The Social Setting of Jesus and the Gospels

By Wolfgang Stegemann; Bruce J. Malina et al. | Go to book overview

17
Money in the Moral Universe
of the New Testament

Douglas E. Oakman

You cannot serve God and mammon.

—Luke 16:13

For the love of silver [money] is the root of all evil.

—1 Tim 6:10

Standard treatments of biblical numismatics arc limited in shedding light on the social significance of ancient money.1 The usual attention to art motifs and denominations is useful from a historical and metrological point of view, but does very little as far as illuminating money’s social place. This essay proposes an alternative approach that produces insights on a number of fronts: in relating numismatics to social-world questions, in assessing the social character of the Jesus movement, in developing social indices for decisions about redactional settings in life, and, generally, in shedding light on the origins and composition of the New Testament Gospels.

The discussion is organized through four theses and two excursuses. It is first suggested that standard treatments of biblical numismatics do not attain sufficient social insight. Part of the reason for this is that numismatic treatments related to the Bible have not been sufficiently in dialogue with the larger field of numismatics, as Richard Oster pointed out more than a decade ago. Moreover, there is palpable need for conceptual approaches informed by broader social questions and controlled through theory-informed models. For this reason, the discussion turns to the elaboration of a model regarding ancient money’s social functions. This impels an analysis of descript money in the Jesus traditions, with an eye to the historical Jesus’ views on the institution

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