19768Re: [XTalk] Render to God: Biblical Justice and Imperial Tribute
- Oct 2, 2005In his recent essay, Ernest Pennells wrote:
> Luke and John state that Pilate himself dismissed charges ofErnie,
> insurrection (Lk. 23.3f, 14, 22; Jn. 19.4), and Matthew and Mark contend
> that those who brought accusations against Jesus were false witnesses
> (Matt. 26.60; 27.13; Mk.14.56; 15.4). Luke actually includes tax rebellion
> among the charges dismissed by Pilate (Lk. 23.2).
But the gospel writers were presenting their message to the Gentiles at a
time when Roman authority was dominant. It would have been
counter-productive to present Jesus as a Jewish rebel. In his _The Trial of
Jesus of Nazareth_ (1968), Brandon finds Mark's account of the trial to be
riddled with inconsistencies, so neither this nor its dependent accounts in
the other synoptics can be taken as reliable historical records.
Brandon claimed that the context in which the saying appears in the earliest
gospel, i.e. Mk 12:13-17, with its pointed mention of a coin inscribed with
Caesar's head, had effectively reversed the meaning of the original saying.
In other words Jesus (consistently with his messianic claim) probably did
pronounce the saying: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to
God the things that are God's", indicating (in a 1st.c. Jewish context) that
the payment of tribute would have involved disloyalty to Yahweh.
> To maintain that subtleties of expression revealed one meaning to hisThe original scenario was as a saying propagated amongst Jesus' Jewish
> supporters and the opposite to his opponents is special pleading: any hint
> of ambiguity would surely elicit further questioning
disciples where there was unlikely to be much opposition. When the Roman
authorities did eventually catch up with him at his trial before Pilate, the
saying doubtless *did* elicit further questioning, and probably contributed
to the "guilty" verdict.
So the way I see it, thanks to Brandon, Jesus' objection to the payment of
tribute money is just visible through the fog with which Mark, driven by his
pro-Roman agenda, had so cleverly surrounded it.
Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
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