Jan 5, 2010

Coins and the New Testament: Teaching and Preaching Possibilities

I recently enjoyed reading through Lawrence E. McKinney’s article “Coins and the New Testament: From Ancient Palestine to the Modern Pulpit,” Review and Expositor 106 (2009): 467–89. One aspect of the article in particle that I found interesting was hpow the author uses coins in his teaching and preaching ministry. I have reproduced part of his discussion below.

“The possibilities for using coins of the New Testament period for religious education and homiletics are bounded only by one's creativity. Gaining access to information, examples and illustrations of the coins has never been greater. This is due to the growing number of books and articles on the subject, and the abundance of images and information available by means of web searches. If one performs web searches of images and subjects using such topics as “Roman Coins,” “Jewish Coins,” or “Biblical Coins,” hundreds of photos and drawings will turn up.

“I personally like to use PowerPointTM to help me present my numismatic information to groups. I further prefer to illustrate each with a “show-and-tell” consisting of a display of actual coins from my teaching collection. As a public school educator, I have found this to be a highly successful method for teaching my high school special education students about antiquity. We have come to call it our “Friday Treasure of the Week.” The students seem to eagerly anticipate each Friday lesson. They regularly tell me it makes history more real to them, and they wonder how many students, besides themselves, ever actually get to hold such pieces of living history. I receive the same feedback from the church, synagogue and other groups to whom I present. It seems no one outgrows the love of “show-and-tell.”

“More recently, I have begun to explore using coins from New Testament times as the basis for a sermon series. I project a picture of the coin for the congregation to see as I preach, and then they are invited to see and hold the actual item after the service. For the public speaker or preacher who would like to try an even more avant-garde approach, maybe the idea of letting the artifact tell its own story in the first person would be worth exploring. Some great examples can be found in a series of five articles by Frank L. Holt, Professor of History at the University of Houston, which have been published in Saudi Aramco World magazine [“I Witness History.” The latest installment can be found in: Frank L. Holt, “I, The Sea Tramp," Saudi Aramco World (2009): 18–23].”

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