Sunday, August 8, 2010


Periodically, I see someone brag about having read the entire Bible cover-to-cover multiple times. I'm never quite sure whether this is really something to brag about, but it is handy thing to throw out in an argument when someone questions your knowledge. Unfortunately, I have never had the discipline to wade through the entire Old Testament and sometimes I run across passages in the New Testament that I had never noticed before.

It can be embarrassing to find that I don't know the New Testament as well as I thought I did, but it can be delightful as well. Finding some new oddity is sort of like running across an episode of Gilligan's Island that you've never seen before. For example, until yesterday, I never realized that Jesus performed coin tricks.

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me." Matthew 17:24-27
I'm surprised this passage isn't cited regularly as proof of the historicity of the gospels.  I am hard pressed to answer the standard apologetic question, "Why would anybody make that up?"

On the same theme, here's a little sacrilege from South Park:


  1. Funny! Yes, why is that criteria ("why would anybody make that up?" used so frequently in defense of the historicity of the gospels but not other parts of the bible? Or I guess, per your example, only certain parts of the gospels and not others.

  2. I suppose that the key to "why would anybody make that up?" defense is to pick something that is weird, but not too weird e.g., the zombie saints of Matthew 27:51-52. If you pick something too weird, it invites the answer "because he wasn't playing with a full deck."

  3. Now that you mention it, I don't think I've ever heard a sermon about Jesus' coin trick. I wonder if that's because most of the Christians I know are Republicans? Of course, their anti-tax position doesn't stop them from passing around the offering plate every week.

  4. Color me like you, that I grew up with the bible and thought I knew what was in it. Until I started blogging it that is, I'm finding out what's in there is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from what I've heard all my life.

    My take on Matt 17 was a little different: J didn't perform a coin trick, he just gave Peter an order. The question then is, "did Peter find a shekel?"