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November 20, Dana Ouellette

Posted on: Nov 8, 2013

Dana Ouellette will present on November 20 at 16:00 in room HA 015.

Loan Sharks in the Temple? An Investigation of the Socio-economic Function of the "tables of the money changers."

There has been much debate about the interpretation of Jesus tipping over the money changers' tables in the temple. At the center of this debate is ones understanding of the purpose and function of the money changers in the Jerusalem Temple.  If their only function was to exchange foreign currency for the payment of the temple tax, which is necessary for sacrifice to take place, then Jesus would have likely been understood as protesting the temple system.  However, if the money changers were known to have engaged in economic corruption, then it is likely that Jesus’ actions would be interpreted as a protest against such corruption in the temple.  This paper will investigate the function and purpose of the money changers in the Jerusalem temple, and the perception of money changers (as well as the larger economic practices within the temple) around the time of Jesus’ life.  I will argue that the money changers were actually lending institutions that were known to have engaged in corrupt economic practices, and that Jesus’ action in the temple would likely have been understood as a protest against such economic corruption in the temple.