Re: [XTalk] Jesus Temple Act
- Hi Ernie,
>Thanks for writing of how you see this fitting in.
> Quite a contrast with the money changers incident. Both the sum, her
> and the comparison between the widow's paltry gift and a flourish of
> by others clearly separate this from temple tax. This is free will
> offering. So while men line up meet their obligations, or topple the
> in protest :-)', and those with surplus wealth brandish it about, the
> widow slips in a costly expression of genuine devotion, which Jesus
> applauds even if he did think it misdirected. On occasion, he also
> applauded prostitutes.
>So, in this case and as regards the coinage, Jesus was stricter in
>> I know you favor this interpretation. But the utilization of the
> Shekel began circa 125 BCE ...<
> I don't see that the provenance should prevent Jesus objecting to being
> taxed by impostors using pagan coinage.
interpretation of the commandment about "graven images" than were the
Pharisees? As most all the coinage in Israel was produced at foreign
mints (and all silver coinage, save for the Jerusalem produced T.
Shekels), and as all of that coinage bore pagan symbols, how do you
understand Jesus' stance on the coinage use in this case, as opposed to
just the daily transactions utilizing this coinage?
>> As for the aphorism about money and God, well, it turns it back to the
> listeners and crowds to figure this out, eh?<
> I have figured it out! :-)'
>Well, I'll leave your worries about news reporting to you, as well as
> Incidentally, Gordon, you have me very angry with the media for all
> fiction they publish as news: Suicide bombers can't possible get past
> several screens of trained military on high security alert in Iraq.
> IRA(?) can't possible penetrate elaborate bank security systems to
> with umpteen million. You try it! None of this can be historic, but
> was gullible old me taking it seriously.
your preferred "self assessment" (which I judge to be an interesting
rhetorical move, BTW. Have you resorted to fictional self
representation to score a rhetorical point? <g>). This note was about
the plausibility of this story. That's not the sole reason I take this
to be a fictional creation by Mark, not even the first reason. Sure,
highly improbable things happen and crimes/ terrorist acts that (in
most of these cited cases) are based on long term study, surveillance,
planning and teamwork. But back to my assessment of this as a
fictional creation:  I judge that we have one source for this story
(Mt., Lk. and Jn. copying from Mark), so I have no outside data to say
"yea" or "nay."  This is yet another story that is attached to
prophetic fulfillment related to a text source we do have (TANAK) 
In Mark it immediately follows another story rooted in fulfillment of
the Psalm 118/Zech. 9. As I noted this story falls into a whole series
of stories where in Jesus, the Christ, challenges all the ruling
powers/ dominions great and small (the power of the native royal
heritage, the temple, the piety of Pharisees and Saducees and Scribes,
the Priestly Court system, the Roman Court system and then, let me add,
the power of the masses and the self assurance of his own followers).
All are found wanting and so this story fits into this as a piece of
the high drama Mark is creating.  Precisely that John likes the
story, but was free to move it. And  this implausibility factor
that I've spelled out. These and the judgment that I think Mark is
creating an extended parable are what goes into my judgment that we are
not dealing with a report of some past event, but rather another fine
example of Mark's creative mind to create a powerful drama.
- Hi Loren,
>What are your sources for this judgment?
> First of all, the Bank of New Hampshire is never
> crowded shoulder-to-shoulder with masses of "pilgrims"
> when I cash my checks there. It's **much** easier for
> authorities to spot and pinpoint untoward behavior in
> modern day banks than the ancient temple during a
> passover festival.
BTW I looked up in JJ Rouseau's book ("Jesus and His World"). He
notes, based on conservative estimates, that the annual tax brought in
14.5 tons... tons!... of silver each year. I would rather suggest that
considering this amount of riches, the value of each coin that the
organization of the collection and the care with which it were done
were indeed high, very high. Could such be overcome (is it possible?),
well sure, but I take it that it would take much planning and scoping
>But again... what they did were crimes and the police are on the hunt.
> But more importantly, people get away with bank
> robberies all the time -- at least for a time. Here
> are a few recent examples from NH:
> 1. Boden Hughes got away with multiple robberies
> before being arrested.
> 2. This guy robbed a NH Bank and made away before
> being apprehended:
> 3. And I believe this guy is still at large:
In the Gospels the authorities after this are still looking for a way
to trap this guy with a legal charge and he's not rushing in and out
of anywhere nor hiding. Again, on the basis of this act I'd judge they
had plenty of grounds to arrest him. I'd also judge that his known
followers would at least be nabbed for questioning, if not arrested.
All these crooks are on the lam after committing the crime, not walking
around Nashua in broad daylight with a bunch of friends:)! Jesus is
nicely moving in and out of the city and standing right out there in
the public and challenging all sorts of folks with ties to the
>Well, do have a good April Fool's Day and as I wrote to Ernie, I'll
> So I do share some of Ernie's sentiments, when he
>> Incidentally, Gordon, you have me very angry with
>> the media for all the
>> fiction they publish as news: Suicide bombers can't
>> possible get past
>> several screens of trained military on high security
>> alert in Iraq. The
>> IRA(?) can't possible penetrate elaborate bank
>> security systems to abscond
>> with umpteen million. You try it! None of this can
>> be historic, but there
>> was gullible old me taking it seriously.
> Maybe the above media citations are, indeed, extended
> April Fools jokes. :)
leave such as this for you guys to ponder:)!
>Are you wanting to go with Fredrickson's idea that Jesus did this near
> In any case, it seems very likely that Jesus could
> have gotten away after the temple incident (assuming
> it happened). This suggestion is one of the real
> strengths of Fredriksen's book.
the start of his 3 year (Johannine) career? In other words, there's
really no arrestable offense in this? And if there were, then the
authorities, what, just ignored it for 3 years? I'd say if it did
happen, Paula's ideas is the least likely scenario.
- [Gordon Raynal]
>So, in this case and as regards the coinage, Jesus was stricter ininterpretation of the commandment about "graven images" than were the
Jesus' complaint is clearly articulated: "robbers cave", "wicked
vintners" - misappropriation of the temple by a regime he unambiguously
denounced. The coinage wasn't his primary concern, but scattering it was
hardly an expression of approval. ISTM that the principle role of that
coinage would have been to inhibit taking action against Jesus for his
demonstration because - although this was undoubtedly an arrestable
offence - the prospect of a counter charge of Torah violation about images,
compounded by the depiction of a pagan deity, would make prosecution
embarrassing. So, instead of promptly arresting him as soon as he had been
identified as the culprit, they bait him on Roman tax. Having them on the
defensive about the Tyrian shekel, Jesus presses his advantage with the
As I see it, it wasn't Jesus who was troubled by these coins, but his
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>people get away with bank[Gordon]
>robberies all the time -- at
>least for a time
>But again... what they did were crimes andObviously. The point is that it would have been easy
>the police are on the hunt.
>In the Gospels the authorities after this
>are still looking for a way
>to trap this guy with a legal charge and he's
>not rushing in and out of anywhere nor hiding.
for Jesus to get away after raising hell with the
money-changers, and evade capture for a time.
>Are you wanting to go with Fredrickson'sI don't think it's necessary to endorse the Johannine
>idea that Jesus did this near the start
>of his 3 year (Johannine) career? In other
>words, there's really no arrestable
>offense in this?
placement of the temple incident for Fredriksen's
point to hold. The temple incident could have happened
hours or days before crowds and pilgrims became
galvanized enough to attract serious attention. The
crucial question is whether or not Caiaphas is in the
driver's seat getting Jesus nailed. Sanders (and
others) think this is the case -- that the high priest
wanted Jesus dead for threatening the temple.
Fredrisken disputes this for (a) archeological reasons
(the size of the temple mount, especially seen in
scale to masses of very "small" people), (b)
historical reasons (if Pilate were just doing a favor
for Caiaphas, it would explain Jesus being murdered,
but not crucified), and (c) literary ones (John's
repositioning). But no, I don't think (c) calls for
endorsement of the way John actually places it, only
that a strict reading of the synoptics yields
problems. (That's old news anyway.)
>I'd say if it did happen, Paula'sFredrisken is convincing by drawing a strong line
>ideas is the least likely scenario.
between the "triumphal entry" (or whenever during the
crowds succumbed to messianic enthusiasm) and the
crucifixion. She is also persuasive about the chief
reason for Caiaphas' involvement -- helping Pilate
pinpopint and apprehend Jesus in order to avoid wider
bloodshed (Jn 11). I doubt, however, that Pilate
hitherto "knew" that Jesus' movement was harmless, as
she claims. Authorities would have been suspicious of
any kingdom talk. Then too, there seems to have been a
charge of sedition in the air over the question of
taxation. Jesus' veiled transcript ("Render to
Caesar") would have caused alarm while keeping him
safe at the same time. And threatening the temple was
obviously no joke, once people could identify Jesus
and tie him to the incident. I think it's a mistake to
look for a single reason for Jesus's execution. But it
makes sense to distinguish between immediate reasons
and subsequent charges (the latter of which don't
depend on truth when enaging in a show trial as a
preliminary to killing a low-life).
So messianic enthusiasm is a strong candidate for the
immediate reason for arrest and crucifixion. Charges
of temple threats and tax evasion only sealed Jesus'
fate, for the most part serving the purposes of a
theatrical show trial and more public example. Those
charges needn't have been true, though I think they
You, however, deny all of the above three (messianinc
enthusaism, temple incident, tax evasion) as causes
for arrest. (Do I understand you correctly?) So how do
**you** account for the "King of the Judeans'"
crucifixion? Or do you?
Loren Rosson III
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- Hi Loren,
On Apr 2, 2005, at 7:47 AM, Loren Rosson wrote:
> Obviously. The point is that it would have been easy
> for Jesus to get away after raising hell with the
> money-changers, and evade capture for a time.
What do you think about "the pandemonium" issue? I don't know how many
of these coins (with the other trade ins) would be on a given table,
but if these very valuable coins just started rolling all over the
place don't you think there would be a large scramble? Such would make
a getaway more plausible. Any thoughts?
> I don't think it's necessary to endorse the Johannine
> placement of the temple incident for Fredriksen's
> point to hold.
Thanks for the clarification.
> You, however, deny all of the above three (messianinc
> enthusaism, temple incident, tax evasion) as causes
> for arrest. (Do I understand you correctly?)
Yes (more below).
> So how do
> **you** account for the "King of the Judeans'"
> crucifixion? Or do you?
I honestly don't know. I think "the reason(s)" he got killed was
because he was the recognized "voice" of "a kingdom movement" that was
taking root in Galilee, H. Philip's domain, Samaria and Judea
(including Jerusalem). But as to the precise scenario of his
identification at Passover time, his arrest and crucifixion I don't
think we have records of that, rather we have a theological (and very
effective one) drama that is part of a parable created by Mark. Just
showing up and being identified as "this guy," as far as I'm concerned,
is quite enough to get hauled off for official state execution by
tortuous means of crucifixion to send the clear message that the state
would in no way tolerate any other kingdom allegiances than those
authorized by the state. I think that this grand drama that Mark
creates works, as I've said, to raise up the breadth of challenges that
were and are in Jesus' language about "God's Kingdom." Again... the
whole messianic heritage as it was popularly interpreted (so often to
such grievous and violent ends... and I think about the time when
Archelaus killed 3000 of his own subjects at Passover time because of
fears of sedition); what was being offered by the Pharisees, by the
Saducees, by the Scribes; the current rulers of the Temple
establishment; the current jurisprudence practice of the Temple
leadership; the Roman system of rule, "Pax" and "law;" the mob
mentality and even the self-assurance of Jesus' own followers is
powerfully raised up as being **entirely** wanting. The Markan parable
works to dramatize the choice being offered and the harsh realities for
those in the community to live with the choice they have made. In my
view, Mark written after the R-J war works to show precisely just how
right Jesus was some 50 years earlier. Popular messianism was squashed
again and again. The Roman appointed Temple establishment did nothing
to create unity. The "law" was anything but. The Roman "Pax" was
murderous. The mob mentality fueled by statist notions of Covenant had
led to Vespasian and Titus coming and so the utter destruction that
ensued. And counting on "self-assurance" was a sure path to denial or
flight into the proverbial night. The drama, in other words, clearly
works to show that Jesus was correct then and still correct in Mark's
time. I'd like to no more historical details, but I just don't think
the data we have contains them. I think what we do have is **far,
far** more important.
>And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers,grew numerous. They made use of small swords, not much different in length
from the Persian acinacae, but somewhat crooked, and like the Roman sicae,
[or sickles,] as they were called; and from these weapons these robbers got
their denomination; and with these weapons they slew a great many; for they
mingled themselves among the multitude at their festivals, when they were
come up in crowds from all parts to the city to worship God, as we said
before, and easily slew those that they had a mind to slay.<
Is this fiction; or historical evidence that you could actually get away
with murder - repeatedly - in the middle of a festival crowd? The surprise
element still works, even when something similar has happened previously
(One up for GJohn).
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