Literature Review Chapter: Render Unto the Caesar

Pages: 15 (4286 words)  ·  Style: Turabian  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Several explanations give detailed information on how political matters correlate with the moral or religious considerations (Peter, Lewis & Bolden 2002, 26). Perhaps, other people have come to a great deal of considerations and view the secular setting or sphere to be absolute, and state totalitarian, thereby justifying the matter of laying down laws even when it comes to worship and religious matters. Nevertheless, the criticism to this claim always relies on the rider to which Jesus supplemented that we must also offer unto the Lord what belongs to Him. "We must always obey the Lord rather than any other human authority- Acts 5: 29" (Calvin, George & Kennedy 1986, 104), this is the claim that Peter together with other apostles had when they received an order to stop preaching about Jesus.

Alternatively, other explanations view this saying to be supportive of the strict distinction between the civil and religious spheres, or between the States and the Church (Maule & Joshua 2008, 372). Evidently, the government introduced this consideration into their constitution, decreeing that the Congress shall create no law respecting the American religious establishments, or even prohibiting its free exercise (Lawrence, Scotty, McLennan & John 1988, 215). Remarkably, during his visit to the U.S. In 2008, Pope Benedict commended the American separation for the way by which, historically, not only the Catholics, but also all other American believers found the freedom to worship the Lord in compliance with the dictates of their conscience (David & Marshall 2001, 739). At the same time, the United States also deliberated, accepted and respected the worship of God as part of the commonwealth considerations within which every individual or group has the right to voice hearing. On the other hand, other people understood and considered the Church's rule, or God's sphere as absolute, leading to theocracy, which offers no scope for autonomy or independence, just as found in the ancient Israel or in Geneva (Lawrence, Scotty, McLennan & John 1988, 208). The 2nd Vatican Council strived to strike the balance between the secular and sacred matters when it observed that within their suitable spheres, the Church and the political community are self-governing and mutually independent (Michael 1996, 46). However, through diverse titles, each serves the social and personal vocations of the same human beings who collectively initiate them (David & Gross 2008, 34). Critics supported that this service could be more effective for rendering to the good of all; supposing each could work best for the wholesome mutual teamwork, depending on both time and place circumstances (Peter & Davis 1999, 145).

Taking a detailed analysis at this New Testament passage, various sources drew a further conclusion that Jesus simply implied that he, together with his fellow citizens owed no obligations to the Roman authorities through acknowledging the public benefits, which they accrued from the Caesar's rule (David & Gross 2008, 24). This similar context also lied behind the St. Paul's statement to the Roman Christians (Peter, Lewis & Bolden 2002, 21), stating that they were not to pay taxes to the governing authorities since he perceived the authorities as God's servants and their fundamental role was to ensure everyone's security and protection, as well as peace and order for the entire public within their jurisdictions (Brown & John 1839, 184). If one looks definitely at the exchange of questions and responses between Jesus and his opponents, it clearly appears that none can really succeed in looking into the two diverse spheres of activities- one concerning God and the other not the Lord's concern. These two dominions can never lie on the same plane of comparison- individuals may sometimes opt to prefer God over the Caesar, but will surely never prefer the Caesar to God (Maule & Joshua, 2008, 370). According to the observation made by the Vatican II, even during the secular affairs, no individual can ever withdraw from a single activity from God's dominion. Indeed, the Caesar together with all that are his, belong to God (David & Gross 2008, 41); however, the will of the Lord may be that the humans respect the secular authorities, as long as they too do not trespass on God's prerogatives.

Today's gospels often cite the biblical authorities for separating the church from the state through different interpretations of the meaning of rendering unto Caesar what are Caesar's and unto God the things that belong to God (Robert & Miller 1995, 407). Jesus is trapped in making a suggestion on the questions whether the Mosaic laws that bind the Jews to the covenanting population allow for the payment of taxes to the much hated "foreign occupying power" in Judaea (Brown & John 1839, 180). On the contrary, Jesus supports the separation of the church from state (Lawrence, Scotty, McLennan & John 1988, 217), but without demoralizing his opponents who were plotting to trap him using the simple question. The Pharisees alongside Herodias were struggling to challenge Jesus against the sacred temple walls in Jerusalem. The Herodias served as explicit supporters of the Roman rule (Geoffrey & Davis 1992, 411), which placed Herod as the local Jewish King having powers over the Judean territory. On the other hand, the Pharisees were the Jewish intellectual elites, distinguished by their comprehensive knowledge of the Mosaic laws, which they explicitly studied and strongly got attached to. They begrudged the Roman tax payment; however, they would not go beyond the radical nationalists- the Zealots, and publicly resist the payment (Anne & Desmond 1993, 34). Nonetheless, the Herodias buttressed the payment of these taxes, thereby putting Jesus on the spot, "would he support the payment of taxes, and appear apologetic to the eyes of the Roman authorities and Jewish nationalists, or would he oppose the payment of taxes, thereby making himself a subject an automatic arrest for violation of the Roman law?" (Brown & John 1839, 182).

According to Evans & Joshua (2008, 90), Jesus' response was in a very clever way. It turned out as if the Roman taxes could only be payable through the Roman coins, which mostly had the inscription and image considered blasphemous by many Jews. Translated in parts, it read "Tiberius Caesar son of the divine Augustus " So Jesus asked for the kind of coin used for the payment of tax (David & Marshall, 2001, 737). They brought him a small coin- Roman denarius. Notably, this meant that the Jewish biblical teachers- the Pharisees were enforced to offer, within the temple's most sacred context, a Roman coin with its inscription and image that quite was idolatrous, yet proclaiming the divinity of the Caesar (Evans & Joshua 2008, 92).

In a different interpretation, Jesus in his phrase made it crystal clear that the Caesar is not God, and God is also not the Caesar hence the most important meaning here was that the things that are God's were not just some oppressive coins from the foreigners (Brown & John 1839, 185). In the similar chapter of Matthew towards the end, in an answer to a different question posted by the Pharisees, Jesus explicitly answers what he meant to belong to the Caesar when he states that one should love the Lord with all their heart (Maule & Joshua 2008, 369), and with all their soul, and with all his/her mind, and that everyone should love one's neighbor just as one loves themselves. According to Calvin, George & Kennedy (1986, 105), these two statements or commandments meant a lot as they entirely cling onto the Mosaic laws and other prophecies within the bible (Practice & Doctrine 2001, 871). Brown and John (1839, 183) further elicit that it turned out that tax payment to an occupying power nowhere violates the Mosaic laws hence; the Pharisees together with their learning could not actually manage to theologically trap Jesus. However, their intent was basically sensible and political anyway. As revealed earlier in Matthew 12, the Pharisees had conspired against Jesus, and were plotting to kill him. He thereby tactfully responded by giving an unexpected answer, which had both theological and political implications. Taking a keen consideration into the main verse Matthew 22: 15, - then the Pharisees went and conspired on how they could entangle Jesus through talks. (17) Then tell us what things? Is it lawful to offer tribute unto the Caesar, or not? (22) When they heard this response, they marveled and left him, then went their ways. After confronting a great challenge from Jesus concerning the payment of taxes (Anne & Desmond 1993, 39), they terminally hoped to alienate him either from the Roman authorities or from the Jewish oppressed masses.

An alternative way of seeking an explanation to this phrase quoted by Jesus is through considering that he was operating within a high religiously charged political environment. As a result, he never shied from publicly doing or performing what he had a conviction that was religiously correct within the political… [END OF PREVIEW]

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