New Testament Bias Toward Cities

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    I had never thought about this topic before this morning. I was working with a book, Civitas: Religioius Interpretations of the City edited by Peter S. Hawkins. In the second chapter entitled Saint Paul of the Cities the author, Wayne A. Meeks wrote:

    There was then, and it continues to this day a prejudice among urban dwellers that manifests itself in a 'looking down' on rural folk as simple, not so smart, and unsophisticated. I do not share this view at all ... having grow up in a very rural area.

    The NT does not call for a new, beautiful countryside, but a New Jerusalem ... a city. Also the Israelites did not look forward to living in on new farms but in cities.

    How do you think this bias toward cities might have influenced the NT writers.
     
  2. glfredrick

    glfredrick
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    Cities are where people live. Plain and simple.

    That's why most church planting efforts have been directed in that manner. That's why the OT and NT speak of cities. Rural people, historically, have been under the ruling class that was centered in the cities of the world, so the rural aspects are contained within the set that makes up cities. Not a slight, per se, just a lack of population to reach.

    Slightly different take on the subject, but I'm of a mind that we've made a huge error in the way we approach missions activity by focusing on CITIES and not on the people who inhabit those cities. Mission activity is never directed geographically, but toward the panta ta ethnae (people groups) that live in cities. But most of the mission activity of the church has been, in fact, geographically inclined, which is, in large part, why it has failed like it has. We don't go to take the gospel to Chicago, we go to take the gospel to this group of people living in this part of the city called Chicago (or Nairobi, Saigon, New York, etc.)
     
  3. Crabtownboy

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    I agree with you. If Christianity had been a village or rural religion it would never have spread as it did.

    I do wonder what would have been written if some of the NT writers had been rural folk. We'll never know for sure.
     
  4. preachinjesus

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    I haven't read the book so my comments will be limited.

    Perhaps the author is reading either too literally about a "new city" and too minimally about the agrarian nature of the first century Judeo-Palestinian landscape.

    The New Jerusalem isn't a new city...it is the physical representation of the New Heaven which will exist once all of this existence is wiped away after the eschaton. The New Jerusalem isn't so much a city as a temporal space with immense dimensions. I'd recommend another text to perhaps balance this view titled Sidewalks in the Kingdom by Eric Jacobsen. (It's a new urbanist text but perhaps a good compendium.)

    Also, I wonder if the author has consider the writer of Hebrews point that we long for the "far country" (cf. Hebrews 11:9.) It would seem to me that there are just as many non-city references as city ones in the NT. Thus the NT is neutral on the inherent moral character of a city versus a countryside.

    Finally, I'm not inclined to agree (based on the brief OP) that the NT writers are biased for the city. Of course I would need to read the text myself (which I'm not going to do anytime soon...I've a pile of texts right now.) If they were biased for or against anything it isn't the geographical location. You don't really see that in the NT.

    Again I am at a loss to comment substantively because I haven't read the text. :)
     
  5. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Jesus called His disciples from rural villages to go to the cities. One who would have come to a city would have become like the people in the city had they not been disciples of Jesus and come there with the purpose of making disciples.

    Rabbis chose men from among those who wanted to be a student under them and learn more knowledge. Jesus chose His disciples, they did not choose Him. He chose men who were not chosen to study under a rabbi. The difference between what a rabbi did and what Jesus did is in the person. The rabbis selected men who wanted to learn more knowledge and become a rabbi. Jesus called men to Himself and to imitate Him.
     

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