Bankers

Shoeb Raza asked on the Share page:

I would like to know [your] opinion on the word “bank” & “bankers” used in various english versions of the Bible; is this usage anachronistic? By this word one might take as we deposit in banks nowadays, same were the practice back then. How would a common person secure his/her money and earn interest on them.

Strictly speaking it is anachronistic. The “bankers” in Matt 25:27 were individual money changers. They sat at a table with piles of coins. As they exchanged money, they secured a profit for themselves. Apparently, they would also accept deposits and loan out money against interest.

The problem for translators is that it is not easy to find another suitable word without going into a long explanation about how one could earn interest from one’s money in those days. Doing that would draw undue attention to such differences. Translators often accept to use such minor anachronisms in order to communicate the basic idea of the text. In transferring a text across a hugh cultural and time gap, one has to weigh the pros and cons of the various options.

In a way, it is worse that the KJV said that people “sat at table” in John 12:2 where Mary anointed Jesus’ feet. The text says that they reclined (see NIV). It refers to lying on the side with the bare feet sticking out behind them. Mary was not crawling under the table to reach the feet of Jesus.

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