George Walford: The Chronology of Ideology

When discussing (or, to be more realistic, when arguing about) the periods at which the various major ideologies first appeared as significant social movements, the suggestion that socialism appeared early is sometimes supported by the claim that Christ was a socialist. Here is a different view:

… Jesus virtually never mentioned the poor with the object of saying poverty should be alleviated. Such mention is almost always incidental to an attack on the better-off for glorying in their riches and being too dependent on material possessions. To these he preached not poverty but poverty in spirit. There is no suggestion that Jesus had any interest in effecting a more even distribution of wealth. He poured scorn on the notion of charity in connection with the ointment money (Matt 26:7-13, etc). He focused on the state of mind of the ‘haves,’ not on the plight of the ‘have-nots.’ This does not mean that he was insensitive to poverty or human need, only that he did not apparently consider grinding poverty to be the peculiar malaise of the society in which he worked.” (Henry Mayr-Harting in TLS 26 Dec 86, p. 1447)

from Ideological Commentary 27, May 1987.