Silver Denarius during the time of Jesus Christ
Jesus’ ministry took place during the rule of Tiberius Caesar. Because of the rise of his popularity, some of Jesus’ opponents tried to trap him by asking about the matter of paying head tax to Caesar.
But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it.” They brought one. And he said to them, “Whose is this image and superscription?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus then said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
When archeologists discovered a silver denary bearing the head of Tiberius Caesar, it was found out that the coin was put in circulation about 15 A.D. This is consistent with Tiberius period of rule as emperor, which began in 14 A.D. and it brings added support to the record stating that John the Baptist’s ministry commenced in the 15th year of Tiberius or 29 A.D. We can read this in the writings of Luke in 3:1-2:
“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”
This denarius featuring Tiberius on the obverse and his mother Livia on the reverse, would have been the coin Jesus held up in His speech. It was the only type of denarius in circulation throughout Jesus’ adult life.
Other scientific experiments were made to attest this discovery. In the late 1980’s, two internationally respected Italian scholars from the University of Turin, Professor Luigi Baima Bollone, a medical examiner and Professor Nello Balossino, an expert in computer-enhanced technology were able to establish that the coin was minted in the reign of Emperor Tiberius corresponding to 29 A.D. in our system of dating.
The coin which is referred to as “Tribute Penny” by collectors today was also mentioned in the book of Matthew 22:17-22:
“Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.”
This archeological finding clearly shows the reliability of what is written in the Bible… a discovery that proves how authentic the Bible is.
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