As some of you may know I have a background in numismatics (the study of coinage). I have specialized in classical and medieval coinage for over 20 years. As a result I have a special interest in references to coins in the Bible. I thought it would be interesting to compare how three popular Bible translations treat the subject. I hope that this will not only provide an insight into these translations, but that it will also illuminate the subject of money in the Bible for those not familiar with the subject. THE WIDOW'S MITE (Luke 21:2): KJV - "And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites." NIV - "He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins." ESV - "And he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins" The word for "mite" or "small copper coins" in the original Greek is "Lepton." A Lepton was a specific denomination in the Jewish monetary system. Specifically it was the smallest value coin at that time, it took 48 Leptons to buy a loaf of bread. In this case the NIV comes closest to capturing the meaning in this story. However, I am not completely happy with any of these translations. My opinion is that this is a case of over-translation in all three versions. I believe it would have been better to leave the word Lepton, perhaps with a footnote explaining that the Lepton was the smallest value coin of that time. THE TRIBUTE PENNY (Mark 12:15): KJV – “Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.” NIV – “’Why are you trying to trap me?’ he asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’” ESV – “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” The silver Denarius was the standard coin of the Roman Empire, it was one days wage for a common worker or Roman soldier. The Greek word used is “Denarion,” simply Greek for Denarius. In this case the ESV and NIV do a superb job while the KJV again over-translates the word. The reader who is unfamiliar with a Denarius does not have to search long to learn what it was. In defense of the KJV translators it should be noted that the English Penny did evolve from the Roman Denarius. The Denarius was last minted in c. AD 306, in the mid AD 700s the French introduced a silver coin called a Denier. A few years later the English, seeing the success of the French Denier in trade, introduced a similar coin that would become known as the Penny. THE FARTHING(Matthew 10:29): KJV – “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?” NIV – “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” ESV – “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” The Greek word used here is “Assarion” which refers to either the Roman As or a coin from Antioch that was equal in value to the Roman As. In either case the coin in question had no relationship whatsoever to either a Penny or a Farthing. In fact there are four cases in the New Testament where the KJV uses the word Farthing. In two of those cases the Greek word is Assarion while in the other two the Greek word is Kodrantes. The Kodrantes was the Roman Quadrans. In all four cases the KJV uses the word Farthing while the NIV and ESV use the word Penny. This is a case of mistranslation in all three versions. Neither of the two coins mentioned bears any relation to either a Farthing or a Penny. It would have been better to use the words As and Quadrans.