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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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BANK.1. In the parable of the Pounds, Christ upbraids the slothful servant because he had not I given his pound to the bank (ἐπὶ τράπεζαν), i.e. the office of the money-changers (Luke 19:23), who would have kept it safe, and also paid interest for it. ‘Bankers’ (τραπεζῖται) is used in Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 of Matthew 25:27 for ‘money-changers’ of the Authorized Version. In Greek cities the bankers sat at their tables (τράπεζα) in the market-place. They changed coins, but also took money on deposit, giving what would now seem very high interest (see articles ‘Money-Changers’ and ‘Usury’ in vols. iii. and iv. of Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible).

In this parable some suppose that Christ meant by ‘the bank’ to indicate the Synagogue, or the Christian Church as an organized body, which might use the gifts or powers of a disciple, when he could not, through timidity or lack of energy, exercise them himself. Others have supposed that He pointed to prayer as a substitute for good works, when the disciple was unable to do such. But all this is very precarious. (Cf. Bruce, Parabolic Teaching of Christ, p. 209 f.).

There is an apocryphal saying of Christ which may be connected with this parable. Origen (in Joann. xix. etc.) gives it thus: γἰνεσθε τρατεζἰται δὀκιμοι, ‘Be ye tried money-changers.’ This is explained in the Clementine Homilies (iii. 61) to mean that Christians should prove the words of Christ, as the bankers lest and approve the gold and silver on their tables. But it may perhaps he looked at rather as connected with the stewardship of gifts and talents by the Lord’s disciples, finding its parallel in such sayings as Luke 16:12 ‘If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?’ The duty of a timid servant may be to use his gifts under the guidance and authority of others, but growing experience might advance him to be a τρατεζίτης himself, who is able to trade boldly with that which has been entrusted to him.

2. In Luke 19:43 ‘bank,’ Authorized Version ‘trench’ (Gr. χάραξ). probably stands for a palisade (so (Revised Version margin)) of stakes, strengthened with brandies and earth, with a ditch behind, used by besiegers as a protection against arrows or attacking parties (Lat. vallum). Such a palisade was actually employed by the soldiers of Titus in the siege of Jerusalem, a.d. 70 (Josephus BJ v. vi. 2).

David M. W. Laird.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Bank'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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