The Worship of Mammon

1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.
1909 painting The Worship of Mammon by Evelyn De Morgan.

The word Mammon really fell from our lexicon, wonder why too, as it’s such a descriptive word and has such a long history. It’s as though the the meaning is ugly or distasteful, so it’s been cast aside.

For the longest time I read and re-read Luke Chapter 16 and especially verse 8 , where Jesus say’s in the parable of the Unjust Steward;

for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of the light.

Luke 16:8

Mammon Etymology

The word Mammon comes into English from post-classical Latin mammona ‘wealth’, used most importantly in the Vulgate Bible (along with Tertullian’s mammonas and pseudo-Jerome’s mammon). This was in turn borrowed from Hellenistic Greek μαμωνᾶς, which appears in the New Testament, borrowed from Aramaic מָמוֹנָא māmōnā, an emphatic form of the word māmōn ‘wealth, profit’, perhaps specifically from the Syriac dialect. However, it is not clear what the earlier history of the Aramaic form is.

The word may have been present throughout the Canaanite languages: the word is unknown in Old Testament Hebrew, but has been found in the Qumran documents; post-biblical Hebrew attests to māmōn; and, according to St Augustine of Hippo, Punic included the word mammon ‘profit’. It has been suggested that the Aramaic word māmōn was a loanword from Mishnaic Hebrew ממון (mamôn) meaning money, wealth, or possessions; although it may also have meant “that in which one trusts”.

According to the Textus Receptus of the New Testament, the Greek word translated “Mammon” is spelled μαμμωνᾷ in the Sermon on the Mount at Matt. 6:24, and μαμωνᾶ (from μαμωνᾶς) in the parable of the Unjust Steward at Luke 16:9,11,13.

The 27th edition of the popular Critical Text of the New Testament has μαμωνᾶ in all four places with no indication of any textual variances, thereby ignoring the Textus Receptus reading at Matt. 6:24. The Liddell and Scott Lexicon has a listing for each spelling, indicating that each occurs only in the New Testament, nowhere else in ancient and Hellenistic Greek literature. The spelling μαμμωνᾷ refers to “a Syrian deity, god of riches; Hence riches, wealth”; μαμωνᾶς is transliterated from Aramaic [ממון] and also means “wealth.” The Authorised Version uses “Mammon” for both Greek spellings; John Wycliffe uses richessis.

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible explains it as “a Semitic word for money or riches”. The International Children’s Bible (ICB) uses the wording “You cannot serve God and money at the same time”.

Christians began to use mammon as a pejorative, a term that was used to describe gluttony, excessive materialism, greed, and unjust worldly gain.

I can attest to the this being a tough test, especially in an age when a billion dollars can be made in a single year, by a single soul, connected to the right people, at the right time, with the right ideas. Which is why tech incubators are located on university campuses. Silicon Valley is comprised of thousands of companies that were a bright idea just a few years ago.

Passion for web publishing and love of the Internet and this brave new information age world we live in, is what empowers me to keep chasing my own Mammon but for sure I am guilty of the sin of the worship of Mammon and recognize that my self-conditioning, cultural programming and total naivety, sadly; pursuit of Success has been the hallmark of my life.

I’m a Technocrat but at least not a snob about it. Forgive me, as I forgive myself and forgive you too but let’s try to get over it, worship of Mammon sucks, having it is sweet but what is best is a dough flow, thick and rich, started from a trickle and nurtured to a steady, consistent cash-flow.

The prayer to ask for, rather than a boatload of Mammon, is to find a useful niche that helps others benfit, from which to extract sustainable prosperity.


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