Profit ‘That is Condemned by the Word of God’: John Jewel’s Theological Method in His Opposition to Usury

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John Jewel, regarded as the principal apologist and theologian for the Elizabethan Church, was also esteemed as one of England’s most important (if not the most important) authority on the subject of usury, and therefore was cited frequently by opponents of usury towards the end of the sixteenth century and throughout the seventeenth century. One of the most sustained interpretations of Jewel as a theologian on the subject of usury was by Christoph Jelinger, who observed that the late bishop of Sarum employed the same theological method in opposing usury as he did in defending the doctrines and practices of the Church of England against its Catholic opponents, that is, by appealing to the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, Church Councils, and the example of the primitive church. This article seeks to confirm the opinion of Jelinger, and in doing so show that Jewel’s opposition to usury stemmed primarily from the conviction that it was both a vice and heresy that eroded the unifying attribute of Christian society which was love.

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