The Jesus-Chasing-Out-the-Money-Changers Didn’t Happen.

Jesus chasing the money changers out of the Temple is a favorite.  Artists love it, too, because they can create revealing faces and violent images.

Google the topic and you can spend weeks looking up endless interpretations of the story.  One preacher wrote, “It doesn’t mean selling things in church is sin.  Some selling, like the books we sell in our church, is OK.”

We must remember those who wrote the Bible did so with the intention of making a specific point to a specific audience at the time they wrote.  Whatever their purpose in writing the money-changer story, the authors did expect for readers to take it literally.

Recognize that currency was more important at that time than it is today.  There were no bank deposits.  Thus,  there were plenty of people who made their living as thieves, watching for unguarded moments.  We might call them thugs today.

People who had currency needed to defend against theft.   Guarding these assets was labor intensive–human guards, 24/7.  Even today in very poor countries, anyone with a good home and car hires people to guard them around the clock.

The owners of animals, which were also said to be for sale in the temple, would also have needed security protection.  The point is, there had to be far more armed gurards in the temple than there were money  changers.  They were not chased out by a guy with a homemade whip.

I must admit that, other than the fact it could not have happened, it’s a great story.

 

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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41 Responses to The Jesus-Chasing-Out-the-Money-Changers Didn’t Happen.

  1. entech says:

    Where you there?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 12:28 “Where you there?”

      There is one thing we today share with those who wrote the Bible, none of us were there.

      • entech says:

        Gee, how can you answer? I thought that was ken hams killer argument that absolutely destroyed evolution and anything else that wasn’t in scripture.

    • entech says:

      Jon 2:02 “none of us were there”

      George Santayana the Spanish/American Philosopher and Harvard teacher had a good comment on history and just be remembered by all who think scripture is history, especially New Testament writings.
      “History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.”

      Another quote which is just as valid and appropriate.
      “History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.”

  2. Kurt says:

    I’m no expert on ancient banking, but if there were no bank deposits in Jesus’ time, why did the servant in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) get reprimanded for not at least depositing his master’s money with the bankers so it could collect interest?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Kurt 1:06 Thanks for coming on to comment. There certainly were merchants who handled and guarded money. There were loans, receipts for depositied money that were probably used as money, at least they were used for money later in Europe. In the U. S. these receipts to gold or coins depositied were sometimes just manufactured, which would be something like we do today, though we regulate it. But, a system of deposits used as part of the money supply is more modern.

  3. Reese Witherspoon says:

    The next thing we’re going to hear is that man has been to the moon. I can’t believe that, because i’ve never been to the moon, and i have no idea how to get a rocket there. So using Jon-logic, there’s no way it happened.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Reese 1:35 Thanks for commenting. You would have to admit we do know how we got to the moon. We don’t know how one guy with a homemade whip chased many money changers and their guards. If you have an explanation, please share.

      • Reese Witherspoon says:

        no Jon…the point is you are unwilling to believe that it is possible that the scene at the temple happened. And using Jon-logic, if you don’t believe it or understand it, it ain’t possible.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Reese 3:40 “Jon-logic”
          I’m perfectly willing to believe anything that makes sense. If someone could make sense out of the money changer story, I would be happy to believe it. It would be helpful if defenders of the story could explain how one person with a whip could accomplish what was claimed. It would put skeptics like myself on the defense big time.

          I don’t mind if people want to believe that somehow it all happened. I just don’t happen to see how it could have happened.

      • entech says:

        Jon, I too would like to thank Reese for the comment. As you know I am pretty sceptical, but can’t quite bring myself to complete denial. I have a problem with the idea of an uncreated god begetting a son who is actually himself, this son was crucified until dead and then came alive after three days (Friday night to Sunday morning, more like 11/2), now all this happened in Jerusalem, so we can construct the argument like this:
        I have never been to Jerusalem;
        I don’t know how to get there;
        Therefore God does not exist and with no god no son and so no whips in the temple.

        Not exactly ‘Post hoc ergo propter hoc’, perhaps ‘non sequitur’, but never mind we can now throw all that stuff out of the window.
        I don’ know so it never happened, conversely, Christians don’t know so it did happen. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          entech 4:28 I appreciate you cannot bring yourself to complete denial. I, too, cannot bring myself to complete denial there was a Jew going around preaching reform. His name my have been Jesus. There seem to have been several such people, apparently more than one person named Jesus.

          The money changer story is given more credence by skeptics than some other Bible stories because it appeared more than once. But, none of the “believing” skeptics has gone into the Jesus-as-Rambo aspect.

          • entech says:

            It is more dramatic than most episodes, better cinema than saying be nice and don’t throw stones.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 6:18 The thing about the way the writers wrote the Temple story is they could have made it seem real by adding just one sentence–a sentence that explained how Jesus prevailed even when severely outnumbered.

            If someone could ask the ancient writers why that sentence is not there, I think they would have said, “That would have been dishonest. We wanted readers to know it was a fictional event.” It reads like fiction because–well, I won’t repeat myself.

  4. Henry says:

    “They were not chased out by a guy with a homemade whip.”

    More omnipotence trumping the historical record.

  5. PK says:

    Maybe they all had to check their weapons at the door, kind of like many government buildings and such. That whip would’ve hurt more than the little salaries the supposed guards received was worth.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      PK 2:48 “Maybe they had to check their weapons at the door…”

      That, or maybe Jesus just made a really mean face and made them run away.

      It’s just that there are those stories of miracles. Then, this story comes along and is a miracle but is not called one. It would have been more in character if the story had Jesus say, “God, smite the money changers,” and they all fell dead.

  6. Doubtful says:

    “I must admit that, other than the fact it could not have happened, it’s a great story.”

    I think this is the closest you have come to understanding the Bible.

  7. Henry says:

    “You would have to admit we do know how we got to the moon.”

    Very few people know “how” we got to the moon. The process, very complex. We do know we were there.

  8. PK says:

    Where’s WannaB?

  9. Michael Ross says:

    Jesus could have chased Pilot and Harod out of Judea and Caesar out of Rome but that is not what he came for. He did chase the usury bankers out of the temple and overturned their tables but they have returned and now run the world. Their time is short, however, as interest rates are 0% and they are running the presses day and night and have long since inflated there only financial weapon, fiat currency, into worthlessness. It (inflation) is just hanging out there on the bond market and slowly being dumped by foreign investors. At some point it will turn into a panic and then the moneychangers will again be out of the temple. This time they will stay out. Civilizations are based on economies and economies on currencies. When the dollar is gone the church, or at least a remnant thereof, will be there to pick up the pieces and begin to build His final Kingdom.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Michael 5:46 I like it that you linked my field of economics to religion. Few see a connection.

      I’m afraid you overplayed the role of “currencies”, however. Currency is less than 10% of the money we use. When people get more currency than they want to hold, they take it to a bank. Bank deposits are the other 90% of our money supply. Thus, “printing currency” does not cause inflation in today’s world.

      National debt, or gov’t spending more than it takes in, does not necessarily cause a breakdown. Our debt could be twice what it is and the country could go on as usual. It could be half of what it is and a breakdown could occur. It depends on whether people think they will be paid for the national debt they hold.

      The “housing crisis” was a mini example of loss of faith in debt. Home owners did not pay back loans–we all know the crazy things that are still the result.

      But, people have not been driven to believe in the final Kingdom by the housing crisis.

      • PK says:

        The economy based on faith. I bet more people had faith in our system when our money was literally as good as gold.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          PK 2:32 “The economy based on faith. I bet more people had faith in our system when our money was literally as good a gold.”

          It’s not impossible to have an economy based on gold as money. It’s just that we would need to have government impose absolute birth and population control. This might require increases in deaths if there were too many births. And, it would require government to have an absolute hammer to prevent the standard of living from rising. Both those require an increase in the amount of money needed. Of course, government would need to have absolute control over gold mining, the supply of money. If too much gold was mined, inflation, not enough, depression.

        • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

          There’s a trust/efficiency trade off in whatever a society agrees on as a ‘currency’. At one extreme you’ve got a pure barter economy where people are only willing to trade one thing of intrinsic worth for another in a direct transaction. At the other you’ve got a highly regulated, integrated, international market place that’s agreed to use electrons as a medium of exchange.

          If we decide that we don’t trust each other and/or the system enough anymore and go back to gold, you’re going to take an economical useful substance, stick it in a vault and let it sit idle. Less trust = less efficiency = everyone is worse off.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Not to mention, what use is gold.. It’s a metal ore. In short a rock…LOL. Who wants to cary around rocks to pay for stuff? I for one do not.

            You go right ahead and pay with gold. How you going to decide what value your rock is?

            2 grams of gold is wroth 1/4 of house? How would you compare what your bits of rock are worth to someone else? Without a currency there’s nothing to compare to….

            If I said I’d trade 1 bar or 100lbs of gold for your
            6 bedroom house with an indoor pool and sauna, with 5 bathrooms and a master hot tub suite. Would you consider that a good deal or a bad one? How would you know?

            There’s no point of reference, besides if you give me a 100lbs of gold what am I going to do with it? Now i have to hide it and protect it from would be thieves…

            I still say a currency free system would be better. Food for all, housing for all, and all based on one’s contributions to society. We actually work for the betterment of the society instead of the betterment of ourselves. :)
            Not saying we don’t better society at all, there’s always a paycheck for what we do, would we do what we do without a paycheck?

        • PK says:

          Gold isn’t perfect, but shouldn’t we back our currency with something instead of letting a private corporation create whatever it wants out of thin air? Salt or tea would be better than what we have today.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            Salt would be a disaster. It’s in everything, so if you make it money, you take a ton of it out of circulation and everything gets more expensive. Less trust = less efficiency = everyone is worse off. Plus you’re just handing the money printing franchise from the FED to whoever owns the salt mines so if you’re worried about a ‘private corporation’ running the money supply you’ve gone from a trumped up problem to an actual problem.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            PK 3:16 “Gold isn’t perfect, but shouldn’t we back our currency with something instead of letting a private corporation create whatever it wants out of thin air? Salt or tea would be better than what we have today.”

            You’ve summarized well the great debate of our times. Another way of stating it is, “Would not we be better off having the money supply determined by the luck of mining for gold than by humans who make mistakes?”

            Another great debate is whether the Federal Reserve, which creates and destroys bank deposits, (the size of total bank deposits) should be under it independent Board, or, be subject to the direction of Congress or the President, both elected.

            There are not clear cut answers to these. I think there would be a broad consensus that in the U. S., the economy before the 1930′s, when the Fed. Res. stumbled onto the technique for regulating the money supply and Roosevelt adopted the stimulation techniques reccommended by Keynes, was far more volitile, with deeper and more frequent boom and bust cycles, than it has been since. That is not to say reducing the size and verosity of business cycles is the only thing that is important, maybe there are other more important things to consideder.

            But, that is the reason Presidents, from Clinton to Bush II, continue to put faith in “managing” the wild and somewhat uncontrolable economy.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            I see the economy as something like the weather… It has patterns, causes and effects, and a tirade of science behind it, but, we still are unable to predict with accuracy when it’s going to rain. Same with economics. We could watch for patterns, monitor the systems across the globe and see what triggers different things. But, ultimately the economy is human driven, fears play a huge part in the economy. Afraid of something going bad, sell it off before it’s worthless.

            People panic at the silliest of things. So with an economy driven by mass psychology media, threats in newspapers, tabloids, news, advertisements, weather predictors, etc, all play into how economics play out.

            I liken it to the late night dairy queen effect.. Spur of the moment decision to go get dairy queen at 9-10 pm. and you get to the drive through and there’s like 10-15 cars in line, parking lot is full, and people waiting in lines out the door, and it’s like what the hell? Everyone suddenly have the same idea as me?

            What drove that? Was it subconscious, subliminal add on tv making certain types of people crave DQ or what? The economy will be as strange, mixed up, and messed up as people are for it is at the whims of people.

        • entech says:

          There is certainly a relationship between religion and currency. Both require belief and faith. If we did not all agree and hold a common belief that that funny piece of paper with the pretty pictures was actually ten dollars and have faith that it would maintain that value then it would be just a pretty piece of paper. Without faith and belief religion would only be words on paper. All the same I think fiat money is more reliable than fiat lux.

      • Michael Ross says:

        Good points. The Bible has more to say about money, finances, wealth and poverty, gold and silver than any other subject. The Bible is very much an economic treatice.

    • Dorian says:

      The end of the world… How long have we heard that and …

  10. Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

    I’m less interested in what may of actually happend or not than I am in what people that what is on the page might mean.

    Question: Who are the bad guys in the story? Is it the money changers themselves or is it the religious authorities who grant them the franchise to operate in the temple?

  11. Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

    Lets try that again…

    I’m less interested in what may of actually happend or not than I am in what people think about the meaning of what’s actually on the page.

    Question: Who are the ‘bad guys’ in the story? Is it the money changers themselves or is it the religious authorities who grant them the franchise to operate in the temple?

  12. andy says:

    Your obvious problem is one of ego. It seems that because the surrounding circumstances you conclude would likely surround the story are unlikely to you, you’ve concluded that the story didn’t happen. This same fallacy led prior to believe that the earth was the center of the universe. You’d do well to take down this post; your opinion of how these businessmen, with literally nothing but your own opinion to support your argument, isn’t helpful. I’ll check in here in a few days to make sure you’ve come to your senses, and if need be I’ll fashion a whip and ridicule you.

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