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Failure to Repay a Debt or Bankruptcy according to the Fathers?

debt bankruptcy loan usury

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#1 Father Philosoph Uhlman

Father Philosoph Uhlman

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Posted 29 June 2015 - 09:39 PM

I have been trying to find Patristic references (or anything from contemporary Fathers) addressing the situation of people who do not repay debts, default on a debt, are unable to repay a debt or who go bankrupt (obviously not a term that would be current in the Patristic literature).  


I am aware of some of the various commentary on usury, greed and wealth, but are there some comments specifically directed to the debtor?  What do the father's have to say about abandoning a debt?  Or when is it permissible to do so?  I know that there was the practice of debt-bondage or debt slavery where one had to work off their debt with their body.  And later the debtors prison?  (I'm thinking about Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham right now)


Debt-bondage seems to play out in a modern form with credit cards and lines of credit for many people for many years or continuously, with a portion getting to the situation of needing to apply for bankruptcy.  We don't have a debtors prison now, only shame and financial consequences to credit, but how does the church understand this modern issue - what is the moral effects or how does abandoning a debt affect one's salvation?  This seems a fairly familiar modern problem with many passions associated but I would really like to connect with how the fathers would view these situations.


Thank you for any help!

Edited by Father Philosoph Uhlman, 29 June 2015 - 09:47 PM.

#2 Kosta


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Posted 29 June 2015 - 11:58 PM

Never really came across that. I imagine what written would be along the lines of what you call debt bondage. Many slaves and servants were probably paying off a debt. I do think Justinians Codex would cover the legal protocols. Your best bet would be a book on the secular economics of the byzantine empire.

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