My boss is a Jewish … mason?

According to Hebrew scholar Kwon Sung-dal, in an article appearing in the Korean Times, Jesus almost certainly was not a carpenter. While Christian tradition has held for over two-thousand years that Christ earned a living swinging a hammer, Sung-dal contends that it’s far more likely that he worked with a trowel.

His argument is largely based on two observations:

  1. Israel is a wood-deficient country; trees are fairly scarce in the region. This is especially true of Nazareth, the city that Jesus was from. Since the availability of wood is essential to carpentry, Sung-dal believes that it is highly unlikely that Jesus could have been a carpenter. On the other hand, stone is available in abundant supply throughout the region and especially in Nazareth. So if Jesus used any building material in his family trade, it would have most likely been stone.
  2. The Hebrew language has dual meanings for the words stonemason and carpenter; they are virtually interchangeable in many cases. Translators mistakenly inserted the word carpenter due to ignorance about Israel’s geography and natural resources.

The problem here, according to Sung-dal, is the disconnect between modern Christianity and Jewish culture and tradition. “Although the Christian population is increasing rapidly, knowledge on Israel and Jewish culture falls short,” Kwon said.

I’m not certain what tangible bearing Christ’s pre-ministry vocation has on Christian faith and practice, so I’ll take and leave all of this at face value. And while it would cast passages such as Mark 12:10-11 and Matthew 16:17-19 in a unique light, it could also give credibility to some of the more kookier ideas that link Jesus to the Freemasons.

However, I am inclined to agree with Kwon Sung-dal’s assertion that modern Christianity’s disconnect with – and subsequent ignorance of – Jewish tradition and culture often affects the lens through which we view Scripture. And sometimes what we see through that lens can be distorted as a result of our ignorance.


8 thoughts on “My boss is a Jewish … mason?

  1. That whole post was just an excuse for me to tell the joke I made up while reading the article.

    (This one’s for you Stem!)

    Question: What do Jesus Christ and Lakers guard Jordan Farmar have in common?

    Answer: They’re both Jewish brick-layers!


  2. and to make another observation regarding Christian beliefs or myths…
    I saw a special the other day on various forms of torture. The part I actually stayed tuned in for was about the Roman cross. And whereas most Christians associate it with the Latin letter tee, it was actually most likely a post with a bar that sat on top of it so they could use it again and again. Jesus was most likely nailed to the cross beam then the cross bar was dropped onto the post. Then the feet were nailed to the sides of the cross through the ankle rather than one foot crossed over another and nailed to the front.
    It was interesting.

  3. i heard a sermon by dr. ron mosely (who mentored dwight pryor…who has influenced rob bell) about this. it was from 1993.

    he said that more than likely Jesus worked with stone for all the above reasons.

    i’d encourage anyone who’s interested to google or amazon search Dr. Mosely. His books and teachings center on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and they have GREATLY increased my understanding of the old and new testaments.

    don’t expect a refined, emergent, conversationalist though. Dr. Mosely is from Arkansas and defines himself as a redneck.

  4. back when i was in college i was attending a church that i’m fairly certain in hindsight was a cult, but nevertheless, the pastor – who was obsessed with jesus as a manly man’s man – basically had said the same thing. carpenter, mason, the basic idea is the same – he was a working class person. i think that’s important.

    and as far as the crucifix, well, a lower case t looks better around your neck. duh.

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