case for the free enterprise system from a biblical perspective by providing strong combination of historical and scriptural references. Very instructive.

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Great research; interesting presentation

I heard Mr. Bowyer interviewed on a podcast and was intrigued by his thoughts and the obvious research into biblical records and customs. As I read the book, I was impressed with the author's respect for the Scriptures and his skill in letting one Scripture interpret other Scripture. This book is one I've already recommended. I will continue to reread this book as I use it for reference in teaching the Bible.

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Interesting approach

I learned so amazing things reading this book nothing I’ve ever heard from the pulpit nor my fellow Christian friends. It is helpful to expand one’s understanding of the day and life of those in the first century. I love this

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Provides economic context to the New Testament.

A tremendous work! Brings proper context to Jesus' words about the poor and the rich and will provide a good foundation for understanding how Babylon the Great was first century Jerusalem.

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Helpful discussion of what the gospels say

I'm so glad to have listened to this. Neither the social gospel folks, nor the right-wing politicized Christians seem to ring true. We can always assume that the truth lies "somewhere in between". This is a great discussion of what Jesus actually said and did while talking with the suffering poor, the "regular people", and the ruling elite in Jerusalem. Very helpful book.

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The Makers Versus The Makers

I Loved the whole book. It was fascinating to get a Christian economic perspective, of Jesus and the cities he went to. I would recommend this book to all, especially Christian. We need to see that Jesus is all and that includes an economic perspective of Jesus thoughts compared to the ruling classes. This should be a best seller.

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Great Read!

This book has helped shaped how I as a Christian should view economics and justice and understand what Jesus was saying about these issues during His time.