EThe Cleansing of the Temple

The cleansing of the Temple points in a similar direction. We can rule out the suggestion that Jesus attempted a military coup, intended presumablv to seize the vacant throne of Herod the Great. That leaves us with a prophetic protest which acknowledged the centralitv of the Temple for God's dealings with Israel, but also enacted some kind of aspirations for the Temple (or a new temple) to fulfil its eschatological role. Again the lack of reference to the episode in Jesus' trial (unless it is implicit in the testimonv about Jesus' Temple word) mav indicate that it was not reckoned as particularlv serious, either politicallv or propheticallv. And that is about as much as we can sav with confidence. How the episode contributes to the question of whether Jesus saw his role in messianic terms is hard to sav.164 But he acted presumablv in the light of the eschatological expectations for the Temple (renewed Temple), and possiblv as a self-conscious actor in the eschatological drama alreadv beginning to unfold.

f. Tribute to Caesar

Our question is not much further clarified bv Jesus' response to the question about tribute to Caesar. For it has alwavs been recognized as a classic example of diplomatic ambiguitv. Brandon's argument that it would have been heard as forbidding tribute, since the land and all its produce belongs to God, has an echo in the accusation attested onlv in Luke 23.2 ('We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar'). But the clearer inference, given that the saving was uttered with reference to a denarius bearing the head of Tiberius (Mark 12.16 pars.),166 is that Jesus acknowledged the right of the Em doubt that Jesus associated himself with Zech. 9:9' (Witherington, Christology 106); 'clearty messianic' (Wright, Jesus 491); Jesus deliberate^ evoked and enacted the kingty role indicated in Zech. 9.9 — Israel's 'divinety appointed king who was to lav claim to his city to inaugurate the eschatological restoration' (Tan, Zion Traditions 149-56). In some contrast, Fredriksen, though dubious of most of the detail in the Gospels' accounts, argues that it was the crowd, not the disciples, and not Jesus himself, who first identified and proclaimed Jesus as Messiah (Jesus 241-58).

164. Bolder again is Witherington: 'Onlv rovaltv would dare to interfere as Jesus did'; '. . . he saw himself as the messianic figure of Zechariah' (Zech. 14.21) (Christology 113-15). See further below, §17.3.

165. The phrase is the same in Luke 20.22 (Kaisariphoron dounai) and 23.2 (phorous Kaisari didonai), although Mark 12.14/Matt. 22.17 use the Latin loan word kensos (census) rather than phoros (see further BDAG ad

166. On the identity of the coin see H. St. John Hart, 'The Coin of "Render unto Caesar . . .'", in Bammel and Moule, Jesus and Politics 241-48.

peror to levy tribute from his subject peoples.167 Here again. the fact that the charge features so little in the trials of Jesus (Luke 23.2 apart) suggests that no case of any weight could be built on it.168 That the saying contributes anything towards an answer to our question. therefore. is at best uncertain. But it certainly bears witness to Jesus' own political astuteness.

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