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[XTalk] Re: Tribute Payment

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  • mwgrondin <mwgrondin@comcast.net>
    ... Yes, I see. I ve reread Frank s note and I can t say as I recall any textual evidence indicating that it was believed that all silver and gold belongs to
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 2, 2003
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      --- Loren Rosson wrote:
      > Following Frank's logic, every single coin in Palestine would be
      > owed Caesar if he simply demanded it.

      Yes, I see. I've reread Frank's note and I can't say as I recall
      any textual evidence indicating that it was believed that "all
      silver and gold belongs to the ruler". The Philo quote seems to me
      to be saying something quite different than that, and GThom 100 is
      off in an entirely different direction from the canonical version
      (in GThom, the gold coin is probably a symbol of the worldly wealth
      which is to be eschewed in favor of spiritual goods).

      I'd like to clarify a few remarks I wrote earlier, if you don't
      mind. It wouldn't be incorrect to say that gold and silver _as
      natural elements_ in general "belonged to God", but if one made,
      say, a golden calf, one would have created out of God's material
      an object not pleasing to God, hence that object itself couldn't
      be said to "belong to God". With that in mind, I think we can see
      how the canonical Jesus sidesteps the question posed to him in a
      way that satisfies both sides in the dispute (viz., Pharisees and
      Herodians). The question on which they were sharply divided was
      whether tribute should be paid to Caesar, and that's the way the
      question is posed. Jesus doesn't provide a simple 'yes' or 'no'
      (which would have angered one side or the other), but rather is
      made to provide a qualified answer that couldn't fail to be at
      least partially acceptable to both sides. To the Herodians, J's
      answer could be understood as: yes, tribute may be paid in some
      form. To the Pharisees: there's no objection to paying tribute in
      a coinage regarded as in itself displeasing to God.

      Of course, the factor on which the legal pronouncement is made
      to turn - namely, that the image and inscription on the coin make
      it the property of Caesar - is somewhat cockeyed to our way of
      thinking, but it may well have made sense in the historical
      situation imagined. On the other hand, this story is wisdom
      literature par excellence - cockeyed reasoning in support of
      eirenic solutions to seemingly-insoluble legal disputes being
      not infrequently taken as indicative of divine wisdom.

      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
    • Loren Rosson
      Mike, ... Which means the answer would have also been partially unacceptable to both sides. But more to the point (assuming the debate dynamics as reported in
      Message 2 of 14 , Feb 3, 2003
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        Mike,

        Thanks for the additional thoughts. You wrote:

        >I'd like to clarify a few remarks I wrote earlier...
        >Jesus doesn't provide a simple 'yes' or 'no'
        >(which would have angered one side or the other),
        >but rather is made to provide a qualified answer
        >that couldn't fail to be at least partially
        >acceptable to both sides.

        Which means the answer would have also been partially
        unacceptable to both sides. But more to the point
        (assuming the debate dynamics as reported in the
        synoptics are largely historical), Jesus has publicly
        humiliated both parties; they thought to snare him,
        but he got the better of them. Setting aside the issue
        being addressed, this alone would be enough to leave
        them steeming.

        >To the Herodians, J's answer could be
        >understood as: yes, tribute may be
        >paid in some form. To the Pharisees: there's
        >no objection to paying tribute in
        >a coinage regarded as in itself displeasing
        >to God.

        I agree that these are logical implications of Jesus'
        position, but it's doubtful that his intent was to
        appease or compromise -- any more than it was to make
        "partially acceptable solutions" in the other
        challenge-and-riposte scenarios involving
        indiscriminate table-fellowship, healing on the
        sabbath, handwashing, divorce, etc.

        >...this story is wisdom literature par
        >excellence - cockeyed reasoning in support of
        >eirenic solutions to seemingly-insoluble legal
        >disputes being not infrequently taken as
        >indicative of divine wisdom.

        More likely, this story (like too many others in which
        Jesus is challenged by scribes, Pharisees, Herodians,
        or temple authorites) shows Jesus gaining honor the
        only way he can -- at the expense of others, through
        shrewd one-upsmanship in support of counter-demands,
        counter-questions, insults, and a peristent refusal to
        be put on the defensive by answering questions
        directly.

        Loren Rosson III
        Nashua NH
        rossoiii@...


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      • Gordon Raynal
        Mike and Loren, I know we aren t to write hooray notes, but I think is a dandy one! To add to it in relation to the whole history of coinage use in
        Message 3 of 14 , Feb 3, 2003
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          Mike and Loren,

          I know we aren't to write "hooray" notes, but I think is a dandy one! To
          add to it in relation to the whole history of coinage use in Israel... it's
          just fascinating that the Temple leadership preferred the Tyrian silver 1/2
          shekels (honesty of silver weight), yet that coinage had the god Melqart on
          the obverse! And in relation to the bronze coinage... the Hashmonean
          coinage did use the national symbols... the palm tree, the lily and the
          cornucopia, but had no gods! Once we get to the Herodians they paid honor
          to the Roman overlords on their coins. And the prutahs and such which were
          the more normal money of day to day commerce were dated in terms of the
          Imperial rule and had symbols of that. Pilate had 2 designs, for instance.
          One with drooping ears of grain that honored the death of Julia Livia...
          with the simpulum on the other side and then one with the emperor's staff.
          The presence of the Roman's, their symbols, their power, their names... was
          there in the pocket change of daily commerce. Jesus' wisdom tweak, as you
          well note, is indeed, "wisdom literature par excellence!"

          So... Mike... we do agree on some things:)!

          Gordon Raynal

          >--- Loren Rosson wrote:
          >> Following Frank's logic, every single coin in Palestine would be
          >> owed Caesar if he simply demanded it.
          >
          >Yes, I see. I've reread Frank's note and I can't say as I recall
          >any textual evidence indicating that it was believed that "all
          >silver and gold belongs to the ruler". The Philo quote seems to me
          >to be saying something quite different than that, and GThom 100 is
          >off in an entirely different direction from the canonical version
          >(in GThom, the gold coin is probably a symbol of the worldly wealth
          >which is to be eschewed in favor of spiritual goods).
          >
          >I'd like to clarify a few remarks I wrote earlier, if you don't
          >mind. It wouldn't be incorrect to say that gold and silver _as
          >natural elements_ in general "belonged to God", but if one made,
          >say, a golden calf, one would have created out of God's material
          >an object not pleasing to God, hence that object itself couldn't
          >be said to "belong to God". With that in mind, I think we can see
          >how the canonical Jesus sidesteps the question posed to him in a
          >way that satisfies both sides in the dispute (viz., Pharisees and
          >Herodians). The question on which they were sharply divided was
          >whether tribute should be paid to Caesar, and that's the way the
          >question is posed. Jesus doesn't provide a simple 'yes' or 'no'
          >(which would have angered one side or the other), but rather is
          >made to provide a qualified answer that couldn't fail to be at
          >least partially acceptable to both sides. To the Herodians, J's
          >answer could be understood as: yes, tribute may be paid in some
          >form. To the Pharisees: there's no objection to paying tribute in
          >a coinage regarded as in itself displeasing to God.
          >
          >Of course, the factor on which the legal pronouncement is made
          >to turn - namely, that the image and inscription on the coin make
          >it the property of Caesar - is somewhat cockeyed to our way of
          >thinking, but it may well have made sense in the historical
          >situation imagined. On the other hand, this story is wisdom
          >literature par excellence - cockeyed reasoning in support of
          >eirenic solutions to seemingly-insoluble legal disputes being
          >not infrequently taken as indicative of divine wisdom.
          >
          >Mike Grondin
          >Mt. Clemens, MI
          >
          >
          >The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
          >
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          >
        • Loren Rosson
          ... Just as you and I disagree about almost everything, my friend. And not to take the wind out of your sails... but how does anything you ve said below
          Message 4 of 14 , Feb 3, 2003
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            Gordon wrote:

            > So... Mike... we do agree on some things:)!

            Just as you and I disagree about almost everything, my
            friend. And not to take the wind out of your sails...
            but how does anything you've said below reinforce
            Mike's idea about Mk 12:13-17/Mt 22:15-22/Lk 20:20-26
            /Thom 100 involving "wisdom literature par
            excellence"?

            Loren Rosson III
            Nashua NH
            rossoiii@...



            --- Gordon Raynal <scudi1@...> wrote:
            > Mike and Loren,
            >
            > I know we aren't to write "hooray" notes, but I
            > think is a dandy one! To
            > add to it in relation to the whole history of
            > coinage use in Israel... it's
            > just fascinating that the Temple leadership
            > preferred the Tyrian silver 1/2
            > shekels (honesty of silver weight), yet that coinage
            > had the god Melqart on
            > the obverse! And in relation to the bronze
            > coinage... the Hashmonean
            > coinage did use the national symbols... the palm
            > tree, the lily and the
            > cornucopia, but had no gods! Once we get to the
            > Herodians they paid honor
            > to the Roman overlords on their coins. And the
            > prutahs and such which were
            > the more normal money of day to day commerce were
            > dated in terms of the
            > Imperial rule and had symbols of that. Pilate had 2
            > designs, for instance.
            > One with drooping ears of grain that honored the
            > death of Julia Livia...
            > with the simpulum on the other side and then one
            > with the emperor's staff.
            > The presence of the Roman's, their symbols, their
            > power, their names... was
            > there in the pocket change of daily commerce.
            > Jesus' wisdom tweak, as you
            > well note, is indeed, "wisdom literature par
            > excellence!"
            >



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          • Gordon Raynal
            ... Hi my LOTR friend! Well... it does have to do with the basic nature of the movement... the basic nature/character of parabolic speech and the polyvalence
            Message 5 of 14 , Feb 3, 2003
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              >Gordon wrote:
              >
              >> So... Mike... we do agree on some things:)!
              >
              >Just as you and I disagree about almost everything, my
              >friend. And not to take the wind out of your sails...
              >but how does anything you've said below reinforce
              >Mike's idea about Mk 12:13-17/Mt 22:15-22/Lk 20:20-26
              >/Thom 100 involving "wisdom literature par
              >excellence"?

              Hi my LOTR friend!

              Well... it does have to do with the basic nature of the movement... the
              basic nature/character of parabolic speech and the polyvalence of emotional
              responses that are possible in response. Was Jesus sometimes royally
              p.o.-ed?, Sure! Did some of those exchanges show that? No doubt. But then
              again, one of the guises one "put's on" in the telling of parables can be
              quite the opposite of the underlying actual state of emotions and intention
              of communication. And then, this gets down to the core speech that defines
              the character of the rest... the core actions/ locations that actually
              define the movement... the core theological affirmations that define the
              very constitution of what's being brought to life. Your friends upon whom
              you rely for all this honor and shame foci have made their choices about
              that. And you take them up on it. So, yes, my good Sci-Fi loving buddy, we
              do disagree about those choices. As for reading these particular scenes...
              it do depend on how one assesses the above (pardon my southernism:)!) This
              was a movement about forgiveness, reconciliation, God "counting sparrows"
              and "hairs...." I want to begin there and not the redactive imaginations of
              even the earliest collectors to understand these beginnings!

              Hey, we're in 2003... some dandy Sci-Fi coming out this year! Cheery stuff!
              Gordon
            • David C. Hindley
              Gordon & Loren & Mike & Robert & Bill & Jeffrey & Bob D & Bob S & Frank & ... it s just fascinating that the Temple leadership preferred the Tyrian silver 1/2
              Message 6 of 14 , Feb 3, 2003
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                Gordon & Loren & Mike & Robert & Bill & Jeffrey & Bob D & Bob S & Frank &
                Horace & Edgar & Richard (in no particular order):

                >>To add to it in relation to the whole history of coinage use in Israel...
                it's just fascinating that the Temple leadership preferred the Tyrian silver
                1/2 shekels (honesty of silver weight), yet that coinage had the god Melqart
                on the obverse!<<

                I wonder if a case can be made for this pericope originating as a tax
                protest or commentary *on the part of the author of Mark*?

                According to Bruce Bartlett, "HOW EXCESSIVE GOVERNMENT KILLED ANCIENT ROME":
                "Tiberius [as opposed to Augustus] ... hoarded large sums of cash. This led
                to a financial crisis in 33 A.D. in which there was a severe shortage of
                money." (The Cato Journal, Volume 14 Number 2, Fall 1994)
                http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww
                .cato.org%2Fpubs%2Fjournal%2Fcjv14n2-7.html

                The author is thus commenting about the *lack* of denarii in general
                circulation, making Jesus say, in effect: "If the emperor wants to hoard all
                the money, let him. We don't need his money anyway."

                On the other hand, Bartlett also notes that: "As early as the rule of Nero
                (54-68 A.D.) there is evidence that the demand for [state] revenue led to
                debasement of the coinage. Revenue was needed to pay the increasing costs of
                defense and a growing bureaucracy. However, rather than raise taxes, Nero
                and subsequent emperors preferred to debase the currency by reducing the
                precious metal content of coins. This was, of course, a form of taxation; in
                this case, a tax on cash balances (Bailey 1956). [...] debasement was mainly
                limited to the denarius. Nero reduced the silver content of the denarius to
                90 percent [...] Trajan (98-117 A.D.) [further] reduced the silver content
                to 85 percent"

                Then the author of Mark could be interpreted as contrasting the debased
                denarius against the undebased Tyrian 1/2 shekel. The only problem is that
                it shifts the story from telling us something about Jesus and his time to
                telling us something about the author of Mark and his time (with the
                corresponding shift in date for the creation of the account to at very least
                54-68 CE).

                All this author invention stuff could, of course, be based on a kernel of a
                real Jesus story. I could see Jesus recommending the payment of *both* full
                production-based biblical tithes *and* fixed Roman census-based
                property/poll taxes. This was, after all, what the Pharisees, or at any rate
                the rabbis, tried to do. The author of Mark took this ball and played his
                own game with it.

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio, USA
              • Gordon Raynal
                Hi David, Interesting note. Thanks for the Barlett quote about Tiberius hoarding. Most interesting! Gordon Raynal
                Message 7 of 14 , Feb 4, 2003
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                  Hi David,

                  Interesting note. Thanks for the Barlett quote about Tiberius' hoarding.
                  Most interesting!

                  Gordon Raynal
                  ----------
                  >From: "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@...>
                  >To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
                  >Subject: RE: [XTalk] Re: Tribute Payment
                  >Date: 3, Feb 2003, 7:45 PM
                  >

                  >Gordon & Loren & Mike & Robert & Bill & Jeffrey & Bob D & Bob S & Frank &
                  >Horace & Edgar & Richard (in no particular order):
                  >
                  >>>To add to it in relation to the whole history of coinage use in Israel...
                  >it's just fascinating that the Temple leadership preferred the Tyrian silver
                  >1/2 shekels (honesty of silver weight), yet that coinage had the god Melqart
                  >on the obverse!<<
                  >
                  >I wonder if a case can be made for this pericope originating as a tax
                  >protest or commentary *on the part of the author of Mark*?
                  >
                  >According to Bruce Bartlett, "HOW EXCESSIVE GOVERNMENT KILLED ANCIENT ROME":
                  >"Tiberius [as opposed to Augustus] ... hoarded large sums of cash. This led
                  >to a financial crisis in 33 A.D. in which there was a severe shortage of
                  >money." (The Cato Journal, Volume 14 Number 2, Fall 1994)
                  >http://ancienthistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww
                  >.cato.org%2Fpubs%2Fjournal%2Fcjv14n2-7.html
                  >
                  >The author is thus commenting about the *lack* of denarii in general
                  >circulation, making Jesus say, in effect: "If the emperor wants to hoard all
                  >the money, let him. We don't need his money anyway."
                  >
                  >On the other hand, Bartlett also notes that: "As early as the rule of Nero
                  >(54-68 A.D.) there is evidence that the demand for [state] revenue led to
                  >debasement of the coinage. Revenue was needed to pay the increasing costs of
                  >defense and a growing bureaucracy. However, rather than raise taxes, Nero
                  >and subsequent emperors preferred to debase the currency by reducing the
                  >precious metal content of coins. This was, of course, a form of taxation; in
                  >this case, a tax on cash balances (Bailey 1956). [...] debasement was mainly
                  >limited to the denarius. Nero reduced the silver content of the denarius to
                  >90 percent [...] Trajan (98-117 A.D.) [further] reduced the silver content
                  >to 85 percent"
                  >
                  >Then the author of Mark could be interpreted as contrasting the debased
                  >denarius against the undebased Tyrian 1/2 shekel. The only problem is that
                  >it shifts the story from telling us something about Jesus and his time to
                  >telling us something about the author of Mark and his time (with the
                  >corresponding shift in date for the creation of the account to at very least
                  >54-68 CE).
                  >
                  >All this author invention stuff could, of course, be based on a kernel of a
                  >real Jesus story. I could see Jesus recommending the payment of *both* full
                  >production-based biblical tithes *and* fixed Roman census-based
                  >property/poll taxes. This was, after all, what the Pharisees, or at any rate
                  >the rabbis, tried to do. The author of Mark took this ball and played his
                  >own game with it.
                  >
                  >Respectfully,
                  >
                  >Dave Hindley
                  >Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
                  >
                  >To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  >To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  >List managers may be contacted directly at: crosstalk2-owners@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                  >
                  >
                • mwgrondin <mwgrondin@comcast.net>
                  ... Whether or not it was invented by an evangelist (which is a separate issue), I don t think a _good_ case can be made for the pericope being a commentary on
                  Message 8 of 14 , Feb 4, 2003
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                    --- David C. Hindley wrote:
                    > I wonder if a case can be made for this pericope originating as
                    > a tax protest or commentary *on the part of the author of Mark*?

                    Whether or not it was invented by an evangelist (which is a separate
                    issue), I don't think a _good_ case can be made for the pericope
                    being a commentary on financial/economic issues of either J's time
                    or Mark's time - because there doesn't seem to be anything in the
                    internal logic of it that suggests that. The question was whether
                    the payment of Roman taxes didn't in fact amount to a seemingly-
                    objectionable "giving tribute to Caesar", and it's framed in that
                    way. This has nothing to do that I can see with either a shortage
                    or "debasing" of the denarius. That the question of taxes was
                    primarily a religious issue for Christians can be seen from Mt.17:24-
                    27, where the author is concerned with answering the question of
                    whether Jesus paid the Temple tax - a "son of God" being presumably
                    exempt from such taxation. (Matthew evades the issue by the silly
                    little device of having Peter catch a fish with a coin in its mouth
                    sufficient to pay the Temple tax for both himself and Jesus. I think
                    even the miracle-believers shake their heads at that one). Back to
                    the tribute pericope, I don't see anything in the internal logic of
                    it which would indicate that it's anything other than a religious
                    issue being raised - one that would have been of some importance to
                    both Jewish and Hellenistic Christians.

                    Mike Grondin
                    Mt. Clemens, MI
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