Professor Robert O’Driscoll
With usury has no man a good house
made of stone, no paradise on his church wall
with usury the stone cutter is kept from his stone
the weaver is kept from his loom by usura
Wool does not come into market
the peasant does not eat his own grain
the girl’s needle goes blunt in her hand
The looms are hushed one after another
ten thousand after ten thousand
Duccio was not by usura
Nor was ‘Calunnia’ painted.
Neither Ambrogio Praedis nor Angelico
had their skill by usura
Nor St. Trophime its cloisters;
Not St Hilaire its proportion.
Usury rusts the man and his chisel
It destroys the craftsman, destroying craft;
Azure is caught with cancer. Emerald comes to no Memling
Usury kills the child in the womb
And breaks short the young man’s courting
Usury brings age into youth; it lies between the bride
and the bridegroom
Usury is against Nature’s increase.
Whores for Eleusis;
Under usury no stone is cut smooth
Peasant has no gain from his sheep herd.
(Ezra Pound, from Canto LI)
Usury has been a major ethical issue throughout church history. For centuries, the church opposed the practice of charging interest of any sort on loans. During the 1300’s, the stance of the church shifted as capitalism and free trade became more prevalent. Usury, as a major ethical issue for the Reformers, was approached differently by Luther and Calvin. While there is currently widespread popular acceptance of the practice of charging reasonable interest on loans, the rise of global justice movements, such as the secular “Make Poverty History” campaign and the evangelical “Micah Challenge”, have highlighted the practice of charging interest on loans to Third World countries. How should a Christian view the practice of charging interest on loans? Is there a difference between interest and usury? What ethical implications do the relative financial situations between the lender and the borrower – at either an individual or national level – have?
The Old Testament provides several clear references to the practice of usury. All of them have a negative tone. They must be examined, also, in light of their culture of the Ancient Near East. The OT laws appear to be assumed by and affirmed in the NT.
In the Ancient Near East, loans for both reasonable interest and oppressive enrichment were practiced. The Old Babylonian Period Law Code – the Eshnunna Laws – set the limits on interest rates to 20% for money and 33.33% for grain in about 1700BC. Such limits were typical throughout ANE history, although actual interest rates could be lower. The Hammurabi Law Code provided for the cancelling of interest payments in the case of natural disaster. The Canaanite territory which Israel occupied followed these common commercial practices, although the profession of money-lender should not be equated to our modern commercial practices. Rather, it was the wealthy person who was in a position to lend money and did so in a commercial way that the Hebrew writings prohibit.
Three major OT texts have informed Christians’ views on usury are Ex. 22:25-27; Lev. 25:35-38; and Deut 23:19-20. “The laws which deal with interest belong to several law collections of the Pentateuch illustrating different historical, economic and social standards showing an epoch of inner and outer history of Israel.”
Exodus 22:24-26 appears in the Covenant Code and regulates money loans to fellow Israelites who are poor. It states that interest is not to be charged and that their cloak – that is, their shelter during the night – is not to be kept as security overnight. The Hebrew word translated “interest” is נֶ֫שֶׁךְ, literally means “bitten off” and occurs in Lev 25:36; Deut 23:19; Ezek 18:8, 13, 18; Ps. 15:5 and Prov. 28:8. Some scholars have argued, based on its etymology, that נֶ֫שֶׁךְ means interest deducted (or ‘bitten off’) by the creditor in advance, however Loewenstamm convincingly argues that it simply refers to the interest on monetary loans, whereas the alternate Hebrew term, תַּרְבִּית refers to loans on victuals. In the later Hebrew of Deut 23:20, נֶ֫שֶׁךְ becomes the broader term denoting interest of any kind. Each of the three major texts provides a different motivation for obedience. In Exodus 22, the motivation provided by this Rule is that their compassionate Lord hears the cry of the poor – with the implication that he will act to secure justice for them – and that the Israelites should mimic his concern.
Leviticus 25:35-38 appears in the Holiness Code and precludes the charging of interest on a money loan or selling food at a profit to fellow Israelites who are poor. This verse demonstrates the use of both words that Loewenstamm defines. It requires that interest free loans be made available to the needy. The motivation provided by this Rule is a desire to keep the community together, and discourage such economic migration as might be described, for example, in the early chapters of the book of Ruth. It is grounded in God’s redemption of his people from the Egypt and his provision of Canaan for them.
Deuteronomy 23:19-20 seems to dramatically broaden the prohibition on interest to include anyone who is “your brother”, in contrast with a “foreigner”. The term “foreigner” (נָכְרִי) stands in contrast with a fellow Israelite. It originally meant “enemy” and was a term of disgrace which could also be attributed to an adulterous woman (Prov. 2:16), but this cannot be used to justify carte blanche abuses of foreigners. Leviticus 25:25-27, discussed above, compare the compassionate treatment of poor Israelites with the standard of hospitality displayed towards sojourning foreigners. The term “foreigner” is used broadly to include a foreigner dwelling in the land, such as a Canaanite, a foreigner travelling through the land engaged in commerce for profit, such as a trader, and a foreigner who may have arrived as a refugee. When engaging in mutually profitable business with a foreigner, loans for interest appear to be permissible.
Whereas Deuteronomy 23 might appear to prohibit loans for interest to any Israelite, Christensen argues that the context proves we are “mainly dealing with humanitarian issues here.” The loan, in this case as with the earlier prohibitions, is charity to a brother in need. As Tigay says, “There is no evidence that there was a money market of any significance, or that solvent Israelites commonly borrowed for commercial or other purposes,” although there is some evidence that not all who borrowed were destitute. For example, Deuteronomy 24:10-13 prescribes how to receive a pledged item, but it also imposes an extra condition if the neighbor is poor.
In summary, these three Rules provide a clear prohibition of loans for interest to poor fellow Israelites. This was markedly counter-cultural in light of the practices of the surrounding nations, where loans for interest were common. However, the prohibitions do not seem to speak directly to commercial trading. The socioeconomic culture in ancient Israel, primarily agriculturally based, was also significantly different from contemporary capitalist economies. Therefore, careful hermeneutical work needs to be done to apply these Rules to the present setting.
The NT text that has contributed significantly to Christian’s understanding of the issue of usury is Jesus own words in Luke 6:34-35, where he commands,
“And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners’, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (NIV)”
Hays argues that love is not an adequate summarizing ethical theme of the NT, and Horsley states that,
“The command of loving enemies remains general, abstract, and susceptible of a variety of interpretations so long as the meaning of “enemies” remains imprecise.”
He then goes on to argue that the “enemies” are not distant, national enemies, but fellow Jews in the rural villages who are being oppressed by wealthy landowners, and that Jesus’ command is to “take responsibility for helping each other willingly, even your enemies, in the local village community.” Even though, then, Jesus’ command is not addressed to the wealthy but the poor, Horsley suggests that an appropriate application of this Rule may be made through analogy:
“The analogy to doing good, lending (without interest!), and sharing what little one has with those who have nothing in a simple agrarian community could be sought in the more sophisticated and complex social-economic response to the needy in the complicated modern international capitalist economy where the investment of one’s retirement funds or the availability of bananas and coffee for one’s breakfast have an indirect but decisive effect upon the poverty of the campesinos who picked the bananas or coffee beans.”
While the richest vein of Scripture teaching can be characterized as Rules, there are also many valid examples of Principles, Paradigms and Symbolic Worlds. Psalm 15:5 describes the actions of a righteous person, namely that they “lend money to the poor without interest.” Similarly, Proverbs 28:8 says that “whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.” Finally, Ezekiel 18 teaches that the one who sins will die, but the righteous man is the one who does not hold onto the security for the loan to a poor person, who charges no interest and makes no profit from them. In conclusion, these principles all seem to apply to the same situation described by the rules, economic dealings with the poor and desperate.
Three of Jesus’ parables directly illustrate the issues associated with usury. In Luke 16:1-15, the ambiguous parable of the shrewd manager, in light of impending judgment the commended character reduces the amount of debt outstanding in order to gain future favor. Luke 19:11-27 records the parable of the ten minas as Jesus passes from Jericho to Jerusalem. The master clearly represents God and his return is best identified with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The relevant point from this story is that the master expected a righteous servant would, at the very least, deposit his money with the bankers so that it could earn interest.
Luke 20:9-19 is the parable of the tenants. While it does not address the issue of usury directly, it touches upon a closely related topic of return on investment. This issue is raised later in church history, especially by Aquinas.
Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant, in Matthew 18:21-35, demonstrates the character of the Kingdom of God. The great thrust of the message of the gospel is that we had accrued a debt to God which we could never repay. God extended forgiveness to us, by grace through faith in Christ’s substitutionary atonement, which then obligates us to extend forgiveness to those who have offended us.
Community, Cross and New Creation
God’s people now form a countercultural community of discipleship. We are no longer subject to the utilitarian and pragmatic instincts motivated by self-preservation. We are agents of reconciliation whose purpose is to prepare a people for God’s own eternal glory. The needs of the community overrule our personal ambitions for economic prosperity.
Following Christ’s example of faithfulness to God through his death on the cross, we find ourselves obligated to extend charity to those in need, even if it costs us financially. In light of the impending judgment, we are also to use our material wealth to secure our welcome in the new creation.
It was the universal opinion of the Christian Church for the first fifteen hundred years that all interest exacted upon loans of money was to be looked upon as usury. It was viewed as a form of theft and dishonesty. As Philip Schaff wrote,
“Although the conditions of the mercantile community in the East and the West differed materially in some respects, the fathers of the two churches are equally explicit and systematic in their condemnation of the practice of usury. Among those belonging to the Greek Church we find Athanasius (Expos. in Ps. xiv); Basil the Great (Hom. in Ps. xiv); Gregory of Nazianzum (Orat. xiv. in Patrem tacentem); Gregory of Nyssa (Orat. cont. Usurarios); Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. iv. c. 37); Epiphanius (adv. Hæres. Epilog. c. 24); Chrysostom (Hom. xli. in Genes); and Theodoret (Interpr. in Ps. xiv. 5, and liv. 11). Among those belonging to the Latin Church, Hilary of Poitiers (in Ps. xiv); Ambrose (de Tobia liber unus). Jerome (in Ezech. vi. 18); Augustine de Baptismo contr. Donatistas, iv. 19); Leo the Great (Epist. iii. 4), and Cassiodorus (in Ps. xiv. 10).”
Ambrose had a major influence over the thinking of subsequent writers. He argued that the Deuteronomy passage prohibited “exacting usury from your brother.” A brother was “your sharer in nature, co-heir in grace, every people, which first, is in the Faith, then under Roman Law.” The strangers were those foes – the Canaanites, etc. – who had unjustly withheld the Promised Land from Israel and from whom usury could be exacted as a kind of reparation. This led to teaching, in Christendom, that is was prohibited for Christians to charge usury between themselves. This led to the situation, in the Middle Ages, where the Jewish communities dwelling in Europe were often the only legitimate source of loans for the Christians communities.
Thomas Aquinas was influenced by Aristotle’s view of money as a “sterile thing,” that is, that money simply represented real items and had no ability to reproduce on its own. Basing his argument in Natural Law, he wrote, “To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice.” Additionally,
“Aquinas’ innovative attack against usury lies in his argument about the consumptibiliiy of money. This thesis has three key movements: first, that money is a token of value that is intended to act as a measure of exchange to facilitate the trade of goods; second, that money is “sunk in exchange” or is consumed in the act of exchange; and third, that the use of money cannot be separated from its substance.”
As international trade began to grow, the pressure to generate resources to fund these developments also grew. “Popes Martin V and Calixtus III handed down qualified authorizations of redeemable real and personal rent contracts.” Johann Eck, Luther’s notorious adversary, actively defended Pope Leo X’s endorsement of the five per cent triple contract.
Martin Luther was the first Reformer to write in the context of rising capitalism. His attitudes to usury were influenced by the political situation he found himself in and can be broadly identified in three periods. Firstly, prior to Spring 1523 he wrote Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation (1519) and two sermons (1519-20) which spoke out against the usurious extortions of the Roman Church. Secondly, from the summer of 1523 to the end of the Peasant Revolts in the winter of 1525, he sought to dampen the enthusiasm for reform among the masses, as often expressed by the Anabaptists and other radical preachers like Jakob Strauss. Rather than reject the literal authority of the Mosaic Laws, as the radicals did, or endorse them fully, he struggled to establish a middle-of-the-road policy. His primary focus was to reconcile the warring factions. Thirdly, after a lengthy hiatus, in 1539 he again denounced usury.
It was left to Calvin to respond theologically to the new economic realities. His rejection of Aristotelian and patristic approaches to usury proved to be a turning point for European thought and economic life. His approach to the Mosaic Law was to limit its application to dealings with the poor. For example, while expounding the eighth commandment, “you shall not steal” with reference to Leviticus 25:35-38 and Deuteronomy 23:19-20 he wrote,
“From these passages we learn that it is not enough to refrain from taking the goods of another, unless we also constantly exercise humanity and mercy in the relief of the poor… Wherefore, that we may not defraud our neighbors, and so be accounted thieves in God’s sight, let us learn, according to our several means, to be kind to those who need our help; for liberality is a part of righteousness, so that he must be deservedly held to be unrighteous who does not relieve the necessities of his brethren when he can… We should drink waters out of our own cistern… for, after he has enjoined us each to be contented with what is our own, without seeking to enrich ourselves by the loss of others, he adds that those who have abundance do not enjoy their possessions as they ought, unless they communicate them to the poor for the relief of their poverty.”
Calvin maintained this approach in his exposition of Exodus 22:25, Ezekiel 8 and Psalm 15. His primary text relating to this subject, however, was De Usuris (1579), where he rejected the idea of the “sterility of money” as childish, and that the proper principle was that of mutual benefit.
“Calvin’s innovation in usury theory however is clearly visible not only in his exegesis of the key texts but also in his announcement that the rule of mutual reciprocity or benefit should be the litmus test for any ethical judgment of usury. In De Usuris, Calvin ends his discussion of the biblical evidence and the traditional arguments by stating: ‘I now conclude that one must not judge usuries according to some certain and particular pronouncement of God but only according to the rule of equity.’”
Since Calvin’s time, Reformed theologians have adopted his stance toward the interpretation of the OT texts. The change of attitude by the Protestant church allowed for the rapid expansion of Western economies. This influenced a change of position by the Roman Catholic Church about a century later.
“Today the whole Christian West, Protestant and Catholic alike, stake their salvation upon the truth of Calvin’s distinction! Among Roman Catholics the new doctrine began to be defended about the beginning of the eighteenth century, the work of Scipio Maffei, Dell’ impiego dell danaro, written on the laxer side, having attracted a widespread attention.”
Max Webber’s famous book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” argued that ascetic Protestantism, as exemplified by the Calvin’s theological progeny, was one of the “elective affinities” to which can be ascribed the rise of capitalism, bureaucracy and the legal-nation state. Demonstrating the dramatic change of attitude towards money, and interest, he quotes from the writings of Benjamin Franklin,
“Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides. Remember, that credit is money. If a man lets his money lie in my hands after it is due, he gives me the interest, or so much as I can make of it during that time. This amounts to a considerable sum where a man has good and large credit, and makes good use of it. Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.”
As mentions above, the thought of Aristotle, especially in Nicomachean Ethics and The Politics proved influential on later developments. His guiding principle was “It is proportional requital that holds the state together.” Money, then, is simply the medium of the exchange of products and such reciprocity requires justice in exchange. Then, currency simple represents other things, “whereas interest represents an increase in the currency itself. Hence its name, for each animal produces of its like, and interest is currency born of currency. And so of all types of business this is the most contrary to nature.”
In his famous essay “Famine, Affluence and Morality” Singer argues that we have a moral obligation to intervene on behalf of those who are suffering and dying through lack of food, shelter or medical care when our intervention does not cost us anything of moral equivalence. Such intervention must include supplying the means to acquire basic necessities. Does the provision of a for-interest loan meet that moral obligation? Although Singer does not address this question explicitly, extrapolating his argument concerning the long-term effectiveness of famine relief versus population control would imply that the charging of interest on loans to people who are using the money to purchase the necessities of life – rather than investing in economically productive assets – is morally evil, and that even expecting that loan principal to be repaid in the future, rather than offering straight charity, is ethically dubious.
Milton Friedman provides a rational defence of the modern concept of money. He describes the historical approach to currency as frequently being a commodity standard, such as gold. “The fundamental defect of a commodity standard, from the point of view of a society as a whole, is that it requires the use of real resources to add to the stock of money.” Such commodity standards quickly become impractical and “fiduciary money” – a contract to pay standard money – is usually introduced. This leads Friedman to reflect on the legitimacy of government regulation, and involvement, and the subsequent establishment of monetary policy. Monetary policy is where the government seeks to regulate the supply of money within the economy. In a modern capitalist economy, where the existence of physical notes and coins represents only a small fraction of the total money supply in the system, interest rates, as regulated by the central bank, become monetary policy’s primary instrument.
Paul Samuelson was the third person to receive the Nobel Prize for Economics and wrote a highly influential textbook, Economics.
“Economic policies or instruments for Samuelson… are to be judged simply by their contributions to the goal of increasing goods and services available for consumptive use… If John Calvin strongly disagreed, believing that people should work not for the pleasure of the consumption (which might in fact endanger their eternal souls) but primarily for the discipling of their unruly natures through the very act of labor, so much for Calvin’s belief system.”
Samuelson provides a secular, utilitarian argument that “charging interest performs an essential function in allocating capital efficiently in real-world economic systems, and must be incorporated into the workings of any modern economy committed to further rapid growth and development.”
While the perception that economic development was stifled for centuries as a result of the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to usury, the negative effect of freely available debt within our consumerist capitalist economies has also been widely noted. Popular political campaign slogans – from national to local governments – have focused on “balancing the budget”. Personal finance advisors, such as Dave Ramsey, preach the evil of debt. Mostly, the arguments provided are utilitarian, rather than virtuous or from Natural Law.
Joel Kaminsky’s writes,
“A growing number of recent thinkers have begun to question the success of the modern attempt to construct an individualistic society and have started to re-appropriate older corporate ideas and called for a return to a more communitarian view of life. The focus of these critiques is the contention that the failure to produce a modern rational approach to ethical issues is a sign that the modern stress upon the individual has severe limitations. Scholars such as Alasdair MacIntyre have argued quite convincingly that this fundamental shift of focus towards the rights of the individual that occurred during the Enlightenment is the direct cause of the current crisis in moral theory. In particular, he demonstrates that the many specific terms and ideas utilized by modern philosophers to construct an individualistic moral system have been removed from the larger communal contexts within which they originally functioned. Focusing upon the notion of virtue, he notes that this term has become meaningless because it has been detached from the larger philosophic tradition that helped define it. Once this has occurred, it becomes impossible to mediate between the various competing moral claims made by different groups of people. Furthermore, the problem is exacerbated by our failure to acknowledge that these moral differences cannot be resolved within the current framework.”
Such a description applies to the secular, economists’ discussion about the ethical obligations for charging interest to those who are poor or desperate. Concerning the issue of Third World debt, Vikram Nehru of the World Bank writes,
“Many of the poorest countries of the world today are shackled by the debts they accumulated nearly three decades ago. The oil price shock and global slowdown in the late 1970s and early 1980s cut economic growth rates in the developing countries, many of them having borrowed heavily in expectation of a lasting commodity price boom.
Through the 1980s and early 1990s, lending continued to fund policy reforms in the hope that these countries could grow their way out of trouble. But, for a number of reasons, including policy decisions of the governments involved, the expectations of increased growth failed to materialize. By the mid-1990s, 42 nations, identified as the world’s most severely indebted low-income countries, faced a massive crisis.”
The experience than Nehru is describing is that lending money, at interest, to these low-income countries has not resulted in economic growth but has instead burdened them with repayments that threaten their ability to govern their people well in the present and into the future. While wealthy developed nations experience higher standards of living than at any previous point in human history, the economic systems that are generating growth in those countries are failing to do so in these impoverished ones.
The primary OT texts that prohibit usury refer to the practice of taking economic advantage of the poor and desperate. The whole of Scripture directs God’s people to act with compassion towards those who are in need and not to seek their own comfort at the expense of others. There are pictures of interest legitimately being earned when money is invested. The tradition, especially of Ambrose, interpreted Scripture in the context of ancient, largely agrarian, economies to ban all forms of interest being charged on loans until Calvin re-examined it in light of the new economic realities of international trade and nascent industrialization. Calvin’s approach, restrained by theological realities, was cut free with the rise of secular humanism so that leading economists such as Samuelson and Friedman cannot be constrained, even by the penetrating logic of fellow atheist Peter Singer.
The Christian response must be no more than a restrained engagement in the capitalist enterprise. The tools of capitalism, including interest-bearing loans, may be used for mutual advantage. But individuals and nations are required to sacrifice any financial benefit when assisting the poor and desperate. Therefore, charity is to be the first priority when assisting the poor. Interest-free loans may be a legitimate option. Loans at interest to people who will use the money to acquire the necessities of life are morally evil.
Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. electronic ed. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000.
Buch, Joshua, “Neshekhasd Tarbit: Usury from Bible to Modern Finance.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 33 No 1 (2005) 13-22
Christensen, Duane L., Deuteronomy 21:10-34:12 WBC6b, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN (2001)
Friedman, Milton, Capitalism and Freedom University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill (1962)
Griffiths, Brian, The Creation of Wealth: A Christian’s Case for Capitalism IVP, Downers Grove, Ill (1984)
Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Cross, Community, New Creation: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics Harper Collins, New York, NY (1996).
Hirmer, Oswald, Marx, Money and Christ Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe (1982)
Horsely, Richard A. “Ethics and Exegesis: “Love Your Enemies” and the Doctrine of Non-Violence” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 54 No 1 (1986) 3-31
Kaminsky, Joel S. Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK (1995)
Loewenstamm, Samuel E., “נֶ֫שֶׁךְ and תַּרְבִּית” JBL 88 No 1 (1969) 78-80
Maloney, Robert P., “Usury and Restrictions on Interest Taking in the Ancient Near East” CBQ 36 (1974) 1-20
Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary : Old Testament. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
Nelson, Benjamin N., The Idea of Usury The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill (1969)
Nelson, Robert H., Economics as Religion: from Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA (2001)
Neufeld, Edward, “The Prohibitions Against Loans at Interest in Ancient Hebrew Laws” Hebrew Union College Annual, 26 1955, p 355-412
Rae, Scott B. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI (2009)
Stamp, Josiah, Christianity and Economics MacMillan Company, New York, NY (1938)
Tigay, Jeffrey H., Deuteronomy: The Traditional Jewish Text with the New JPS Translation. The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia PA (1996)
Varso, Miroslav, “Interest (Usury) and Its Variations in the Biblical Law Codices” Communio Viatorum 50 no 3 (2008), 323-338
Webber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Scribner New York, NY (1958)
Wright, NT Jesus and the Victory of God SPCK, London, UK (1996)
Wykes, Michael, “Devaluing the Scholastics: Calvin’s Ethics of Usury” CTJ 38 (2003) 27-51
Religion, Economics and Social Thought: Proceedings from an International Symposium
 Quoted at: http://demystification-clouseau.blogspot.com/2008/02/59-67.html Accessed 17th May 2010
 Miroslav Varso, “Interest (Usury) and Its Variations in the Biblical Law Codices” 324-5
 “Numerous contracts confirm that loans at interest were permitted with restrictions, throughout the ancient Near East, outside Israel. In the Old-Babylonian Period the legal maximum was 20% for money and 33%% for grain. It is clear that the temples were among the most common creditors. Some temples, at least in Babylon, took steps to help alleviate the burden that loans at interest imposed on the poor. In Assyria the normal rate of interest under the empire was 25% for money and as high as 50% for grain. During Neo-Babylonian times and later under the Persian Empire the legal rate on both silver and grain was generally 20%. In Egypt we find some indirect confirmation of Bocchoris’ law, limiting accumulation of interest. The legal maximum there under the Ptolemies was 24% a year. There are abundant examples of loans with and without interest from every period, and, needless to say, abundant examples of exorbitant interest-taking.” Robert P. Maloney, p.20
 IVP Bible Background Commentary, Exodus 22:25
 Edward Neufeld “The Prohibitions Against Loans at Interest in Ancient Hebrew Laws” 356
 Neufeld 357
 BDB p.675
 Samuel E. Loewenstamm “נֶ֫שֶׁךְ and תַּרְבִּית” 79
 Neufeld 358
 Duane L. Christensen, Deuteronomy 21:10-34:12, 556.
 Jeffrey H. Tigay, Deuteronomy: The Traditional Jewish Text with the New JPS Translation, 217.
 Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament p.201-3 includes a reference to Luke 6.
 Richard A. Horsley, Ethics and Economics 11
 Horsley 23. This corresponds to the situation described in Craig Blomberg Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions NSBT IVP, Downers Grove, Ill (1999) 128-133.
 Horsley 26
 C.f. Matthew 25:14-30
 NT Wright Jesus and the Victory of God 634
 Ray Anderson Minding God’s Business Wipf and Stock Publishers (2008) 34
 Philip Schaff “Excursus on Usury” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II Vol. 14: The Seven Ecumenical Councils Hendrickson Publishers; annotated edition (1994) Accessed on 17th May 2010 from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.vii.vi.xxvi.html
 Benjamin Nelson The Idea of Usury 4
 Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica Q.78 Article 1: “Is it a sin to take usury for money lent?”
 Michael Wykes “Devaluing the Scholastics: Calvin’s Ethics of Usury” CTJ 38 (2003) 34
 Nelson 24
 The following information is summarized from Nelson 31-56
 John Calvin, Harmony of the Law, Vol 3. Lev 25:35-38, Deut 23:19-20 Accessed at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom05.ii.iv.ii.ix.html on 18th May 2010
 Wykes 45
 Philip Schaff “Excursus on Usury” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II Vol. 14: The Seven Ecumenical Councils Hendrickson Publishers; annotated edition (1994) Accessed on 17th May 2010 from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.vii.vi.xxvi.html
 Max Webber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Scribner New York, NY (1958)
 Webber, 48-49
 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. J. A. K. Thomson, rev. H. Tredenick (London: Penguin, 1976), 183 as quoted by Wykes, 29.
 The etymological relationship between the Greek word for law or contract nomos is related to the word for money nomisma. Wykes 30.
 Wykes 31.
 Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.” Philosophy and Public Affairs, (1972) 229-243. Having covered it in class, it will only be summarized in this paper.
 The following information is summarized from Milton Friedman Capitalism and Freedom University of Chicago Press, Chicago Ill (1962) 37-55
 Friedman 40
 Robert H. Nelson, Economics as Religion: from Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA (2001), 74
 Robert Nelson, 73
 Joel S. Kaminsky Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, UK (1995) 180
 Vikram Nehru, “THIRD-WORLD DEBT RELIEF: Indebtedness just a
symptom of poverty” Constitution 7th June 2004. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTDEBTDEPT/NewsAndEvents/20263626/vikram-nehru-hipc-opinion.pdf Accessed 18th May 2010