In the parable read in the Mark Degree a penny is the amount given to each of the laborers in the vineyard for his day's labor. Hence, in the Masonic instructions, a penny a day is said to be the if wages of a Mark Master. In several passages of the authorized version of the New Testament, penny occurs as a translation of the Greek word , op which was intended as the equivalent of the Roman denarius. This was the chief silver coin of the Romans from the beginning of the coinage of the city to the early part of the third century. Indeed, the name continued to be employed in the coinage of the Continental States, which imitated that of the Byzantine Empire, and was adopted by the Anglo Saxons.
The specific value of each of so many coins going under the same name, cannot be ascertained with any precision. In its Masonic use, the penny is simply a symbol of the reward of faithful labor. The smallness of the sum, whatever may have been its exact value, to our modern impressions is apt to give a false idea of the liberality of the owner. Doctor Light foot, in his essay on a Fresh Revision of the New Testament, remarks: "It is unnecessary to ask what impression the mention of this sum will leave on the minds of an uneducated peasant or shopkeeper of the present day. Even at the time when our version was made, and when wages were lower, it must have seemed wholly inadequate."
However improper the translation is, it can have no importance in the Masonic application of the parable, where the penny is, as has already been said, only a symbol, meaning any reward or compensation (see Wayes).
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