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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines how Protestants related to the world of goods and commercial exchange. Recent scholarship has moved beyond Max Weber’s initial formulation of the Protestant Ethic and examined these relationships from multiple perspectives, including the history of art and architecture, economic history, cultural history, and the history of ideas. Protestants’ sundering of the holy from the corporeal transformed the meaning of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation, while at the same time directing pious donations toward communal welfare, especially almsgiving. Commercial practices were generally judged by their utility to the community and, later, the state. Mainstream Protestantism endorsed property rights, social distinctions, and reasonable consumption as the hallmarks of Christian order, while marginal movements presented alternate visions of the place of property, exchange, and luxury in the Christian life.

Keywords: adiaphora, charity, material culture, property, Protestant ethic, slavery, trade, usury, vocation, Max Weber

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