Skip to main content

Some Interesting Tid Bits about Shepherds

A few things here about shepherds in Jesus' day that you might not know:

1. Shepherds may have had small landholdings but this income wasn't enough to support their families, their own agricultural pursuits, and the heavy burden of taxation.

2. They often hired themselves out for extra wages, i.e. self-employed

3. They were often akin to the peasant class of society, not having much in the way of power or privilege.
4. Yet, the Jewish cult and Jerusalem temple were heavily dependent upon them, for they brought some 30,000 lambs for Passover.
5. Though they were thought highly by the Jewish people, many in the Greco-Roman world thought of them as the dregs of society. James Jeffers contends that, "“In general, Greeks and Romans looked down upon shepherds, who were thoughts of as dirty and smelly, since they spent most of their time out of doors with animals. Aristotle said that of among men, the “laziest are shepherds, who lead an idle life, and get their subsistence without trouble from tame animals; their flocks having to wander from place to place in search of pasture, they are compelled to follow them, cultivating a sort of living farm (Politics 1.8). Many Romans believed that shepherds practiced highway robbery as well."
6. Yet, they were the first as recorded by Luke to go and tell Mary and Joseph the significance of the birth of Jesus.
7. The gospel message enters through the dirty fingernails and aching muscles of shepherds so that the lowly might be lifted up and that all people, including the least of these, might hear and proclaim the good news.

See also The comments regarding shepherds are based upon my research, looking @

Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (NICNT), 130.
James Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity, 21
Gerard Lenski, Power and Social Stratification, 1966, 266-281.


Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …