Mammon is used in the New Testament to describe material wealth or greed.
Webster (1977) defines 'mammon' as: 1) the false god of riches and avarice. 2) riches regarded as an object of worship and greedy pursuit; wealth as an evil, more or less personified. Winston (1954) defines: 1) wealth, worldly gain; 2) greed for riches; cupidity. Oxford (1992) defines: god of wealth, regarded as evil or immoral; 'those who worship mammon' = greedy people who value money too highly.
The word is used in contemporary language with the same meaning in at least Finnish (mammona), Danish (mammon), Hebrew (mamon), Norwegian (mammon) , Polish (mamona), Czech (mamon), Slovak (mamona), Swedish (mammon), and German (Mammon).
Mammon is a term that was used to describe riches, avarice, and worldly gain in Biblical literature. It was personified as a false god in the New Testament. The term is often used to refer to excessive materialism or greed as a negative influence. Adjectival forms are mammonish and mammonistic per Winston 1954, Webster's 1977.
Etymologically, the word is assumed to derive from Late Latin 'mammon', from Greek 'μαμμωνάς', Syrian 'mámóna' (riches), Aramaic 'mamon' (riches), probably from Mishnaic Hebrew 'ממון (mmôn)'. (See refs: Winston 1954, Webster's 1977.)
The Greek word for "Mammon", mamonas, occurs in the Sermon on the Mount (during the discourse on ostentation) and in the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:9-13). The Authorised Version keeps the Syriac word. John Wycliffe uses "richessis". Other scholars derive Mammon from Phoenician "mommon", benefit.
The term Mammon, personifed as a god of allegiance to avarice, draws from the words Amon, Ammonite(Jordan) and even Amon-Ra (Amen-Ra, Egypt).
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can't serve both God and Mammon" Matthew 6:24
In the Bible, Mammon is personified in Luke 16:13, and Matthew 6:24, the latter verse repeating Luke 16:13. In some translations, Luke 16:9 and Luke 16:11 also personify mammon; but in others, it is translated as 'dishonest wealth' or equivalent. In some Spanish versions, it is said as "Mamón", but in others, as "Dinero" (Spanish for "money").
Early mentions of Mammon appear to stem from the personification in the Gospels, e.g. Didascalia, "Do solo Mammona cogitant, quorum Deus est sacculus"; and Saint Augustine, "Lucrum Punice Mammon dicitur" (Serm. on Mt., ii). Gregory of Nyssa also asserted that Mammon was another name for Beelzebub.
During the Middle Ages, Mammon was commonly personified as the demon of avarice, richness and injustice. Thus Peter Lombard (II, dist. 6) says, "Riches are called by the name of a devil, namely Mammon, for Mammon is the name of a devil, by which name riches are called according to the Syrian tongue." Piers Plowman also regards Mammon as a deity. Nicholas de Lyra (commenting on the passage in Luke) says: "Mammon est nomen daemonis" (Mammon is the name of a demon).
No trace, however, of any Syriac god of such a name exists, and the common literary identification of the name with a god of covetousness or avarice likely stems from Spenser's The Faerie Queene, where Mammon oversees a cave of worldly wealth. Milton's Paradise Lost describes a fallen angel who values earthly treasure over all other things. Later occultist writings such as De Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal describe Mammon as Hell's ambassador to England. For Thomas Carlyle in Past and Present, the 'Gospel of Mammonism' became simply a metaphoric personification for the materialist spirit of the nineteenth century.
Mammon is somewhat similar to the Greek god Plutus, and the Roman Dis Pater, in his description, and it is likely that he was at some point based on them; especially since Plutus appears in The Divine Comedy as a wolf-like demon of wealth, wolves being associated with greed in the Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas metaphorically described the sin of Avarice as "Mammon being carried up from Hell by a wolf, coming to inflame the human heart with Greed".
Mammon has also been claimed in some texts to be the 'anti-christ' or son of the Devil, and Guardian to the gates of Hell. Some of the Satanist church sects believe that Mammon is pictured as a dragon in the Bible, and that Mammon is the will-be-destructor of mankind.
In all Mozilla-based browsers, the Book of Mozilla uses Mammon to refer to Microsoft.
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