Social Patterns and Jesus’s Teachings

 During the last several years we have had opportunities to dialogue with a Biblical scholar that knows a great deal more about Jesus’s teachings than we do. But we brought to the table information about the society in which Jesus lived.  The melding of the scholar’s information and ours has brought to light increased understanding of the concepts advocated by Jesus.

 It is unfortunate that little Biblical study involves seeking insights within the context of social structures. It is unfortunate that efforts to improve society are also not based on understandings of social structures. In our thinking three major structures existed and continue to exist today. They involve ancient hunter-gatherer, class-based, and the type of society we think Jesus advocated. These major social patterns can be seen in societies today. They can be identified throughout history. They can be identified through studying the Bible.

 There still exist today a few societies that retain only the characteristics found in ancient hunter-gatherer societies. Some are found in remote locations on islands in the Indian Ocean and in the Amazon basin. All societies today retain some characteristic found among hunter-gatherers. But hunter-gatherers had some characteristics like a society Jesus advocated.

 One class-based society is not exactly like the others, but each class-based society has certain identifiable characteristics that identify it for what it is. Some class-based societies are more like hunter-gatherer societies and others are more like a society Jesus advocated. Societies change at different rates based on the technology they develop and the nature of the society their ancestors created before them. Some cultures are ridged and change slowly.  Some cultures are more flexible and change quicker.  

 All societies exist along a continuum. A few are strictly hunter-gatherer. Some class-based societies are more like hunter-gatherer societies. Some class-based societies have made some progress toward becoming like a society Jesus advocated.  A society can be rated based on its characteristics and its direction of change. For example, a class-based society may be in transition from being a strictly hunter-gatherer to more class-based. Or a class-based society may regress to be more like a hunter-gatherer society. Societal changes can be caused by increased knowledge that can result in moving toward one advocated by Jesus. Or the changes might be based on a natural event that requires people to digress to be more like hunter-gatherers. What would the result of a massive natural catastrophe like a meteorite wiping out our social and physical infrastructure, technology, and agriculture?

 In another section of our website we discussion societies within the context their history. We will include another section that will discuss societies today. In these sections we will address several questions, including:

 Is this society or type of society the kind Jesus advocated?

How likely is this society to provide opportunities for people to meet their needs to be self-fulfilled humans?

How likely is this society to provide opportunities for people to be creative and seek different ways to create a better society?

 But before providing more detailed information about the three types of societies we first discuss the different needs people have as normal humans, exploring motivational factors that result in people striving to better themselves and world society. All humans have the same basic needs. How they go about meeting these needs differently is based on their knowledge of themselves within the culture their ancestors created and the physical world around them.

 It should be informative that now near the beginning of the 21st century humans have been amazingly successful in developing knowledge of the physical world in light of the technologies we have created particularly during the last few hundred hears. But we still struggle with the same cultural challenges our ancestors could not overcome thousands of years ago, including war, poverty, hunger, crime, limited educational achievement, etc.

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 © By Joseph L. Bass, EdD and Barbara P. Starkey-Bass April 2016. Contact us at