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"She took my life away, like my very own life," Allison said of the officer. "She has to face whatever the law says. The very Bible says to render to Caeser that which is Caeser so if Ceaser says to pay a penalty for a life, then she has to pay."

I don't quite understand the part in bold above. I looks it relates to the religion. On the other hand, the structure looks odd as well. I'm not sure how to parse the sentence correctly.

Can someone help to explain it?

The full source.

2 Answers 2

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I don't believe the speaker is a native English speaker. Or, she's speaking non-standard English. In any case, it looks like a mistake. I believe the the 's is missing and the so is a conjunction. Also, the punctuation could be improved:

The very Bible says to render to Caeser that which is Caeser['s. So] if Ceaser says to pay a penalty for a life, then she has to pay.

This is a variation of the following (Wikipedia):

"Render unto Caesar" is the beginning of a phrase attributed to Jesus in the synoptic gospels, which reads in full, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).[Matthew 22:21]

This phrase has become a widely quoted summary of the relationship between Christianity, secular government, and society. The original message, coming in response to a question of whether it was lawful for Jews to pay taxes to Caesar, gives rise to multiple possible interpretations about the circumstances under which it is desirable for the Christian to submit to earthly authority.

In short, Caesar is used as metaphor for the government. If the government (or the law) says to pay a penalty for [taking] a life, then she must pay that penalty.

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  • Should it be Caeser or Caesar?
    – dan
    Sep 10, 2018 at 2:47
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    "Caesar" (with the second "a") is more common. I'm assuming "Caeser" is an acceptable variation.
    – Em.
    Sep 10, 2018 at 2:57
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    Caeser is a valid spelling of a person’s name, but not an appropriate variation of the Caesar the ruler referred to in the passage. You might see ladies named Isabelle or Isabel but only one of those spellings is correct when referring to a specific lady.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 10, 2018 at 19:49
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The distraught mother was referring to Mark 12:17 in the Christian Bible:

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.

The mother isn't making a lot of sense because she's really upset that her son was shot and killed by a police officer (who is also female). The officer is on leave while the incident is being investigated, and the family is frustrated that she (the officer) hasn't been placed under arrest. They think she should suffer the consequences for what she's done.

"Caesar" in this case means "the secular government", so I think the idea is that what the officer did is undeniably wrong from a moral perspective, and she should also have to pay the legal price for what she did.

The main idea of this passage is that you owe the secular government their due for secular things - taxes, for example - and spiritual things you owe to God - obeying the commandments, for example.

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  • Should it be Caeser or Caesar?
    – dan
    Sep 10, 2018 at 2:43

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