Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-5

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

Seven years before the assassination of Julius Caesar, an acrimonious dispute broke out between Marcus Tullius Cicero, at the time the provincial governor of Cilicia, and Marcus Junius Brutus, a young provincial Roman administrator. Th e elder statesman chided the younger man for using his...

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Chapter 1: Saints and Sinners

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pp. 13-57

Collecting interest traditionally was considered the world’s second oldest profession until the Industrial Revolution. It was lumped together with other socially unacceptable practices as inimical to the common good and a perversion of the idea that man should help his fellow man. Along with...

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Chapter 2: Embracing Shylock

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pp. 58-96

Official attitudes toward usury changed remarkably little in the late Middle Ages and the early years of the Renaissance. It still was considered an execrable sin against humanity although in reality it was being practiced by all and sundry in the commercial revolution in Italy and the rest of...

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Chapter 3: Protestants, War, and Capitalism

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pp. 97-136

Following the Reformation, faith- based prohibitions against usury and interest began to crumble in the wake of increased commerce and exploration, although they maintained their emotional and moral appeal for centuries to come. But practicality slowly began to win the usury debate and...

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Chapter 4: The Great Experiment

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pp. 137-179

As society grew larger and entered the industrial age, the demand for loans and property increased. Usury prohibitions were under pressure in Britain and the United States because they were seen by many as standing in the way of progress. As experience in the eighteenth century proved...

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Chapter 5: The New Debt Revolution

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pp. 180-229

The new attitude toward debt emerging from the nineteenth century was best found in a book by Thorstein Veblen that was published in 1899. In his Theory of the Leisure Class, he described the new class of consumers who had grown rich over the previous decades. “Conspicuous consumption of...

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Chapter 6: Something Old, Something New

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pp. 230-271

In 1970, a new edition of the King James Bible appeared, the first since the original English translation appeared in 1611. Th e New English Bible was a collaboration by noted biblical scholars and incorporated the most advanced knowledge available. It also modernized the text by using contemporary language. But its treatment of one Old Testament passage concerning...

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Chapter 7: Islam, Interest, and Microlending

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pp. 272-298

Developments in finance were centered mostly in New York and London after World War II. New financial theories, products, and practices developed at a torrid pace, beginning in the 1950s, and by the 2000s most of the developed world had adopted them in one form or other. But in the developing world, and in the Islamic world in particular, not much had...

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Chapter 8: The Consumer Debt Revolution

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pp. 299-334

The erosion of state usury laws in the United States reflected the new attitude that had been developing toward debt since the 1970s. Debt was no longer feared. The term had been replaced in consumer culture by the term credit; how much credit lenders extended to borrowers was a reflection...

Appendix Early Interest Rate Tables and Calculations

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pp. 335-342

Notes

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pp. 343-360

Bibliography

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pp. 361-376

Index

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pp. 377-388

Acknowledgments

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pp. 396-396