Robert L. Hagerman STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT BUFFALO
ACCOUNTING IN THE BIBLE
Abstract: This paper traces several accounting concepts in the Bible. In particu-lar, the Bible discusses the objectives of accounting, internal control procedures and managerial accounting topics. This paper links the Bible to current account-ing thought.
The beginnings of modern accounting are commonly traced to Pacioli in the 15th century. Actually many of the fundamental ideas that underlie modern accounting may be traced much further back. The Bible, which is generally viewed as covering events be-tween 1800 B.C. and 95 A.D., contains several references, both direct and indirect, to accounting and basic accounting concepts. In particular, it discusses financial accounting, internal control, and management accounting. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the Bible's relationship to accounting thought.1
One of the major purposes of accounting is to monitor the per-formance of management. In addition, accounting serves the pur-pose of insuring that the accounting entity is not defrauded either by its agents or by outsiders. The Bible discusses this in a negative way in 2 Kings 12:16 which says about the building of the Temple:
"No accounts were kept with the men to whom the money was paid over to be spent on workmen since they were honest in their dealings."
This is virtually repeated in 2 Kings 22:7. We can infer from this that accounts would have been kept if the contractors were less than honest. Thus the Bible points out that accounting is neces-sary to reduce fraud.
The Bible also provides the motive for monitoring agents. In the New Testament there is a parable about a steward. In the parable the owner hears that his steward is wasting money and in Luke 16:2 says:
The author appreciates the comments of C. Hagerman and R. Huefner.