Nov 6, 2018

A Quadrans of Claudius and the Bible

Recently I was looking at a quadrans of Claudius (AD 41–54) and on this particular coin there is an image of a hand holding a pair of scales (see picture below). Since coins were one way for leaders to project a particular image, I was interested in the significance of the image. My initial two guesses were that it was an economical symbol or a judicial symbol. But, significant help is provided by paying attention to the Latin inscription containing three letters, PNR between the scale’s pans. The meaning of the letters is understood in at least two ways, Pondus Nummi Restitutum, meaning, “the weight of the coinage restored” or Ponderum Norma Restituta, meaning, “the standard of the weights restored.”[1] “This interesting obverse likely commemorates a weight improvement for certain denominations.”[2] So apparently the scales are about the assurance that the coins weigh as they should.

I see at least two illustrative uses of this coin in biblical teaching and preaching. It could be used to provide an image of what at least some handheld scales looked like in the first century for a passage like Revelation 6:5. Also, both the image and the inscription could be used illustrate biblical passages relating to dishonest scales (e.g., Ezek 45:10; Hos 12:7; Amos 8:5; Mic 6:11). 

(2) Ibid.

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