The church fathers of the Middle Ages looked on the taking of interest as a sin. In assuming this position they were influenced no doubt by the fact that most loans were consumption loans - that is, loans contracted for the purpose of acquiring consumable goods. They did not believe that money was productive. Consequently, they declared that a debt was fully discharged when the borrower returned all that he had borrowed. Because of the refusal of the church to countenance the taking of interest, the money-lending business, as was noticed in an earlier connection, naturally fell into the hands of the Jews and the Lombards. Here no doubt is one of the chief causes of the bitter feeling that existed between the Jews and their Christian neighbors. The latter, regarding all interest as usury, looked on the Jews with contempt. Shakespeare clearly recognized the two divergent viewpoints when he made Shylock say in the Merchant of Venice:
"Signior Antonio, many a time and oft In the Rialto you have rated me About my moneys and my usances:"
To this Antonio, the merchant, answered:
"If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not As to thy friends; for when did friendship take A breed of barren metal of his friend ? But lend it rather to thine enemy, Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face Exact the penalties."