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MARK xii 42 AND ITS METROLOGICAL

BACKGROUND
A study in ancient Syriac versions
BY
DANIEL SPERBER
London
In Mark xii 41 -4, it is related how Jesus sat by the treasury and
watched the people casting money into it. Among them were many
a rich person, who apparently made large donations. But then there
came a poor widow, and she cast in "two mites which make a
farthing", or in other words a trifling sum. Whereupon Jesus called
to his disciples and explained to them that the gift of this poor
widow was worth so much more than all the wealthy people's rich
donations, etc. The same story is related with only very slight
differences in Luke xxi 1-4. In the following study we would wish
to examine the textual traditions concerning the poor widow's gift
as presented in different versions and manuscripts, and relate
these traditions to their various metrological backgrounds.
In table I we have set out the source material, numbering each
version from i to 6 etc. Even on the most cursory glance at the
above table certain points become evident:

(a) In both the Greek and the Latin la) versions (i and 2) the
smaller coins, two of which make up the larger coin (in
column A), do not change their name (from columns A to B).
Thus either "two lepta" or "two minuta". In the Peshitta
version, on the other hand, first (3A) we read that "two mania
make a shamuna"-meaning that the shamuna is the larger

1a) For the Greek variants see, HERMANFreiherr VONSODEN,Die Schriften


des Neues Testaments, (Gttingen 1913), Teil 2, 1A p. 204, 1B p. 362, 1C p. 11,
1D p. 320, and TISCHENDORF'SNovum Testamentum Graece, vol. 1 (Leipzig
1869), 1A p. 386, 1B p. 675, 1C p. 19, 1D p. 593.
A2 is the translation of of BIQK etc. (TISCHENDORFibid.).
The only other significient varant is in 1D . (D = Cod.
Bezae Cantab VI), cf. Latin quadrantem (b c e f ff2 etc.) TISCHENDORF
ibid. These appear to be harmonistic readings.
See also ADOLF JLICHER'S,Das Neue Testament in Altlateinischer ber-
lieferung (Berlin, vol. 1, Mat. 1938, vol. 2, Mark 1940). For 2A he brings
(vol. 2, p. 119) a reading minuta duo, (= ), aera minuta duo,
and quadram (bff2). For 2C see vol. 1, p. 24.
179

coin-then (3B) we read "two shamunas", according to


which it would appear that the shamuna is the smaller coin.

(b) Both IA 2A and 6A mention the quadrans (or quadrantes)


as being the larger coin, while in 3A, 4A and 5A such a coin
does not figure.

(c) Both 4 and 5 have harmonized texts A and B (as had i and 2)
in that in both of them the shamuna is the smaller half-
denomination. In 4A the full denomination is called "tumna",
in 5A "rub'a".

(d) 6A mentions the quadrantes as the full denomination (= lA,


2A), but the half-denomination is here an assar (or issar).
In 6B, on the other hand, the coin mentioned is a "zuz",
which had not figured in 6A at all, neither as the half nor as
the full denomination.

Having pointed out these differences, let us now examine the


terms themselves. The lepta according to LIDDELL & SCOTT, is a
very small coin (they refer to Photius, a 9th century. c.e. source,
s.v. lb) ; now according to St. John Chrysostom (on Luke
xxi 2) x1 qn6't'Ll.OC; ?ix 36o
TOUTE66V Ex TWV8uo o(3oacav from which we see that he thought that
the lepton was the same as the obol; (obol = 1/s denarius). As the
Syriac maneh equals the lepton (3A = iA), it follows that a maneh
is one obol. This is indeed the opinion of PAYNE-SMITH. in his
Thesaurus Syyiacus. 3)
SF,GRT, 4) following up a statement by S. LIEBERMAN 5) to the
effect that the maneh in Rabbinic was sometimes a small coin, and
not merely a large coin equalling 100 denarii 6), independently
sought to establish this identification of the maneh and the ma'ah
(= obol). He adduced as his proof the fact that Ps. Jonathan to

1b) LIDDELL & SCOTT (9th ed.) s.v. p. 1040A (Photius, Lex., s.
) .
2) Opp. 7. 29B. (cited in PAYNE-SMITH,note 3, ibid., and STEPHANUS
Thesaurus, s.v. ).
3) PAYNE-SMITH, Thesaurus Syriacus, s.v. p. 2164. See also ibid.
s.v. p. 4212. B. Bahlul, and K. and see below.
4) Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 34 (1934-44), PP. 481-2.
6) Midrash Debarim Rabba (2nd ed. Jerusalem 1964), p. 126, note 2, and
his note in Midrash Wayyikra Rabba, ed. M. MARGULIES,part 4, (Jerusalem
1958), p. 879.
6) JASTROW,Dictionary etc. p. 797.
180

Exodus xxx 13 translates the Hebrew word as (manin),


whereas Onkelos translates it as (ma'in) which is also in
accordance with the Septuagints' o?oO[ 1). Hence maneh = ma-
'ah (= obol). But, on the other hand, as it is known that throughout
early Rabbinic (e.g. Mishnaic) literature the maneh is a large coin
(or measure), equalling as we have already stated 100 denarii,
SEGRE tried to explain the identification of this term with the
ma'ah in a manner highly ingenious, but in the final analysis
unsatisfactory.
BURKITT too felt this as a difficulty in the Peshitta Mark text
(3A) where the maneh is represented as a minute coin (minute of
the Vulgate), and he quotes A. A. Bevan as having suggested to
him an emendation of ma'in for manin for obols for
minas 2). In point of fact there is absolutely no textual basis for
such a correction, as not a single manuscript records such a reading,
attractive thought it be 3). Nor in fact would such an emendation
help matters in the least as we shall presently show.
As we have seen, the Greek text (iA) states that the widow took
"two lepta which are a quadrantes" (Cf. 2A). Now in the Roman
monetary system the smallest unit of currency was the quadrans,
(see table 3),whereas in the Palestinian systems there was a yet smaller
coin, called the pruta, two of which made a kardionts (= quadrans,
see table 4). A ma'ah, on the other hand, was equal to 16 kardionts,
and hence 2 ma' in = 32 quadrantes, not one. Thus if we equate the
shamuna of 3A with the quadrans of IA and 2A, we have according
to BEVAN'S proposed emendation that the 2 ma'in (= obols) =
i shamuna (= quadrans), a complete impossibility. Similarly
PAYNE-SMITH'S translation of manin in 3A as obol 4), (based on
Chrysost.) is equally impossible.
Further difficulties are presented by text 6A, where we read that
the widow threw into the treasury two issaria which make a
quadrantes. But a further glance at tables 3 and 4 will show how
impossible this apparently is. For both in the Roman and the

1) See also BURKITT,Ewangalion Damepharresha etc., vol. 2, p. 129, note 3,


where he pointed out this fact. But cf. B.M. Add. 27031 (f. 97A), and Ms.
Neofiti 1.
2) Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 128-9, and note 2, and p. 284.
3) See Tetra-Ewangalim Kaddisha etc., p. 280, where the only variant
noted is the spelling for See also W. CURETONin his Remains
of a vary ancient recension of the Four Gospels in Syriac. p. 78, and note on
p. XVII on Mat. v 26 (referring to 1 Sam. IX-8). 4) Above, note 3.
181

Palestinian I systems an issar or as was equal to 4 quadrantes, so


that 2 issars would equal 8 (and never I) quadrantes.
What emerges however quite clearly from a comparison of A and
is that the the both of which 1
table 4 lepton equals pruta, = 2
quadrans (or kardionts) 1). Now if we were further to identify the
shamuna of 3A with the shamin of table 5 (which equals 2 prutas),
we would have a perfectly easy meaning for 3A. The widow took
two manin (= lepta or prutas) which are equal to a shamuna (or
shamin, of table 5) and threw them into the treasury.
But if a shamuna = shamin, or in other words is a full deno-
mination, what are we to do with 3B, where the shamuna appears
as a half-denomination ? This reading is furthermore borne out by
4A, 4B, 5A and 5B. On the other hand it is only if we accept the
Greek and Vulgate readings (i and 2) that we must assume the
shamuna of 3B to be a half-denomination. Were it not for these
texts, we might argue that the sum of money given by the widow
in the Luke version of the story was twice as large as that reported
in the Mark version. The Syriac Peshitta text preserved this
variation between the versions while the Greek and Latin texts
followed by other Syriac ones (4 and 5) sought to harmonise the
versions, thus putting the identical half-denominational coin in
both Gospels.
There are, however, several basic difficulties to this argument.
If the shamuna of 3A is the shamin of table 5, then it is clearly a
full-denomination; a quadrans. If then 4A and 5, wished to har-
monise the two versions, following in this the Greek and Vulgate,
they would have had to use the term manin, the half-denomination
or quadrans of 3A, not the shamuna. It is highly unlikely that
they knew only the shamuna of 3B, and assumed it meant lepton,
and therefore put it into 4A and 4B. Furthermore it is not in the
nature of the Greek text to harmonize varying versions, (see, for
example iC and iD) 2). Yet this would be the only way to explain
the Greek and Latin texts etc. Finally it is a little unlikely that the
Peshitta Luke version (3B) preserves a tradition, wherein the widow
threw in two quadrantes. The point of the story is that she threw
in as little as possible, two of the smallest coins, the lepta or prutas.

1) This has long been known. See eg. STRACKand BILLERBECK,vol. 1,


p. 294, vol. 1, p. 294. MADDEN,Coins of the Jews (London 1877), pp. 297-304.
2) Cf. also Mat. x 29 and Luke xii 6, in BURKITT,Ewangalion Demepharresha
(p. 52 and p. 326).
182

As these coins were not known in the Roman system, the Mark
text adds an explanatory note-which are a quadrans-a coin
known in the Roman system. The Luke version which has not this
gloss, would appear then to be the earlier more reliable version (in
this case) 1), and the translators would surely have harmonized
their texts on the basis of the Luke version not the Mark one.
Finally we must ask ourselves what are the meanings of the full-
denominational terms of 4A and 5A.
The rub'a (5A) presents no difficulty. As shamuna in the same
text means one eighth, two of them would make up one fourth.
This is in fact the exact meaning of rub'a, 4. But what of the tumna
of 4A? Again the meaning of the word is clear; it means one eighth,
and if the shamuna is a pruta (on a par with lepta and minuta
which equal 2 quadrans), the tumna would surely be equal to the
shamin of table 5, which is, as we have seen, likewise 2 prutas, and
moreover means exactly the same as tumna 2). Thus the meaning
of 4A (etc.) is clearly understandable if we assume that the shamuna
is a pruta. On this assumption, furthermore, there is no contra-
diction between the two versions of the Peshitta (3A and 3B), for
according to both the poor woman gave two prutas, only in the
Mark version (3A) they are called manin, and in Luke (3B) sha-
munas. This is consistent with the Greek and Latin versions,
(i and 2). The terminology of 3B was subsequently followed (or
presupposes that the same metrological system as was known to)
4 and 5.
What emerges from the above, however, is that the shamuna
(cf. 3A) = quadrantes and also = pruta (3B etc.). Now while it is
understandable why a quadrans be called a shamuna, (as it equals
a shamin of table 5), it is not immediately clear why a pruta should
be so called. A re-examination of the Palestinian monetary system
of the time can however cast light upon this problem. For as has
already been indicated (in tables 4 and 5) there were in Palestine
two systems operating (at slightly different times, probably) 3).

1) One could, of course, argue that the Luke version is a shortened form
of the older Mark one, and this would be more in keeping with traditional
views as to the synoptic problem etc. Clearly none of these arguments are
in themselves conclusive.
2) The consonental change from (shin) to (taw) is a common one
between Hebrew and Syro-Aramaic languages. Similarly the vowel changes
from (yod, i) to (waw, u).
3) See my article in the Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. LVI, (1966) pp. 273-
183

The one (represented in table 5) was a pruta-shamin-niz (etc.)


system, while the other was a pruta-kardionts-musmis-issar (etc.)
system, (closer to the Roman quadrans-semis-as system, table 3).
Now although according to Palestinian system i (table 4), the
pruta = i/ls2 dinar (= denarius), it was in fact never reckoned
in such terms. Practically it was always reckoned as a fraction of an
issar, which in turn was thought of as a fraction of a dinar.
Thus for example in Tosefta Baba Batra 5. m 1) we read 1fihRV fiV1fiD
fi1hVh inn (the pruta of which the Sages spoke
is one eighth of the issar), or in B. Kiddushin i2A:
")0''M (the pruta of which the Sages spoke
is one eighth of an Italian issar [= as]), or again in J. Kiddushin
58D 90 : Kin nasi (and how much
is the pruta? One eighth of an Italian issar). Thus we see that the
pruta was always reckoned as a fraction of an issar, and in the case
of Palestinian system I, an eighth of an issar 2). The pruta could
then very well be called a by one using Palestinian system I.
But so could a quadrans by one using Palestinian system II,
(where a quadrans is called a shamin), and so to distinguish between
these two terms, otherwise perhaps almost identical, 4A changed
shamuna meaning quadrans to tumna, which means the same thing
but is clearly distinguishable from shamuna. Similarly 5A circum-
vented this same difficulty by using the logically derived term
rub'a, a quarter (= twice an eighth = 4 issar).
Perhaps in the Peshitta (3A and B), the terms were not distin-
guished for the following reason. The Mark text (3A) presupposes
the pruta-shamin system (called here maneh-shamuna). As in that
system there was no issar, and furthermore the pruta (= maneh)
equalled 1/6 issar ha'italki (see note 2), the shamuna could be
nothing other than shamin. Furthermore it could never be a
pruta, as this was the smallest coin in the system, while the maneh
in 3A was yet smaller. Hence the shamuna had to be a shamin. The
Luke version however (3B) was using the Palestinian I system
where 8 prutas = I issar, and thus pruta was called shamuna.
Again in this system there was no shamin and so there could be no

301, where the problem of dating these systems has been examined at con-
siderable length.
1) Ed. ZUCKERMANDEL, p. 405, line 14.
2) According to Palestinian system II, (table 5), 1 pruta = 1/6 issar
ha'italki. See sources cited in text.
184

mistaking the identity of the coin. Both maneh and shamuna


meant the smallest coin current, (in either system) and so the Greek
(and Latin etc.) translators chose lepton (and minuta) to represent
both terms. Later Syriac translations (4 and5) to distinguish the
two terms chose different words to represent the larger denomi-
nation. They probably also knew the Greek text, and therefore the
quadrans, thus they knew that the pruta was 1/s issar, and so did
not change this term. They may not have known the pruta-shamin
system (which was the earlier, hence in Mark, the earlier Gospel)
and in the one case 4A simply translated it literally, slightly
changing its form, in the other (5A) reckoning its value from the
shamuna. Thus we see that the Syriac Peshitta version (3) is
clearly independent of the Greek one, in this case preserving a very
ancient tradition, which is no longer evident in the Greek, Latin
or later Syriac versions. (It is furthermore likely that in the Aramaic
original from which the Syriac version was translated the two
terms were distinguishable, by the one being plena the other
defective, or some such other indication) i). We further
see that the Mark version was written when the pruta-shamin
system (recorded in the Talmud in the name of R. Simon b. Gamliel
I[?], flor c. 40-70 C.E.) was in use, while the Luke version was
written when the pruta-issar system (recorded in Talmudic sources
anonymously, but clearly, slightly later, see note 3 on p. 182) was
in use.
In the light of the above we may perhaps also understand the
difference between Cz and Dz (followed in the Vulgate, but not in 3
and 5, see note 2 p. 181). For the sense of the verse demands that the
correct reading be lepton, the very last (smallest coin) a man might
have, in the Palestinian monetary systems. Thus the original may
well have had meaning a pruta, (the Matthew version cf. Ci,
following the same system as did the Luke one of Di), but the
translator misunderstood it to mean a shamin (spelt in more or
less the same way) and hence put down (which was
followed in the Vulgate). (Again it may be that in the original the
same word was spelt slightly differently in each case, in one plena
in the other defective. The translator thought these differences
significant, as indeed they were in 3A and 3B, and then translated
each spelling as though it were a separate term.)

1) For alternative spellings of in Talmudic literature see A. KOHUT'S


Arukh Completum vol. 8, p. 1038, S.V. Also ibid. for the term .
185

As we have shown above the lepton of IA and IB was equal to a


pruta and not an obol. On the other hand it is quite clear that the
term lepton also means obol. This may be seen not only in the
Chrysostom text cited above, but from yet another Greek metro-
logical text which reads 1) : To 3? Xs7rr6\' 6xx?q 36xocrov,
oyao'f)xotJ"'t'v ale xai 6po?,6q xXcir1 2).
TIOCp& 't'LO'?
Similarly Eusebius 3) speaks of 6poX'oq ?E7LTOSy?o'f)xoO''t'v ro
(= Thus lepton means both obol and pruta, and there
is in this no contradiction. For in fact the true meaning of the word
Em6v is as Hultsch so admirably defined it 4) : appellatio variorum
nummorum minutorum, and similarly E:TI't'6e;
5) : adiectivum ponitur
ad significanda varia nummorum minutorum genera. Thus the
E:TI't'6vcould be any small, or more correctly, smallest, coin 6).
Thus as the smallest bronze coin in Roman currency was the
quadrans (table 3) we read 7) : To E:TI't'6't'oc't'ov Tou xaaxou V6[LLO'[LOC
xlXoum. The obol. on the other hand, (a coin
non-existent in the Roman system) was known as a lepton because
it was the smallest of silver coins. Thus we read in J. Shebuot
36D 30: - the last (smallest) of silver money
non nic
is the ma`ah (= obol). If in Roman coinage the quadrans was
considered the lepton of bronze currency, in Palestine the pruta,
half of the Roman quadrans, would likewise be so called. And so
indeed do we find numerous references in Greek metrological
literature to the E:TI't'6v as half a quadrans. Eg. 8) axoTaa-
Xe7-c-ca 36o or again 9) xo8p&vrrq To TETOCpTGV TOUcpoaeta5 Q 840
These then are in complete accord with the Greek
version 1), (1).

On the Aramaic background to the Gospels, see M. BLACK,Aramaic approach,


(Oxford 1946).
1) HULTSCH,Metrologicorum Scriptorum Reliqua (Leipzig 1864), vol. 1,
p. 305, line 20-1.
2) Here the lepton-obol is 1/20 shekel, just as is the Septuagint obol
(= Exod. xxx 13.
3) HULTSCH,ibid., p. 278, lines 13-14.
4) In his Index Graecus, ibid., vol. 2, p. 189. 5) Ibid.
6) The pruta had at times also something of this meaning, for in B.
Kiddushin 12A R. Josef says that a pruta is a meaning the smal-
lest coin current, whatever it be.
7) HULTSCH,ibid., vol. 1, p. 303, line 13.
8) Ibid., p. 305, line 1. 9) Ibid., p. 306, line 19.
10) The could mean other things as well, such as 1/7 chalcous,
(Photius, ibid., p. 330, line 13, Suidas, p. 340 line 12) ; 1/20 issar (p. 253,
line 7, p. 327, line 7, Hesychius) ; 1/7 silver issar (p. 305, line 6).
186

We are however, still left with the difficulties presented by 6.


As we have already shown according to both the Roman and
Palestine I system, the issar of 6A could never have been quadrans,
and yet at the same time it is quite clear that the word issar could
mean pruta, or be equal to 1 Jaissar. Now when we turn for Talmudic
evidence we find that there were two terminological standards
,u13 103 (Tyrian money according to the Tyrian standard) and
(country money). The "Tyrian money" was worth eight
times as much as the local country money, or rather a sum stated
in terms of Tyrian money meant eight times as much as the same
sum in terms of country money. Thus a Tyrian sela (= tetra-
drachma = 4 denarii) was worth eight times as much as a "country
sela" (= denarius or 2 zuz [= denarius]) 1). Thus a "country
issar" would be equal to 1/8 an ordinary issar, i.e. a pruta. The
Tyrian system did not include issars, and therefore the Rabbis
could not distinguish between a Tyrian and the local issar. They
therefore always spoke of the "issar ha'italki" the Italian issar 2),
(as the issar is part of the Roman system) to distinguish it from the
local issar, which equalled a pruta. However, in Rabbinic literature
there is no mention of a nna 10''K = a country issar-and it is
therefore to Greek metrological sources that we must turn to find
confirmation of our suggestion.
In fact Greek metrological sources offer numerous examples of the
use of the term assarion as a small coin. It is indeed frequently
identified with the lepton. Thus, for example in one place we read 3) :
,S XS7TT<X 1'OUTa?&vTOU,oc (cod. a) E:TI1': xXciri asspva, 8i (i,7a?ptoc
U?LOCPxE6 TO 8rwapvov, or again 4) : aaaPvov xoct ?E7LTOV gV EL66V,or yet
again 5) : ETI1': xaaouvTav 1'OCacraploc. Thus a lepton = assarion, and
as we know (above) that 2 lepta = I quadrans, it follows also that
2 assaria = i quadrans. And so indeed we find it clearly stated in

1) See B. Bechorot 50B

Cf. B. Bab Kama 56A, B. Kiddushin 12A, etc.


2) B. Kiddushin ibid., several times, and in numerous other places. It
is in fact not exactly equal to a Roman as, as can be seen from a comparison
of tables 3 and 4. I have discussed relationship between the two elsewhere.
See note 15.
3) HULTSCH,ibid., p. 143, 11. Cf. ibid., p. 142, note 2.
4) Ibid., p. 165. Cf. pp. 166, 313 line 21. Hesychius (5th cent. C.E.).
5) Ibid., p. 253, line 1. Cf. p. 302, line 15.
187

Hesychius 1) : 'A6pLOVxocl ),e7cr6v lv EL6LV, ,e;" 6 cr1'L


ev &&YLOv 1': 8i Sue E7t": de; ... Thus assarion is the
same as lepton, and two of them make a quadrans, exactly as in 6A.
We have shown that the terms lepton (IA) shamuna (2B, 3 and
4) and issar (6) are synonymous. This synonymity is to be found
not merely in Greek metrological texts, and the Syriac Gospel
versions, but throughout Syriac literature. Thus, for instance, we
read 2) : am the shamuna is a lepta-follis, or
again 3) : reim f-e M% +n> an
it is [the same]
a lumma, fulsa (= follis), lepton, ma'ah (= obol) 4) issara. The
maneh of 3A is likewise synonymous with the above terms, as we
have shown above, and as appears evident also in other branches of
Syriac literature. Thus in the Opuscula Nestoriana 5) we read:
re-3c%t:pamc%
_; *rx Mmioi ocn rdJ m*m
'rein k--,o

two shamuna are a large peshitta, these manin and the bronze
shamuna are called israra, each weighing 36 kirat which are tesuga,
and these two manin are 72 tesuga. Or again in the Bar Bahlul 6 !,

4 ic
aim h pl 1 ?in

4 ic The shamuna weighs i i gramma, a bronze


shamuna 5 obols, in codice it is also called issara and weighs 36
kirata; this is also called shamuna, mania, lam ... weighing 31

1) Ibid., p. 313, lines 21-3. There are several difficulties here, such as the
fact that the assarion is thought of as 1/60 denarius, (see note 30, ibid., vol. 2.
Index Graecus, p. 166, S.V. ) whereas according to tables 4 or 5 the
pruta is more than half or a third the size. All we wish to prove here is that
the assarion was a small coin equated with the lepton. The Roman lepton,
the quadrans, was about 1/60 denarius, (table 3). One must differentiate
between the different systems underlying these texts when discussing
them. Thus ibid., p. 271, line 3: i ',
where apparently the Roman lepton has been retranslated into assarion,
as it were.
2) PAYNE-SMITH,ibid., p. 4212, S.V. .
3) Ibid., K. (Cf. ibid., p. 1191).
4) There may have been a bronze obol equal to a lepton. This would
explain the Chrysost. text and others.
5) Ed. G. HOFFMAN,(1880), p. 149, lines 17-21, (on Mark xii 42).
6) Ed. R. DUVAL,p. 1985. Cf. ibid., S.V. .
188

kirats. Or yet again in Jacob b. Salibas' Commentaries to the


four Gospels we r,;factt:,m
one mania, that is a shamuna, is 36 tesuga.
Finally we must examine the term zuz occurring in 6B and 6C.
Normally in Aramaic and Syriac literature it means denarius or (=)
drachma 2), and Hesychius also translates it with the latter term 3).
Here however it can hardly bear such an interpretation. In 6B it
translates the Greek lepton (of iB) and in 6C the Greek kodrantes
(cf. I C) . Schulthess in his Lexicon Syro-Palestinian 4) cites it under
its Greek parallels. Thus Mat. 5. 26, Ma. 12. 15
Luc. 21.2. 6A suggests
a knowledge of the Greek version as it makes use of the term
kodrantes, which we have shown was not in the original which used
the pruta-shamin system. Thus it is likely that 6B follows iB or
that 6C follows i C, but unlikely that the word zuz should bear both
meanings 5). If 6C follows i C and zuz = quadrans, we could
explain 6B as following 3B's shamuna, thought (incorrectly) to be a
quadrans by comparison with 3A. But such a suggestion pre-
supposes a knowledge both of the Greek and the Peshitta sources
(if this "Syro-Sin" is thought to be pre-Peshitta) 6), and if this
be so it is difficult to see the logic underlying the choice of readings
from the various versions, as they are apparently not harmonistic.
It seems most likely that zuz in the context of 6B and 6C means
lepton, as the sense of both passages (especially 6C) demands the
smallest possible coin. The zuz must then have been a bronze one,
as opposed to the usual silver one. We do in fact find in the Baby-
lonian Talmud') the use of a term tiT (zuz6 peshitt6) (in 4th
century Babylon), which clearly means a small bronze coin. The
term peshitta in Syriac means lepton; thus, for example in one of
the lexica a) we read : an flp the pes-

1) PAYNE-SMITH,p. 1491, S.V. .


2) JASTROW,Dict., PAYNE-SMITHetc.
3) HULTSCHE,ibid., p. 318, line 5.
4) (Berlin, 1903), p. 54B, S.V.
6) This is not an impossible suggestion as zuz in Mt. xviii 28, xx 2 etc.
means i, whereas in Mt. xvii 24. it means ( = 2 denarii).
SCHULTHESS, ibid.
6) VBUS'thesis in works cited below notes 1 and 2 on p. 189..
7) B. Ketubot 65B, 67A. But cf. Rashi ibid. Note also the use of the term
, a white or silver zuz in B. Shabbat 66B, though in all probability
there it means a bright shining zuz.
8) Lex. Georgii Kamonsedinoyo Maronitae, PAYNE-SMITH3321.
189

hitta ... is a lumma, fulsa (follis), shamuna. Hence the term zuz
(as in zuz6 peshitt6) may also have at times meant pruta. This
would explain its use in 6B. Moreover, as the the term shamuna is
common to B and C in 3 and 5 (and to 4B and 4D), it is not sur-
prising to find zuz common to 6B and 6C. For even if these versions
are later than 6, we have shown that in the original (or at least a
pre-Greek source) the term shamuna was to be found both in Luke
21.2 and Mat. 5.26 (see above).
It remains only to point out what is in fact quite evident from
our tabulation of the versions, namely that the Harklean version (7)
follows the Greek text in every case, interpreting the Peshitta's
shamuna as a quadrans, (3A), and transliterating Xc<r6v - lepta 1).
From the above one may draw certain conclusions of a more
general nature.

(a) A comparison of 3A and 3B suggests that the Peshitta (which


Voobus declares to be a collective work) 2) had access to very
ancient source material, probably Aramaic.
(b) This same comparison seems to suggest that Luke was written
later than Mark (both probably in Aramaic).
(c) Our explanation for iC leads us to believe that Mat. is also
post-Markian.
(d) The differences in terminology between 6A and 6B are clear
evidence of what Voobus has already demonstrated, namely
that "Vetus Syra" must have contained more than two extant
representatives 3).
(e) An examination of 6 as a whole suggests the redactor's
knowledge of both a Greek and a pre-Greek source 4).
(f) 4 and 5 appear both to be post-Peshitta (or Peshitta source)
harmonistic versions.

1) See A. VBUS,Early versions of the New Testament (Stockholm 1954),


pp. 118-121.
2) A. VBUS,Studies in the History of the Gospel text in Syriac (Louvain
1951).
3) Ibid., p. 167.
4) Yet Vetus-Syra was not translated from the Greek, (cf. 1A and 6A).
VBUS,ibid., p. 169. If the zuz of 6C is not a quadrans we have further
proof of this same fact. For further discussion of the hebrew term "maneh",
see my forthcoming article in Talpiot (New York, in Hebrew), "Al Erko shel
Maneh", and Journal of Roman Studies, LVI (1966) pp. 190-5. Denarii and
Aurei in the time of Diocletian".
190 SPERBER, MARK XII 42 AND ITS METROLOGICALBACKGROUND

(g) The Harklean version is a harmonistic one based primarily


on the Greek, using in part Peshitta terminology.

As to conclusion of a more specialized numismatic nature, one


may state that:
(a) The maneh (if so vocalized) was at one period a small coin, a
pruta.
(b) The pruta-shamin system seemed to have been in use at the
time when Mark was compiled.
(c) When Luke and Mat. were compiled the pruta-issar system
was in use. Or alternatively, if there were no autonomous
Palestinian monetary system in use at this time, the pruta-
issar system was used, because it was so close to the Roman
system.
(d) Lepton, maneh, shamunah, issar are all synonymous. Also
perhaps the term zuz (?), peshitta, obols (bronze?). Lepton
however has several meanings, but always its primary con-
notation is "the smallest coin" in a system or series etc.

The further implications of our study for the genesis of Gospel texts
and versions will I hope be pointed out by scholars more know-
ledgeable in the field than myself. I also would hope that competent
linguists will continue this line of research to take into account
various other early versions, the Armenian, Georgian, Etheopic
(etc.) for example, as such studies may well cast further light on the
genealogy and relationships between these versions.