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Morality After CalvinTheodore Beza's Christian Censor and Reformed Ethics$
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Kirk M. Summers

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190280079

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190280079.001.0001

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Usury and the Rhetoric of Mutuality

Usury and the Rhetoric of Mutuality

(p.211) 5 Usury and the Rhetoric of Mutuality
Morality After Calvin

Kirk M. Summers

Oxford University Press

In this chapter a poem of the Cato dealing with the sin of usury is situated within its historical context, from the pronouncements of Plato and Aristotle, Pliny’s essay on the subject, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the opinions of Medieval jurisconsults and scholastics. Beza’s stance on usury as presented in the poem appears harsher than even those of Calvin. A survey of the realities in Geneva during his tenure there, however, reveals that he too had flexibility in his principles so long as Christian charity was not violated. The chapter also analyzes poems on greed and envy and concludes that Genevan sumptuary laws attempted to eliminate both vices by managing displays of wealth. Greed, envy, usury, and ill-gotten gain all undermine the peace of mind, order, and mutual love that characterize a godly society.

Keywords:   usury, moneylending, greed, envy, sumptuary laws, mutuality

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