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The Other Side of the Coin
After the Romans destroyed
the Temple and burned Jerusalem that effectively ended
the First Jewish Revolt in 70
C.E., they issued the famous
“Judea Capta” coins to celebrate their victory.*
“Judea Capta” coins were
*See Robert Deutsch, “Roman Coins
Boast ‘Judaea Capta,’” BAR, January/
February 2010.
issued in gold, silver and
bronze—in huge numbers, far
more than other Capta coins,
such as Aegypto Capta, Germania Capta and Dacia Capta.**
The Romans were obviously
very proud of their victory.
The Romans also issued
a number of coins inscribed
**See Yaakov Meshorer, “The Holy Land
in Coins,” BAR, March 1978.
ROLF RENDTORFF (1925–2014)
Rolf Rendtorff, emeritus professor of
Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg, passed away on April 1, 2014.
Rendtorff studied under Gerhard von
Rad—one of the first to apply form criticism to the Pentateuch—at the University
of Heidelberg in the 1950s. Rendtorff
would go on to refine his own theories
about the composition of the Pentateuch. Rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis,* he championed an approach that took into
account the history of traditions in the Bible and looked at the
“the Biblical text itself in its given form.” 1 A distinguished scholar,
he elaborated on his views about the Hebrew Bible and ChristianJewish understanding in Bible Review.**
Rendtorff was rector of the University of Heidelberg from
1970 to 1972. In 1965, he founded the German-Israeli Society,
and in 2002, he was awarded the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal,
an annual prize given for contributions to Christian-Jewish
understanding. His works include The Problem of the Process
of Transmission in the Pentateuch (1977), The Covenant Formula: An Exegetical and Theological Investigation (1998) and
The Canonical Hebrew Bible (2005).
1 Rolf
Rendtorff, “What Happened to the ‘Yahwist’?: Reflections after
Thirty Years,” SBL Forum (blog), June 2006 (
*See Joseph Blenkinsopp, “The Documentary Hypothesis in Trouble,” Bible Review,
Winter 1985.
**See Rolf Rendtorff, “Jews and Christians,” Bible Review, February 2003; Rolf Rendtorff, “What We Miss,” Bible Review, February 1998; Rolf Rendtorff, “Must ‘Biblical
Theology’ Be Christian Theology?” Bible Review, June 1988.
“Devicta” (defeated), as in
“Armenia Devicta.” But these
are rarer. Only a relatively few
“Judea Devicta” coins have
been recovered.
A third variant is the
“Recepta” (received) coin, a
somewhat gentler characterization of a Roman triumph.
But this variant has never
been found in connection
with Judea—until now! Its
first appearance is reported
in a recent issue of Hebrew
University’s Israel Numismatic
Research by Gil Gambash of
the University of Haifa, Haim
Gitler of the Israel Museum
and Hannah M. Cotton of
Hebrew University.1
The newly recovered “Judea
Recepta” coin is an aureus,
that is, a gold specimen. On
the obverse is a portrait of the
emperor Vespasian. On the
reverse with the legend stand
a woman and a palm tree
representing Judea. The palm
tree has no fruit. The standing
woman has crossed legs and
bent arms with her head resting on her right hand.
“Recepta” has a different
connotation from “Capta,” the
authors point out. “Recepta”
implies “a return to the
embrace of the empire.”
“Capta” (captured) implies a
conquest by force of new territory.” Since Judea was a part
of the Roman Empire, why are
Capta coins so common, while
only a single “Judea Recepta”
coin is known?
The “Judea Recepta” coin
presents Judea as “a former
province that had temporarily
been lost to the empire and
was now reintegrated into the
provincial system,” according
to the report on the new coin.
The “Judea Recepta” coin,
the authors say, represents an
early stage of Roman reaction
to Judea’s defeat. However,
“recepta” failed to reflect the
toll the Jewish revolt had
taken on Rome. Perhaps the
“recepta” coin was minted at
commander Titus’s direction
immediately after the collapse
of the revolt. He may well
have been soon overruled by
the emperor Vespasian back
in Rome. But this, the authors
admit, is only their tentative
To return to the more mundane, the aureus sold at auction for 155,000 Swiss francs
(approximately $175,000) and
is now in the collection of
David and Jemima Jeselsohn
of Zurich, well-known collectors and major supporters of
archaeology in Israel.
1 Gil
Gambash, Haim Gitler and
Hannah M. Cotton, “Iudaea
Recepta,” Israel Numismatic
Research 8 (2013), pp. 89–104.
J U LY / A U G U S T 2 0 1 4