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     Question Forum :  Prohibition of Interest in Christianity & Judaism    Date Posted:  07 - March  -  2003




Is interest forbidden in Christianity and Judaism? If it is could you please email me sources from the Bible (Old and New Testaments) to confirm that.

Deuteronomy 23:20 forbids "lending upon interest". The practise is also deplored in Ezekiel 22:12. Further references are in Ezekiel 18:8-9 and Psalm 15:5. The only violent act reported in the gospels to have been committed by Jesus was chasing the money changers out of the temple. The Churches were unanimous about the prohibition of interest until Calvin in the early 16th century provided theological justification for the money lenders by interpreting the difference between brothers and strangers made in Deuteronomy 23:21 and arguing that as with the arrival of Christianity the Jewish covenant had ended and all Christians were in the category of gentiles or strangers, the prohibition no longer applied. This is a typical example of legal reasoning exploiting a loophole until the original intention of an injunction has been perverted. Instead of extending the benefit of non-usurious dealings to the wider world, Calvin sees it as an outdated privilege standing in the way of economic progress. Half a millennium later we see similar attempts at perverting the Islamic prohibition of interest with usurious non-Muslim banks trying to develop so-called Islamic banking models.

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