Monday, April 16, 2012

Jesus' Coin?

Collecting ancient coins is fun because each coin is a time machine. You hold it in your hand and find yourself transported back to the time when it was struck. Since we're on the subject of Christianity and Rome, let us examine a numismatic link between them.

The coin shown below is a part of my ancient coin collection.

Known as an AE Prutah, this is the ancient Roman bronze coin of Jerusalem. Prutah is a word borrowed from the Mishnah and the Talmund meaning "a coin of smaller value" -- one thousandth of a pound. A loaf of bread at that time sold for 10 Prutot (plural form). Prutot were manufactured in Israel because the Jewish people refused to trade in Roman coinage.

This particular coin was minted during the Prefecture of Pontius Pilate who governed from 26 to 36 A.D. Pilate was of the equestrian rank and a member of the Pontii family. During the time of his administration, Pilate offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects, leading to harsh criticism from Philo and Josephus. According to the latter, he was ordered back to Rome after harshly suppressing a Samaritan uprising, arriving just after the death of Tiberius, which occurred on 16 March in the year 37.

What makes the coin especially interesting is the code LIZ on the reverse which means it was struck in 29 A.D. around the time of the crucifixion. So we have a coin which we know was struck in Jerusalem during the Prefecture of Pontius Pilate and may have been in circulation at the end of Jesus' life.

Who might have held this coin in their hand?


sftommy said...

Reading Gibbons I've followed Roman Coins on Ebay, bought a few, collected pictures of denarii of the Emporors. Adds another perspective to see hardware when reading. Some of the bronze coins are clearly minted to pay troops and even specific legions. Like I said perspective!

Sdunn said...

I noticed the image on this coin of yours, and recognized it from a show I saw on the the shroud of Turin.
I looked it up to make sure I and here is what is said:

Conclusion from Professor Alan Whanger's research:

1. Professor Alan Whanger's amazing research seems to indicate that the coins placed over the anatomical eyelids on the Shroud were both minted by Pontius Pilate in the year AD 29.

2. Not only were they minted in the year A.D. 29, but they were both placed over the eyelids of the Body of Jesus Christ at the same time.

3. The fact that both coins were placed over the eyes at the same time means that, by the laws of probability, the Crucifixion happened within a few short year of 29 A.D, and that the Shroud is also therefore dated within a few short year of 29 A.D.

4. Many people, including ourselves, believe that the Crucifixion took place in A.D. 33. Please visit The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ for proof of this.

5. It therefore seems very likely that the Shroud dates from the time of Jesus Christ.

--As you stated in your article, you never know who's hands have held those coins, or what journey they may have been on.

Read more about the coins in the image of the shroud:

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

Unknown said...

I too just ordered this coin but on the back shows three ears of barley. Im not sure why there were 2 versions. I also wondered who handled it, I would be happy if the person who had it was taught by Jesus. I only wish we had a technology that shows us the history of the coin.

Anonymous said...

I just received my AE Prutah that is gauged to be 9 AD and 12 AD during the Prefecture Marcus Ambibulus. It has a palm tree with two bundles of dates and the other side an ear of barley.