Friday, May 30, 2008

The Mark of the Beast and Aniconic Jews

In the dissertation I'm currently reading by Deborah Taylor, she discusses the "mark of the beast" from Revelation 13. She recounts how Jews in Palestine had been provoked by "perceived idolatry of representations of the Roman emperor: by athletic trophies; by a golden eagle on a temple gate; by Pilate's brining 'the effigies of Caesar...' into Jerusalem." (Pg 105, citing Josephus Antiquities 15.8.1 and 17.6.2-3).

She goes on to give a brief history of the monetization of the East's economy and then talks about the mint that produced "virtually all" of Palestine's coinage, the mint at Tyre. Not only was the coinage produced at Tyre of a very high quality (Taylor states that it was about 96% silver - pg 108), but that it did not offend the aniconic Jews' sensibilities being that it bore the image of Melqart, the Phoenician Hercules.

However, during Nero's reign, both economic and political forces caused the Tyrian mint to be closed and later its currency to be removed from circulation (109). The closest mint was the Antiochene mint, which produced coinage bearing the image of Nero. Thus, as Taylor states, "[b]y the late 60s, aniconic Jews in Palestine would have compromised their principles with every major purchase."(109)

This isn't her entire argument (nor the focus of her argument, she simply uses this to help date the book of Revelation to the time of Nero's reign) - but I find it an interesting one. For the fact that there's incredible speculation about what the mark of the beast will be (I've heard everything from barcodes to credit cards to social security numbers), it's refreshing that someone has taken the book in its historical context and given an extremely compelling explanation of the mark.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Update

Things are back up with the blogging machine, so here I am! In my little hiatus I was able to do quite a lot of reading. I'm currently working through Deborah F. Taylor's dissertation titled, "The Geographical and Adversarial Orientation of the Book of Revelation." She graduated with her Ph.D from CUA in 2005. It's an incredibly interesting dissertation (as far as dissertations go). I'm also reading through Carl Olson's critique of dispensationalism, "Will Catholics Be Left Behind? A Catholic Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers." Olson is a former Evangelical who attended a Bible college that apparently had dispensationalist leanings. His critique is well-sourced in both dispensationalist authors and their critics. I'm also reading Mike Aquilina's, "The Mass of the Early Christians" (2nd Ed). I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Aquilina a few times. It's odd, but because I know him, I enjoy reading his books more - does anyone else have this experience? At any rate, it's a fantastic read and you should check out this book along with any others he's written.

I'll be getting back into more New Testament blogging shortly. I will say that I find as an undergraduate, blogging is daunting. When you're competing (if I can use that word) for readers' attention with people like Pat Mccullough, Chris Tilling, Jim West, Mark Goodacre, James Crossley, etc, it's difficult to have something intelligent and interesting to say on a regular basis when you're not as well-trained as them.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blogging machine is down

My blogging machine is down. I should be back to the usual posting shortly.