Mammon

De-sacralizing Money: Hiding Actions of the Right Hand from the Left

by Robb Davis In the sermon he preached on the mountainside, Matthew records Jesus as saying (in the midst of a long discussion of the worship of, prayer to and trust in God):  No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (RSV Chapter 6 v 24)  Why is the original Aramaic word that Jesus used kept in the English Revised Standard Version (and in most English versions)? What can this choice mean: serve God or Mammon?  Why the personalization of the concept of Mammon?  Mammon means simply money or wealth but here Jesus elevates it to more than just a monetary conceptualization. He names it as a personal power vying for our allegiance and worship. French jurist and sociologist Jacques Ellul, in his 1954 work L’homme et l’argent (literally: Man and Money but translated into English as Money and Power) says this about Jesus’ choice of words and its meaning: We absolutely must not minimize the parallel Jesus draws between God and Mammon. He is not using a rhetorical figure but pointing out a reality. God as a person and Mammon as a person find themselves in conflict. Jesus describes the relation between us and one or the...

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