The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 7, February 16, 2014, Article 6


Money-of-the-Bible_cover-image The latest edition of this classic reference has been available since August 2013. The 120-page large-format book by Ken Bressett is hardbound with a glossy color dust jacket. The press release summed it up well as follows:

“Money and coins are mentioned many times, and in many places, in the Old and New Testaments,” Bressett said. “They give us a running commentary on biblical events in a way that no other artifacts can supply.” He presents their stories and explores their relevance in the updated third edition of Money of the Bible, which includes expanded text and many additional and upgraded photographs.

In Money of the Bible he studies how the Bible was written, and its nature; commerce before coins; coins of Old Testament times; coins in the New Testament; first-century money and trade; coins mentioned in Jesus’ parables and lessons; coins and the Passion of Christ; the beginning and spread of Christianity; and how to collect coins with Biblical themes. A detailed index of terms and Bible verses rounds out the text and its full-color photographs.

The opening chapter is a useful lesson in ancient writing, describing the physical forms in which the stories of the Bible were recorded and handed down through history. Clay tablets and scrolls (such as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls), along with the work of thousands of scribes, helped ensure the survival of these precious 66 books by 40 authors over a period of about 1,600 years. Chapter Two is a brief overview of the nature and languages of the Bible together with an illustrated overview of the history of the ancient world.

Chapter Three provides background on "Commerce Before Coins". Before coins came along people made do with barter and the exchange of silver, gold and other precious metals in jeweler and other forms. Illustrated are early bronze ingots and ancient lumps of electrum, a raw mixture of silver and gold.

The "Coins of Old Testament Times" (Chapter 4) opens the discussion of coins of Bible days. The earliest coins mentioned in the Bible are gold darics of the Persian King Darius I (illustrated earlier on p15). Illustrations here include a silver half stater of Lydia and silver sigoli of the Persian Empire. Here (and throughout the book) are direct quotations of Bible passages mentioning or referring to coins, such as:

And when Moses had gathered the multitude together again, he ordained that they should offer half a shekel for every man, as an oblation to God; which shekel is a piece among the Hebrews, and is equal to four Athenian drachmae, (Antiquities 3.8.2)

Chapter Five covers the "Coins in the New Testament". Topics include coins of the year Jesus was born and coins of the Magi. Early coins of the Procurators, and the coins of Pontius Pilate.

Later chapters discuss first-century money and trade, and the beginning and spread of Christianity. The most important chapter for the casual reader is probably Chapter Seven: "Parables, Lessons and Coins," which include stories of the Good Samaritan, the moneychangers in the temple, the Tribute Penny, the Widow's Mite and the coin in the fish's mouth.

This is a substantial chapter, illustrating some 37 different coins, including Athenian "owl" tetradrachms, double shekels of Sidon, small Syrian coppers, coins of Herod and Orodes II, plus various coins of the Maccabees.

Chapter Ten covers "Collecting Coins With Biblical Topics." These include ancient, Byzantine, medieval and modern coins depicting Biblical events and themes such as angels, Noah's Ark, and Ezekiel's Vision.

Money of the Bible is a short but effective and authoritative introduction to this important and popular collecting area. In summary, I highly recommend the latest edition of Money of the Bible to all numismatists, whether they collect ancient coins or not. A copy should be in every school and university library, as well as every church and synagogue. The book is one of Whitman's perennial best-sellers with good reason.

Money of the Bible: A Numismatic Chronicle of Events, 3rd edition ∙ Kenneth Bressett ∙ Foreword by Paul Rynearson ∙ ISBN 079483955X ∙ 120 pages ∙ Coffee-table (10 x 12 inches) hardcover with dustjacket ∙ Full color ∙ Retail $29.95

Publisher Dennis Tucker adds:

I'm very pleased with the third edition --- it had such a solid foundation in the first and second editions, and Ken added even more information and imagery to the third, plus in my opinion the design is stronger and more visually compelling. We're very pleased to have such a book in the Whitman list. It accomplishes the best of numismatic writing and research, touching on many facets of life, humanity, and the universe. "Money of the Bible" is the kind of book that really fires up the ol' brain cells!

For more information, or to purchase, see: Money of the Bible - 3rd Edition (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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