Show Me The Money: Pedagogy, Numismatics, And The New Testament -- By: Alexander E. Stewart
STR 10:1 (Spring 2019) p. 51
Show Me The Money:
Pedagogy, Numismatics, And The New Testament
Jacob D. Ott
Tyndale Theological Seminary, The Netherlands
Roman imperial and provincial coins are important for understanding religion, politics, and culture in the first century. They are also able to make a unique and valuable pedagogical contribution to classroom teaching in both the academy and the church. In an effort to promote this pedagogical use of ancient coins, this article will (1) provide a brief introduction to biblically relevant coins from the Old Testament, intertestamental, and New Testament periods; (2) briefly illustrate the relevance of numismatics for New Testament studies; and (3) provide practical guidance for the acquisition and pedagogical use of ancient coins.
Key Words: imperial cult, New Testament, numismatics, pedagogy
Biblical scholars familiar with ancient coins regularly lament the lack of integration and inter-disciplinary interaction between numismatics and biblical studies.1 Those involved with biblical studies are often not convinced that the interpretive value added justifies the time and energy investment necessary to benefit from numismatics or simply do not have the time to even consider exploring this fascinating field. Scholars and teachers of the Bible, however, neglect coins to their loss and the loss of their students for several reasons.2 (1) First-century coins provide an invaluable window into the religious and political Greco-Roman and Jewish world within which the gospel was first proclaimed.3 (2) Basic awareness of ancient coins is helpful to properly
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interpret many biblical texts (see tables below). (3) Numismatics has proven to be an invaluable source supplementing our understanding of Jewish history, especially from the exile until the Bar Kochba revolt.4 (4) Coins can make a unique and valuable pedagogical contribution to classroom teaching in both the academy and the church.
The pedagogical value of coins, in particular, is often neglected; coins are valuable teaching aids not just for undergraduate or graduate students but for church members in Bible studies and small groups. Because many ancient coins have survived and are available at a low cost, anyone teaching on the widow’s mite (lepton), two sparrows being sold for an as (assarion), Jesus’s illustrative use of a denarius, or ...
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