Common People and Economic Games in the Early Modern Era
Since the beginnings of the Christian era the most alarming feature
concerning Judas has been the inadequacy of his economic behaviour, not his
betrayal. What kind of man would exchange the infinite value for Christ for
the paltry sum of thirty pieces of silver? Judas thus became the negative prototype
of people who ignore the authentic value of things: Over time, in the Middles
Ages and the Modern Era, Judas came to exemplify misapprehension of how the
market and the economy work. On the other hand, Mary Magdalene, who "wastes"
a valuable balm in order to anoint Jesus's head, became a symbol of proper,
far-sighted economic behaviour, aware of the difference between petty, private
interest and the social uses of wealth. The implications of this opposition
can be seen in the social exclusion codes which characterize European economic
modernization and feed the shame of ordinary people, whom Judas fundamentally
Giacomo Todeschini teaches Medieval History
at the University of Trieste.
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