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.