“Many dedicated spiritual Christians…think that Jesus was poor and had to work as a carpenter to make a living so they also want to stay poor work hard with their body to sweat and follow the example of Jesus” Sunny George writes.
In Jesus Christ A Carpenter Of Nazareth? George contends that Jesus did not work as a carpenter before the start of his ministry. He considers the issue from several angles including the silence of scripture the family’s wealth derived from the gifts of the magi that it was unnecessary because of his wisdom his freedom from the curse of Adam and his dependence on his Father. George writes “Can we imagine that Jesus kept all his spirit wisdom and grace of God within him and did nothing with it from his birth till he entered the public ministry around the age of thirty years?”
In discussing Jesus’ miracle-working powers George argues that his mother knew of Jesus’ power before his public ministry because she expected him to do something at the wedding when they ran out of wine. Her awareness of his power indicates that he had worked miracles before. “Our view is that if he can multiply the two fish and five loaves of bread to feed five thousand men then he would be able to take care of his personal and ministry needs by performing miracles like that during the public ministry” the author writes. “We can well conclude that God the Father miraculously supplied everything needed for his living before and during his public ministry rather than Jesus having to do carpentry work.” However with Jesus as our example this line of reasoning could lead to the conclusion that the Father will supply all our needs by miraculous means so that we don’t have to work either. This has not been the experience of the Church: Even the Apostle Paul worked while he ministered.
George’s arguments are simply unconvincing. It would seem normal for Jesus to have worked to earn a living before his public ministry. After all at the wedding he said to Mary “My time has not yet come.” While there is evidence that some of Jesus’ special qualities were known before his public ministry it comes short of proof that Jesus did not work as a carpenter. But circumstantial evidence that suggests that he did work as a carpenter also isn’t proof. How can believers choose one over the other?
The book is an in-depth and well-organized exercise in argument from silence and from implications but it will leave most of the intended audience in a state of confusion.