Friday, February 13, 2009

Money and Scripture

There was a time not so long ago when I would read a verse that talks about money and quite easily correlate that term with the cash in my pocket or the balance in my accounts. After all, that is what we have been taught for a few hundred years.

But what if the word translated money in Scripture were actually something else?

Would this be important for us to understand?

What if our definition and understanding of money is completely different from the actual and intended meaning in Scripture? If there is a difference in meaning, should this difference be clarified?

We all know words take on new and different meaning over time and across cultural and generational boundaries...

Let's look at two passages of Scripture, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament:

Regarding Genesis 43:21 I want to illustrate three points.

1) Between the two translations noted below you will notice that one renders the term money and the other the term silver. This helps to illustrate that it is no great leap to challenge the proper English rendering of this underlying Hebrew word.

2) The underlying word is KSP or KeSeP, which is the word for silver. (not money)

3) This verse also has the added feature of specifically referring to the weight of the money, which is actually the weight of the silver. It is the actual quantity of a commodity that is being referenced and traded.

Genesis 43:21 and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So we have brought it back in our hand. NASB95
Genesis 43:21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. NIV

Next let's look at a New Testament example.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. NASB95

We see here that the underlying Greek word is rendered love of silver.

What if English translations of Scripture used the word silver every place that the original languages used a word for silver? You know what I mean... Precise and accurate translation from the original language into equivalent terms currently in use today.

If one read silver instead of money each time the original text said silver, one would have cause to wonder about the difference between silver and the stuff we call money today.

The money spoken of and used in the Bible was honest money that, for its part, preserved everyone's property rights. Our money today quite literally causes fraud and theft every single day.

Even if we forget that Scripture says silver, not money, should we really be using the same term for both for honest money from Scripture and the destructive, dishonest, costless money in use today?