Temples, Tithes, and Taxes
The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel
Where to Purchase
The temple in Jerusalem was both the center of ancient Israel's religious life and also an economic center for the nation.
In this groundbreaking study of the economic functions of the Jerusalem temple, Marty E. Stevens, who worked for fifteen years as a Certified Public Accountant prior to getting a PhD in Old Testament, demonstrates that the temple acted as the central bank, internal revenue collector, source of loans, and even debt collector for ancient Israel. Applying a broad knowledge of temple-systems throughout the ancient Near East, Stevens sheds light on the roles played by various officials mentioned in Scripture and their tasks within the temple complex. Neither "Big Brother" nor "big business," the temple still served government and commerce in the course of conducting its religious functions. This fascinating book opens new avenues for understanding the Jerusalem temple and its impact on Israelite society.
"Professor Stevens has generously provided both the guild and the church a marvelously accessible study of the economic role of the temple in ancient Israel. She brings to her analysis the precision of an accountant, the judiciousness of a historian, and the passion of an educator. Her work will prove to be an indispensable reference work and an engaging textbook."--William P. Brown, professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
"This study presents an entirely new way of looking at the Jerusalem temples and their personnel. Stevens brings to light the most neglected aspect of temple life in most previous scholarship, that is, the commercial role it played in the culture of its times. She has introduced fresh ways of conceiving its function as the power behind the throne and nation."--John M. Halligan, professor emeritus of biblical studies, St. John Fisher College
"Stevens brings her knowledge of economics as a Certified Public Accountant to the study of the economic life of ancient Israel as it is centered in the Temple in Jerusalem. . . . Charts, diagrams, and maps illustrate many of the points made. This interesting, carefully researched, and very readable book demonstrates well how the Temple functioned as an economic institution. It is recommended for student and teacher alike."--The Bible Today
"As a survey of the economic side of temple life targeted at pastors and students Stevens has done a good job. Scholars and others with a greater understanding of the Old Testament will benefit from the later chapters. . . . Stevens has done us a service, filling a gap by providing a resource about the economics of the Jerusalem temple institution. Temples, Tithes, and Taxes is a helpful introduction that reminds us how significant economics is to institutions of worship."--Colloquium
"Marty Stevens brings to this synchronic study the analytic acumen of an accountant, the dedicated patience of a professor, and the steadfast devotion of a Christian believer with a desire to conclude her detailed analysis with useful application for seminary students and the church. To this end she begins this descriptive focus on the temple in Jerusalem from its origin to final destruction as ancient Israel's central religious and socioeconomic institution with an extensive basic orientation to OT studies. This study is particularly helpful for undergraduates, beginning seminarians, and ordinary church members. . . . Stevens' mastery of the material proves reliable. . . . Although her primary focus is on the Israelite temple, she incorporates extensive ANE parallel texts particularly when clarifying the meaning of certain technical terms. . . . [T]his text will serve most readers well, whether in the academy or the church."--Restoration Quarterly
"The value of this book is that it is written by an economist who is also well informed about biblical studies and Palestinian archaeology. . . . One looks with eager expectation to this work of Marty Stevens, and, most fortunately, we are not disappointed. It has long been recognized that the Jerusalem temple was not merely a religious institution but also performed significant economic and political roles. Those extrareligious roles of the temple have, in previous biblical scholarship, been rather sketchily articulated. Stevens fills in the blanks, insofar as they can be filled in, given the limitation of our sources. . . . The methodology Stevens employs is to marshal well-documented information on ancient Near Eastern temples, which is especially copious for Mesopotamia, and offer it as contextual illumination of the role of the temple in ancient Israel. Furthermore, she garners the results of archaeological excavations of temples in ancient Israel to provide illuminating details that the Bible itself does not provide. To her credit, Stevens is adroit both at explicating the textual information on temples and at summoning the insights of archaeology. . . . [The] inner and outer spheres of the temple economy are splendidly illustrated by a series of charts, providing a synoptic view that I have not found duplicated elsewhere in the voluminous literature on the Jerusalem temple. . . . This is an important book for grasping the actual and surmised functions of the Israelite temples, with special reference to the Jerusalem temple. It provides a clear and detailed understanding of the temple as an institution that affected the whole of life. For this gift, biblical scholars and biblical readers can only be grateful."--Catholic Biblical Quarterly
"[An] informative and very readable volume."--Old Testament Abstracts
"This innovative study of the Jerusalem temple as an economic institution supporting itself from tithes is based largely on textual (biblical) and comparative evidence from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. . . . It is to be hoped that the author pursues the subject further."--International Review of Biblical Studies
"A wonderful book on a subject that can be really difficult. We all owe a tremendous debt to those who wade through the sort of sources that Stevens handles with evident ease. To have this material presented in such a readable and hardly dusty format is an unexpected bonus."--Pneuma Review