It is safe to say that the Old Testament prohibits usury? Jesus followed the Law and as a rabbi he would have also prohibited it. It seems that the Church banned usury until roughly the 18th Century.

Are these statements correct from a historical perspective?

  • While rabbi means "teacher" what we now know as rabbis formed from a new tradition after the destruction of the Second Temple. (Your usage is close enough). Which church are your referring to, specifically? Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


You point appears to be partly correct. Jesus would not have endorsed usury, but that particular doctrinal point (given that most people Jesus taught at the time were already aware of OT law) may not have arisen due to common practice being in general accordance to the OT law. There is a reasonable treatment from the Catholic Point of View in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Usury, the following points arise:

  • The New Testament is silent on usury.
  • Until the fourth century all that can be inferred from the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers is that it is contrary to mercy and humanity to demand interest from a poor and needy man..they simply protest against the exploitation of misfortune, and such transactions as, under the pretence of rendering > service to the borrower, really threw him into great distress."

  • The 12th canon of the First Council of Carthage (345) and the 36th canon of the Council of Aix (789) have declared it to be reprehensible even for laymen to make money by lending at interest. The canonical laws of the Middle Ages absolutely forbade the practice.

  • The {Eastern Orthodox}, at least since the sixteenth century, do not consider the taking of interest on loans as intrinsically bad.

  • For a long time civil law was in agreement with canon law; but as early as the sixteenth century, Germany allowed interest at 5 percent; in France, on the contrary, interest on loans was forbidden until the Decree of 2 and 3 October, 1789.
  • The Holy See admits practically the lawfulness of interest on loans, even for ecclesiastical property, though it has not promulgated any doctrinal decree on the subject.
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    Just an suggestion: it might be preferable to say “Eastern Orthodox” rather than “schismatic Greeks,” out of courtesy. Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 18:52
  • CE's language, not mine, but I'll edit that in and I agree with you completely. Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 19:12

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