This review is taken from a study titled Economics in the Gospels which presents a view of the Gospel Economy and with it analogies to current day mixed economies and Capitalism.
The study of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the rest of the Bible, provides “nuggets” of relevant economic commentary – some of the earliest Jewish thought on money that the world has. The economic lessons are not paramount to the writers, for the most part – and yet there they are. So obvious, and yet largely overlooked. As this all relates to Donald Trump, we leave to the reader.
A review of ancient writings, not just Judeo-Christian, for economic lessons may be useful for economists. Current economic theory and practice have shown weakness as recently as the “Great Recession” and housing crash.
As Donald Trump is so associated with economics, his financial success, as well as his oft noted association with The Wharton School, financial and economic success is perhaps his major qualification. So, it would seem to make sense that analogies to the Gospels can be made, at least for the fun of it, if nothing else. We have also added the occasional hyperlink when appropriate.
The accumulator of all contained herein, Steve Richards, is an Independent politically, and is hopefully as unbiased as possible as it pertains to a scholarly review of the Gospels.
Please note that throughout this book we break down the texts into specific words that have an economic context and also list in parentheses the number of times we find its mention. If we only find it once in all the Gospels there is no number.
The Gospels contain a rich assortment of various professions with close to fifty counted, ranging from the most recognized, like fishermen, to the most despised, the Pharisees, to the lowest on the ladder, slaves, to the top, governors, rulers and the like.
Where is Trump found in these passages? Seemingly everywhere from the standpoint that it is easy to see many of these jobs as either a metaphor, a foil, or other contextual roles for him. What job would he have held, or been ascribed to him, is interesting to try to discern. Perhaps it is Governor (Pilate), King (Herod), Caesar, Hired Hand, Shepherd, Ruler, the list goes on. Perhaps some of each. Trump and the Presidency are multi-faceted and not easily found in the Gospels, nor in Roman Times, nor in Jesus’ space and time. There was no democracy in the Gospels.
This panoply allows most people in today’s economy to find some job they can relate to – something analogous. Lawyers are well represented as “Experts in the Law”, bankers might see themselves as the money changers, and tax collectors, well, are tax collectors. Below is a list of most of the identifiable jobs mentioned, as they might relate to Trump.
Trump as shepherd for his base? Herding sheep is one of the first jobs mentioned in the Gospels.
Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Luke 2:8 Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night.
John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 10:12 The hired hand, who is not a shepherd and does not own sheep, sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and runs away. So the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them.
Hired Hand (2)
The comparison of the shepherd to the hired hand on the other hand demonstrates a well-worn economic reality. Presumably the shepherd is an owner or in some way cares much more about the sheep than the hired hand.
10:13 Because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep, he runs away.
Trump closely associates with soldiers and the military. Unfortunately, there are many instances in the Gospels of Roman soldiers doing the “dirty work” of the “powers that be” and rarely shown in a good light.
Luke 23:36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine,
The officers mentioned in the Gospels also “do the dirty work” leading the soldiers. Trump is surrounded by them through his choices for Secretary of Defense (General Mattis), National Security Adviser (General McMaster who replaced General Flynn), Chief of Staff (General Kelly), and others.
John 18:12 Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up.
And then there are the guards.
18:18 (Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire they had made, warming themselves because it was cold. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.)
In the Gospels we are constantly struck by references to the Kingdom of God, and to Jesus and God in their capacity as kings of that realm. We try to stay away from such uses of the terms except in passages where it is overly difficult to do so and there are several passages with earthly and physical kings. Trump as king?
Matthew 2:9 After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was.
Similarly, the use of the term ruler is frequent in the Gospels both in the physical and heavenly. Trump would seem to be frustrated at the limits to the term as it relates to the American presidency.
John 7:50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before and who was one of the rulers, said, 7:51 “Our law doesn’t condemn a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing, does it?”
Governor (20) / Pilate (56)
The Governor/Pilate is often featured in the Gospels, principally as the reluctant judge of Jesus.
Matthew 27:14 But he did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.
The ultimate king of the earthly realm (Roman Empire) was Caesar. The Gospels don’t argue this point; they just point to a higher authority. Perhaps the best analogy to the American president.
John 19:15 Then they shouted out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?” The high priests replied, “We have no king except Caesar!”
Pharisees (79)/Jewish Leaders (29)
As the primary recipients of Jesus’ rebukes, the foremost antagonists in the Gospels are the Pharisees, followed closely by the “experts in the law” who they frequently ran with. The Pharisees have a complex role throughout the Gospels.
Matthew 9:11 When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
John 9:22 (His parents said these things because they were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders. For the Jewish leaders had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.
They clearly saw Jesus as their enemy…
Matthew 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted against him, as to how they could assassinate him.
Matthew 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words.
John 5:16 Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began persecuting him. 5:17 So he told them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.”
John 7:32 The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things about Jesus, so the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.
John 18:3 So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Though there are a few instances where the Pharisees are seen in a positive light, such as with Nicodemus.
Luke 13:31 At that time, some Pharisees came up and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.”
John 3:1 Now a certain man, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council, 3:2 came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”
The Sadducees are usually found with the Pharisees when mentioned in the Gospels, with similar disdain.
Matthew 16:1 Now when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus, they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.
High Priest (33)
The High Priest is seen in the Gospels almost exclusively as the chief persecutor of Jesus, during his end days.
Matthew 26:62 So the high priest stood up and said to him, “Have you no answer? What is this that they are testifying against you?”
Chief Priest (53)
Again, the priests are the arch villains of the Gospels.
Matthew 26:14 Then one of the twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
12:10 So the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too,
Experts in the Law (55)
Poor lawyers – they are mentioned in the Gospels with great frequency but with little affection. Not much seems to have changed over the past 2,000 years. In the Gospels they are almost always mentioned in the company of the high priests and the Pharisees. They were at the top of the food chain, so to speak, and a major target of the Gospels’ narrative. Trump’s world, is seemingly filled with experts in the law.
Mark 12:38 In his teaching Jesus also said, “Watch out for the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, 12:39 and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 12:40 They devour widows’ property, and as a show make long prayers. These men will receive a more severe punishment.”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Luke 10:25 Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 10:26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?” 10:27 The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” 10:28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Luke 10:29 But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. 10:31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. 10:32 So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 10:33 But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. 10:34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 10:35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.’ 10:36 Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 10:37 The expert in religious law said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” So Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Judge (9) / Magistrate (1) / Warden (1)
The legal profession overall is well represented in the Gospels with several mentions of judges and their ilk. In fact, Pilate himself is largely remembered as Jesus’ judge. Trump’s issues with judges is well documented and ongoing.
Luke 12:58 As you are going with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, so that he will not drag you before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.
Tax Collector (22)
Tax collectors, though apparently hated more than just about anybody back in the Gospels’ times, are spoken of affectionately, with Matthew a tax collector himself. They and other despised professions were often chosen by Jesus to be his closest associates, in juxtaposition to the “well-healed” leaders of society, from which Jesus largely kept his distance. Trump’s history with tax matters, his returns, his tax act, and presumably tax collectors, is enigmatic and presumably deep.
Mark 2:15 As Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s home, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 2:16 When the experts in the law and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector
Luke 18:9 Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 18:13 The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ 18:14 I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Business Partners (1)
Business was apparently as much a part of the Gospels’ time as today and Trump has been partners to many in his businesses. The next passage makes clear that Simon (Peter) was a businessman, at least before he became an apostle.
Luke 5:10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
Then, as now, managerial skills were esteemed. Certainly, one of Trump’s presumed primary virtues is his managerial skill. Skill which has come into question as president.
Luke 12:42 The Lord replied, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his household servants, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?
At the top of the labor force were the masters, mentioned frequently in the Gospels.
15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.
Slaves and servants are the most oft talked about job in the Gospels. They are very important as receivers of several Jesus’ healings, at the request of their bosses, who are shown to have great faith.
Mother Mary refers to herself as a servant.
Luke 1:48 because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.
For from now on all generations will call me blessed,
Many servants reach positions of high responsibility, position, and are valued confidants. The disciples themselves are also spoken of as servants, as in the following passage.
Mark 9:35 After he sat down, he called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Another expression for servant is hired men…
Mark 1:20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
And then there was the keeper of the door. Trump presumably interacts with many doorkeepers in his personal, political, and business lives.
John 18:17 The girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You’re not one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” He replied, “I am not.”
Many mentions of slaves are made in the Gospels, often in terms of reverence – they play key roles in the parables and are often the focal point.
Matthew 20:26 It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 20:27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave – 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all.
Luke 17:10 So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Call to Faithful Stewardship
Luke 12:35 “Get dressed for service and keep your lamps burning; 12:36 be like people waiting for their master to come back from the wedding celebration, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 12:37 Blessed are those slaves whom their master finds alert when he returns! I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, have them take their place at the table, and will come and wait on them! 12:38 Even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night and finds them alert, blessed are those slaves! 12:39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 12:40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
12:41 Then Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” 12:42 The Lord replied, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his household servants, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 12:43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds at work when he returns. 12:44 I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. 12:45 But if that slave should say to himself, ‘My master is delayed in returning,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk, 12:46 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 12:47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked will receive a severe beating. 12:48 But the one who did not know his master’s will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.
High Priest’s Slave (6)
Not just any slave, but the slave of the high priest. In this case the slave gets his ear cut off as Judas was betraying Jesus. Jesus immediately healed the ear.
Luke 22:50 Then one of them struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear.
Slave of Sin (1)
Aren’t we all…
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.
Slave Girl (6)
Sometimes, slaves are featured as a kind of catalyst in the story. Neither good nor bad, but they are key…
Mark 14:66 Now while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s slave girls came by. 14:69 When the slave girl saw him, she began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.”
Wise Men (5)
The wise men are some of the most enigmatic of all the “professions” in the Gospels. They lend credibility to the birth and bring presents, also of interest from and economist’s perspective, especially the gold. One can have fun imagining the interaction of them with Trump.
Matthew 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem 2:2 saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Jesus is seen as a messenger himself as was John the Baptist, figuratively speaking. Though in the literal Gospel passage below, it is a job of taking messages from one place to another, just as today.
Luke 7:24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Spying is nothing new either. Trumps interaction with the CIA points to the fact that the profession is alive and well today.
Luke 20:20 Then they watched him carefully and sent spies who pretended to be sincere. They wanted to take advantage of what he might say so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
This one mention is exceedingly interesting from a financial system point of view. Trump’s dealings with bankers is well documented and part of the job in the real estate business as well as his presidency.
Matthew 25:27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest!
Head Steward (2)
The head steward appears to have a similar job today – arranging for the wine. Trump is presumably well acquainted with wine stewards at his fine dining restaurants.
John 2:8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” and they did.
The reapers are mentioned in the Parable of the Weeds and in the explanation below as angels.
Matthew 13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 13:37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 13:38 The field is the world and the good seed are the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 13:39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 13:40 As the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. 13:42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!
One of the most famous passages in the Gospels feature the peacemakers. Time will tell how this job relates to Trump.
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.