A guide to the coins showing it’s progression from being a persecuted religion to one of the world’s biggest faiths
This guide is intended for those that are interested in Biblical history. I explore the coins from the lifetime of Jesus Christ, one known as the Widow’s Mite, the Tribute Penny, the 30 Pieces of Silver, Pontius Pilate and much more. A Roman coin of Nero is also shown to illustrate one of the early persecutors of the Christian faith.
We then move on to the coins of the spread of Christianity through the Roman empire. A coin of Nicaea is shown, which is from the specific city that the Council of Nicaea was held which made Christianity the way it is today. Moving forward I show you an ancient coin of Constantine the Great from the time of the Council of Nicaea. We explore the topic of “By this sign you shall conquer” and what the symbol looked and how it was placed on ancient Roman coins as the Chi-Rho, also known as the Christogram or Christ monogram. A coin of Saint Helena is shown, who did a lot for the spread of Christianity and also Constantine the Great’s mother.
From this point we move on to an example of the Christian cross on a small Roman coin. After which point, we see the depiction of Jesus Christ on bronze and gold coins of the Byzantine empire.
The different types of coins explored.
You will see the various different types of ancient biblical, Roman and Byzantine medieval coins as the story of early Christianity progresses from ancient times. After each section, if there is an article that goes into more depth regarding the subject, a link is given for you to explore. Clicking on the coin pictures will take you to a page searching my eBay store for the subject of interest. The goal of this guide is to introduce more people to the fascinating topic of ancient coin collecting, and at the same time allowing to research the types that are available.
Alexander Jannaeus (Yehonatan) –
Jewish King of the Hosmonean Kingdom 103-76 B.C.E. –
Bronze ‘Prutah’ 15mm (1.62 grams) mint of Jerusalem 103-76 B.C.
Reference: Hendin 469
Anchor, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ (of King Alexander).
Star of eight rays surrounded by diadem, between the rays, (Yehonatan the King).
* Numismatic Note: This type of coin is known to bible history as the “Widow’s Mite”.
Synoptic Gospels (Mark 12:38-44, Luke 20:45-47,21:1-4) where Jesus was teaching in the Temple of Jerusalem. In the story a poor widow woman gives her last 2 mites, the least valuable coins of the time. And Jesus points out that even though she gave very little, she gave her all, where some had a lot more and gave very little in comparison to their blessings.
This guide puts together all the types of coins from ancient Jerusalem.
Click here to read the Guide to Ancient Coins of Jerusalem
Augustus – Roman Emperor: 27 B.C. – 14 A.D.
Silver Denarius 20mm (3.69 grams) Rome mint: 2 B.C. – 2 A.D.
Reference: Augustus 43; B.M.C., Imp. 519; R.I.C. 350
CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F. PATER PATRIAE, his laurel head right.
C . L . CAESARES AVGVSTI F . COS . DESIG . PRINC . IVVENT., Caius and Lucius Caesars standing facing, shields and spears between them; above, between the spears, simpulum and lituus turned inwards.
* Numismatic: A coin that could be described as the tribute penny.
- Read the Guide to the Tribute Penny coins of the bible
- See Tribute Penny coins available in my eBay store
Pontius Pilate – (chiefly known for crucifixion of Jesus) ruled 26-36 A.D.
Procurator of Judaea under Emperor Tiberius, Roman Emperor: 14-37 A.D.
Bronze Prutah 14mm (1.79 grams) Jerusalaem 30-31 A.D.
Reference: Hendin 1342.
Lituus, surrounded by TIBEPIOY KAICAPOC.
Date LIZ (= year 18 = 31 C.E.) within wreath.
* Numismatic Note: Authentic ancient biblical coin, issued by the Roman procurator whom had Jesus Christ crucified.
Nero – Roman Emperor: 54-68 A.D. –
Bronze Sestertius 34mm (24.93 grams) Rome mint: 67 A.D.
NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, Laureate head of Nero wearing aegis facing right.
Nero and soldier papanthesis on horseback right; DECVRSIO in exergue; S C across fields.
Julia Mamaea – Roman Empress wife of Emperor Severus Alexander 222-235 A.D. –
Bronze 21mm (4.60 grams) of Nicaea in Bithynia circa 222-235 A.D.
Reference: BMC 105v; SNG Cop 521v (legend. breaks), SGI 3421
IOVLIA MAMAIA AVΓ, draped bust right.
N-IK-AI-E-WN, between and beneath three legionary standards.
Constantine I ‘The Great’ – Roman Emperor: 307-337 A.D. –
Rare Heaven Gazing type
Bronze AE3 18mm (2.95 grams) Heraclea mint: 325-326 A.D.
Reference: RIC 72 (VII, Heraclea)
CONSTANTINVS AVG – Diademed head right, looking up at the heavens.
DNCONSTANTINIMAXAVG Exe: .SMHB – Wreath, VOT/XXX within.
Decentius – Roman Caesar: 351-353 A.D.
Bronze Double-Centenionalis or AE1 26mm (7.64 grams) Trier mint 352 A.D.
Reference: RIC 319
D N DECENTI VS FORT CAES, draped and cuirassed bust right,
SALVS DD NN AVG ET CAES, chi-rho flanked by the Alphan (A) and Omenga (W); TRP in exergue.
The Chi-Rho is the monogram of Jesus Christ. The A and W on the left represent the Alpha and Omega which Christ was described as in the book of Revelations.
- See all representations under keyword Chi-Rho
- See all representations of the Chi-Rho as the military standard with the keyword the labarum
- See all the representations of the Chi-Rho with the keyword Christogram
Bronze AE3 17mm (3.00 grams) Struck at the mint of Siscia circa 364-367 A.D.
Reference: RIC 5b.2 (Siscia), LRBC 1276
DN VALENS PF AVG – Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
GLORIA ROMANORVM Exe: */S/DBSIS – Valens advancing right, dragging captive and holding labarum
tipped with the Chi-Rho (MONOGRAM of CHRIST XP Superimposed).
Reference: RIC 17 (Heraclea)
AEL FLACCILLA AVG – Diademed, draped bust bust right.
SALVS REIPVBLICAE Exe: t/SMHA – Victory seated right on cuirass, holding shield on column
with Chi-Rho inside.
Bronze Follis 19mm (3.39 grams) Thessalonica mint: 318-319 A.D.
Reference: RIC VII 50; Kent-Hirmer pl. 162, 637; LRBC 821
Pedigree: Ex Gorny & Mosch
HELENA N F, draped bust right.
Eight-pointed star in laurel wreath.
Bronze AE4 13mm (1.11 grams) Cyzicus mint: 425-435 A.D.
Reference: RIC 451 (X, Theodosius II)
DNTHEODOSIVSPFAVG – Diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right.
No legend Exe: SMK – Wreath, cross within.
Anonymous Class G
Bronze Follis 26mm (7.49 grams)
Struck during the reign of Romanus IV, Diogenes –
Byzantine Emperor: 1 January 1068 A.D. – 19 August 1071 A.D.
Reference: Sear 1867
Bust of Christ facing , wearing a nimbus crown, pallium and colobium, and raising right hand in benediction; in left hand, scroll; to left, IC; to right, XC; border of large pellets.
Facing bust of the Virgin orans, nimbate and wearing pallium and maphorium; to left, MP; to right, ΘV; border of large pellets.
For more than a century, the production of Follis denomination Byzantine coins had religious Christian motifs which included included Jesus Christ, and even Virgin Mary. These coins were designed to honor Christ and recognize the subservient role of the Byzantine emperor, with many of the reverse inscriptions translating to “Jesus Christ King of Kings” and “May Jesus Christ Conquer”. The Follis denomination coins were the largest bronze denomination coins issued by the Byzantine empire, and their large size, along with the Christian motif make them a popular coin type for collectors. This series ran from the period of Byzantine emperors John I (969-976 A.D.) to Alexius I (1081-1118 A.D.). The accepted classification was originally devised by Miss Margaret Thompson with her study of these types of coins. World famous numismatic author, David R. Sear adopted this classification system for his book entitled, Byzantine Coins and Their Values. The references about this coin site Mr. Sear’s book by the number that they appear in that work. The class types of coins included Class A1, Class A2, Class B, Class C, Class D, Class E, Class F,Class G, Class H, Class I, Class J, Class K. Read more and see examples of these coins by reading the JESUS CHRIST Anonymous Class A-N Byzantine Follis Coins Reference.
JESUS CHRIST Anonymous Class A-N Byzantine Follis Coins Reference.
Constantine VII, Porphyrogenitus – Emperor: June 6, 913 – November 9, 959 A.D. –
Gold Solidus 20mm (4.37 grams) Constantinople mint, 950-955 A.D.
Reference: DOC 15. Sear 1751
+IhS XPS RЄX RЄςNANTIЧM, Facing bust of Christ Pantocrator, wearing tunic, himation and a cross nimbus with three pellets in the arms, raising right hand in benediction and holding book of Gospels in his left.
CONSTANT’ CЄ ROMAh’ AЧςς bR’, Crowned facing busts of Constantine VII, bearded and wearing loros on the left, and Romanus II, beardless and wearing chlamys on the right; both holding, between them with their right hands, a long patriarchal cross.
Michael VII, Ducas – Emperor: October 24, 1071 A.D. – March 24, 1078 A.D. –
Gold Scyphate Histamenon Nomisma 28mm (4.48 grams) Constantinople mint, circa 491-518 A.D.
Reference: Sear 1868 Provenance: NY Sale 2016, 958
Bust of Christ facing, wearing nimbus crown, pallium and colobium, and raising right hand in benediction; in left hand, book of Gospels; to left, IC; to right, XC; double border.
+ MIXAHΛ RACIΛ O Δ, Bust facing, bearded, wearing crown and loros, and holding labarum and globe cross; double border.
John III Ducas-Vatatzes – Emperor of Empire of Nicaea: 15 December 1222 – 3 November 1254 A.D.
Gold Hyperpyron 29mm (4.27 grams) Magnesia mint, struck 1232-1254 A.D.
Reference: Sear 2073
Christ Pantokrator seated facing on throne, IC – XC in fields above.
John standing facing, holding labarum and akakia, being crowned by the Virgin Mary standing slightly left.
Get It Here: Ancient Coins of CHRISTIANITY from Biblical Jerusalem to Roman to Byzantine Times
An interesting article about world coins. An ancient coin expert published this for educational purposes.