A minimalist self-described “documentarian of the absurd” writing by the assumed pseudonym “Holly Wood” recently penned six sentences that she supposes should completely alter non-SJW opinions of the person of Jesus of Nazareth. In her column, (if it can indeed be described as such due it its length), she writes:
“Jesus gave free medical care to lepers, man.
It’s not even a parable.
That’s what he did—gave free healthcare to lepers.
The entire New Testament is Jesus walking around with 12 dudes giving medicine to poor people.
Jesus was a homeless brown refugee who ran around giving people universal healthcare. There is literally no other way to interpret this.”
Buckle up, man. If you dare question any interpretation of Jesus of Nazareth that doesn’t align with your hippie-dippy leftist brown-washing, then be prepared to face the consequences: the wrath of the theologue.
Let us proceed to pick apart Miss Wood’s work piece by piece, sentence by sentence, absurdity by absurdity.
“Jesus gave medical care to lepers, man.”
He most certainly did, and one account has the Son of God healing at least ten lepers at one time (Lk. 17:11-19). But if one is going to attempt to relate the medical action of Jesus to the governmental realm, then one ought to at least be consistent in defining “medical care.” Jesus was not a doctor by any historical standard, 1st century or 21st century. He was not, by profession, a man who tended to those with medical needs in an office, nor did he receive any recorded wages for his acts of healing.
In fact, Jesus was never mandated to heal those who came to him, and only did so voluntarily. Jesus healed out of charity, not out of requirement. Mandating that health care be a human right theoretically enslaves those in the medical field, shifting voluntary work performed in the private sector to sponsored work performed in the public sector, transforming acts of healing as a charitable act of one’s will into something required by force. By placing medical aid in the hands of the government, one completely alters the context in which healing occurred in Jesus’s ministry, ultimately divorcing the two.
“It’s not even a parable.”
As an Orthodox catechumen deeply influenced by the patristic Alexandrian school of symbolic, mystical theology, I think that it is faulty to claim that a literal event is not in any way parabolic. Even the literal is always metaphorical in some sense. Jesus heals the wounded; Jesus heals us. It is a parable of sorts, albeit not exclusively so.
The fact is that this biblical narrative is not intended to provide a foundation or argument for universal healthcare. It is a pre-imminent example of Christian charity that was commanded to be conveyed by the mere laity to widows, orphans, the sick, and the elderly. Governmental involvement was not considered to be relevant to this passage or any similar passages until Christianity began to get involved in the political realm. Even then, charities were preferred over political intervention.
“That’s what he did—gave free healthcare to lepers.”
Yes, he did, out of his own free will without being mandated to do so via governmental coercion. To compare the actions of Jesus in this specific narrative to a possible governmental action seems possible until we consider that Jesus violently destroyed the financial stability of the Jewish people in Israel because of their greed (Matt. 21). I’m certain that many would not be on board with the government imitating that Christian action.
“The entire New Testament is Jesus walking around with 12 dudes giving medicine to poor people.”
No, that’s not the “entire New Testament.” The message is not about “giving medicine to poor people” in the way that Planned Parenthood would consider legitimate. The physical healings performed in the apostolic era were a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The actual “medicine” that Jesus and his followers were trying to gift the poor and needy was spiritual wellness, and physical wellness was simply a symbolic way of conveying that message. Needless to say, or at least it should be, the New Testament includes a lot more in its pages than just “Jesus walking around with 12 dudes giving medicine to poor people.” It includes theological themes regarding light and darkness, liberation from metaphysical oppression, the carelessness that should be oriented towards temporal passions, and a resounding call to an ascetic way of life, i.e. self-denial.
“Jesus was a homeless brown refugee who ran around giving people universal healthcare. There is literally no other way to interpret this.”
Homeless. Brown. Refugee. Κύριε, ἐλέησον!
Jesus was not homeless. He was born into a healthy family structure complete with a mother, a father, and it is possible that he also had step-siblings who were somewhat older than himself (Mk. 13:54-56). He and his second cousin John grew up together as friends. Joseph, his stepfather, would have been considerably older than he and Mary. Elizabeth and Zachariah, the parents of John the Baptist, would have been older than Joseph when John was born to them. Because of this, John may have been orphaned as a child, together with Jesus losing his father at an early age. Jesus’s mother, Mary, likely took in the both of them and raised them as siblings of a sort, which would explain John’s familiarity with his second cousin by the time the gospel narrative picks up. John’s Essene-esque behavior (ritualistic cleansing, ascetic lifestyle, etc.) would also put him in in the company of orphans, as the Essenes were notorious for those in need.
Seeing that every mention of Jesus’s father ends when Jesus is 12, in addition to any further details regarding Jesus’s life as a teenager and twenty-something, it is incredibly likely that Jesus needed a way to support himself and his mother, taking up carpentry after Joseph as a trade (Matt.13:55; Mk. 6:3). We have records of Jesus literally building a home in Capernaum early during his ministry (Matt. 4:12; Mk. 2:1-2). Furthermore, Jesus had a multitude of friends who supported him in times of need, including Simon the Leper, Levi, a nameless Pharisee, another Pharisee who was a leader, and even Zaccheus. Let’s not even mention the group of women disciples who financially supported his ministry.
Jesus was (probably) not “brown.” The brownness of Jesus is a facet of his incarnation that cannot be absolutely held or absolutely attested against. Beginning approximately 300 years before the birth of Jesus, there was an enormous Celtic migration to Asia Minor, specifically in areas that make up modern-day Turkey today (e.g., Ephesus). Genetics place Irish DNA as originating somewhere in the Middle Eastern-Eastern European area, specifically near the Black Sea. And everyone knows that historically, Irishmen are not typically white.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain, a 19th century British-born German philosopher, posited a type of Amorite-Germanic extraction as a racial theory for Christ, the Amorites being a Semitic people group who dwelled in Syria and have been theorized to have possessed Aryan/Nordic characteristics. To be fair, even if Jesus of Nazareth were Caucasian, he would likely not be considered to possess the amount of “whiteness” assumed by many today. It is not difficult to see that even many Jews today are not “brown,” and it is silly to assert such an objective statement to a matter that is impossible to settle, even with today’s scholarship.
Jesus was not a refugee. This is probably the most ludicrous accusation, because it toys with definitions. A refugee, according to the U.S. Code, is “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
Jesus was a refugee in a similar way that a Finnish person migrating to Sweden is a refugee. Firstly, the Alexandrian Hellenization process captured the Egyptians in a similar way that it captured the Hebrews, and the two cultures would have each looked remarkably similar in Jesus’s life. The land of Egypt would have been filled with Greek aesthetics, the Greek language, and Greek religion, similar to the land of Israel; so, despite the difference in nationality, there would have been no need for the family of Jesus to assimilate to their Egyptian context, because Egypt and Jesus’s family would have both been pre-assimilated to a meta-Greek context.
Additionally, the family of Jesus were able and willing to return to their homeland, and they did after a relatively short period of time.
The saddest part about the six sentences posted by Miss Holly Wood is that they represent a theological assumption subscribed to by massive amounts of those on the political left and right. It is difficult to pinpoint when such a narrative took root in the social world, but it misrepresents historical contexts and biblical intentions. So no, Jesus was not a homeless brown refugee who ran around giving people free healthcare.