A Brief History of Money and Religion

However, a precondition to the formalization of market trade and the use of money was the creation and control of weights and measures. Improved weights and measures parallel the transition from less to more formalized and efficient means of trade. Egyptian art shows early weighing scenes in which balances are used for precious metals and temple treasures. Balances are not recorded in use for commerce until 1350 B.C.[5]

The first coins were introduced by King Croesus (as in "rich as Croesus") in Lydia in 561-546 B.C. They were made of electrum, a mixture of silver and gold.[6] Their value was based on their weight. Notice the bull's head in this example. Mark Taylor argues that because the bull sacrificed at the temple is a symbol of the sacred, with the introduction of coin, the gods die and are reborn as money. Therefore, "money is God" and also the negation of religion.[7] This is the very beginning of a shift away from a religious society to a more secular one.

In the early Christian world of one god, money was still based on a system weights and measures and religion continued to dominate culture.

In fact, the church was the primary patron of culture. The link between money and religion shifted from the temple as treasury and place of sacrificial exchange to patron for art that glorified God. A very small number of examples will serve to demonstrate: Vienna Genesis, circa 500 A.D., Jacob Wrestling with an Angel.

Gospel Book of Otto III, circa 1000 A.D., Christ Washing Peter's Feet.