Catholic Answers Forums Fun with talents and denarii

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#1
Sep 14, '05, 1:09 am
 Timidity Regular Member Join Date: August 16, 2004 Posts: 2,248 Religion: Catholic (Latin-Rite)
Fun with talents and denarii

Last Sunday's gospel reading was the story of the servants' debts from the 18th chapter of Matthew. While the NAB very logically replaces the actual sums of the debts with descriptors, most other translations enumerate the first servant's debt as 10,000 talents, and the second servant's debt as 100 denarii.

Having nothing better to do, I decided to correct these values for inflation. I'm sure everyone does the same.

The denarius was the basic daily wage for a laborer. In First Century Israel the typical laborer would work 6 days a week, thus yielding a weekly wage of 6 denarii. The lesser servant's debt was 100 denarii, or 16.67 weeks worth of a day-laborers time.

In 2005, a laborer makes about \$7.50 and hour, for 40 hours a week, yielding \$300/week. \$300 per week for 16.67 weeks, yields an equivalent of \$5,000. This also means that one denarius is \$5,000/100=\$50.

So the lesser servant owed \$5,000.

One talent is equal to 6,000 denarii. But the first servant owed 10,000 talents, so that would be 60,000,000 denarii. At \$50 per denarii, that means the greater servant owed \$3 billion (that's \$3 thousand million for you non-Americans).

Well, I though it was fun.
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#2
Sep 14, '05, 7:57 am
 steve99 Junior Member Join Date: April 30, 2005 Posts: 454 Religion: Catholic
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Timidity At \$50 per denarii, that means the greater servant owed \$3 billion (that's \$3 thousand million for you non-Americans).
A billion used to be a million million to non-Americans - at least in Britain - until we started adopting your cheap ways.
Another piece of Americal cultural imperialism.
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#3
Sep 14, '05, 11:45 am
 Timidity Regular Member Join Date: August 16, 2004 Posts: 2,248 Religion: Catholic (Latin-Rite)
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

Quote:
 Originally Posted by steve99 A billion used to be a million million to non-Americans - at least in Britain - until we started adopting your cheap ways.
Really? You changed? When did that happen? I didn't even get a memo!

Quote:
 Originally Posted by steve99 Another piece of Americal cultural imperialism.
It's okay--British cultural imperialism did enough damage here to our television programmes. Oops, programs.
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#4
Sep 14, '05, 8:43 pm
 DaveBj Veteran Member Join Date: May 19, 2004 Posts: 10,268 Religion: Catholic, Tiber Swim Team Class of 2005
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Timidity *snip In 2005, a laborer makes about \$7.50 and hour, for 40 hours a week, yielding \$300/week. \$300 per week for 16.67 weeks, yields an equivalent of \$5,000. This also means that one denarius is \$5,000/100=\$50.
However, the Middle Eastern work-day in the first century was 12 hours, not 8. And don't forget to factor in time-and-a-half for overtime (any time over 8 hours), which any American worker worth his salt would demand.

Quote:
 So the lesser servant owed \$5,000.
More like \$10,500.

Quote:
 One talent is equal to 6,000 denarii. But the first servant owed 10,000 talents, so that would be 60,000,000 denarii. At \$50 per denarii, that means the greater servant owed \$3 billion (that's \$3 thousand million for you non-Americans).
Another way of calculating that would be to go by weight. A talent was 75 lb, presumably of gold. If we take gold at \$400 an ounce, than a talent is 75x16x\$400, or \$480,000, and 10,000 talents would be 4.8 gigabucks, which isn't too far off your estimate.

[QUOTEWell, I though it was fun.[/quote]

It was. It emphasizes, for our minds, Jesus' point that the first guy was forgiven an impossibly huge debt, and then he tossed a guy into debtor's prison for a debt that was reasonably payable. No wonder the Boss got mad.

DaveBj
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#5
Sep 14, '05, 9:22 pm
 Knight4God New Member Join Date: August 30, 2005 Posts: 90 Religion: Anglican
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

Nice, Kudos, amazing what a little cultural background study will do for bringing out the modern application in the text!
#6
Sep 14, '05, 9:25 pm
 Brain Regular Member Join Date: June 10, 2004 Posts: 1,387 Religion: Latin Rite Catholic
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

also 10000 was the largest number in arithmatic in those days, so essentially the greater debt was nigh infinite
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#7
Sep 15, '05, 1:05 am
 Mystophilus Regular Member Join Date: August 6, 2005 Posts: 2,587
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

Quote:
 Originally Posted by steve99 A billion used to be a million million to non-Americans - at least in Britain.
In the Antipodean Colonies, we switched to the American version decades ago, probably about when we went metric (1969). Still haven't given up on the One True Spelling, though.
#8
Sep 15, '05, 1:27 am
 steve99 Junior Member Join Date: April 30, 2005 Posts: 454 Religion: Catholic
Re: Fun with talents and denarii

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Timidity Really? You changed? When did that happen? I didn't even get a memo! It's okay--British cultural imperialism did enough damage here to our television programmes. Oops, programs.
You get some of our television?
WOW - you do have some culture over there then.
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"This is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God. " (Micah 6:8)

 Catholic Answers Forums Fun with talents and denarii

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