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Socrates and Jesus: True Manufacturing Craftsmen

Posted by Bert Maes on February 10, 2011

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Back in the days, craftsmen working in wood, stone and metal were professionals of high standing in the community. Joseph from Nazareth -for example- was a carpenter that was able to cut and trim trees, manage the forests so that people would have all the wood and lumber they needed in future generations,  he knew how to lay a foundation, design and erect walls and ceilings of private houses or public buildings. It is said that Joseph introduced his son Jesus to this active and demanding profession at an early age.

In his father’s workshop,” the French author Philippe Le Guillou writes, “Jesus had his preferred place: a beam supporting a platform that has never been built … While pulling off the bark of freshly cut wood, he inhaled the aroma that then floated in the workshop and into the house.  Jesus was still too young to accompany his father climbing into the mountains to choose and cut trees. Instead, he spent his time repeating the litany of names of the tools, an activity that never bored him. And he kept asking Joseph if he could use the block, the working bench, the wood shaping plane, the blades, the molds, the jointers, the wood chips,…[1]

Another example of wise people that were influenced by the manufacturing experience was Socrates, as reported by André Bonnard [2]. “Socrates was a laborer, born from working people. His father was one of the stonemasons who squared, sealed and polished the blocks that were used to build the Parthenon. Socrates enjoyed observing those craftsmen. He marveled at the accuracy the workers put in their gestures. He dreamed of doing the same: using a set of fixed rules to adapt a block of stone towards its end goal. A noble profession.”

This common experience of the workshop, the contact with the material may have “sculpted” the souls of Socrates and Jesus. Without a doubt the lessons they learned at their father’s right hand influenced the thinking of those young men. They must have experienced that the strength, the precision and the patience needed to work the stubbornness of the material are essential in day-to-day life too.

The family workshop in-formed them, probably less in their physical vigor, rather in their power of thought. The experience of resistance and roughness of things builds a great soul. The experience of true manufacturing craftsmanship builds wise men and women…

[1] Own translation from French : Philippe Le Guillou, Douze années dans l’enfance du monde, Gallimard, 1999, p. 39-40.
Own translation from French : André Bonnard, Socrate selon Platon, L’Aire, 1996, p. 16-17.

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3 Responses to “Socrates and Jesus: True Manufacturing Craftsmen”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJ Sweatt and Bert Maes, Bert Maes. Bert Maes said: New Blog Post: Socrates and Jesus – True #Manufacturing Craftsmen: […]

  2. Ryan Pohl said

    You absolutely hit the nail on the head Bert! Great post! The real “Change in perception” will come when more people do what Joseph and Socrates’ father did…they taught their sons that manual work was dignified, and purifying. This is what all fathers and mothers should do with their children. Great post!

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