Original Research - Special Collection: Foundation subjects - Old and New Testament Studies

The Things of Caesar: Mark-ing the Plural (Mk 12:13–17)

Warren Carter
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2656 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2656 | © 2014 Warren Carter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 March 2014 | Published: 02 September 2014

About the author(s)

Warren Carter, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, United States of America; Department of New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article observes the rarely-discussed phenomenon that the Marcan paying-the-tax scene refers to tax in the singular, whilst the concluding saying uses the plural ‘the things of Caesar and of God’. The article accounts for this phenomenon by means of developing traditions. The section under the heading ‘Mark’s scene and saying about taxes (12:13–17)’ counters the common claim that scene and saying originated as a unit from the historical Jesus. It proposes that whilst the saying may have originated with Jesus, the scene as we have it did not. The section under the heading ‘Social memory, orality, and a multi-referential saying?’ suggests some contexts that the saying about the things of Caesar addressed pre-Mark. And under the section ‘Trauma and Mark’s scene’ it is argued that Mark created a unit comprising scene and saying to negotiate the ‘ trauma’ of the 66–70 war. The unit evaluates freshly-asserted Roman power as idolatrous and blasphemous whilst simultaneously authorising the continued involvement of Jesus-believers in imperial society.


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Crossref Citations

1. ‘Render to Caesar the Things of Caesar and to God the Things of God’: Recent Perspectives on a Puzzling Command (1945–Present)
Simeon R. Burke
Currents in Biblical Research  vol: 16  issue: 2  first page: 157  year: 2018  
doi: 10.1177/1476993X17742292