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Was just in a meeting where someone used the phrase "robbing Peter to… 
12th-Mar-2013 08:49 am
Was just in a meeting where someone used the phrase "robbing Peter to pay Paul", and then immediately amended that to "borrowing from Ganesh to pay Shiva." Which, as far as I can tell, doesn't seem to be an expression in general use. Did make me wonder if there are any common idioms for this concept that aren't based in a Christian context.
12th-Mar-2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
Is "robbing Peter to pay Paul" any coherent reference to the Christian figures in question? I figured it was using those names because they alliterate, and that "robbing Jacob to pay Joe" would have the same effect. Is it really about not paying attention to the structural church in favor of theoretical theology? I had not thought so, but if someone else knows more, I will be interested to hear.
12th-Mar-2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
That's actually a complicated question - it seems to be popular to attribute the origins of the phrase to taxes or tithes paid to support St. Peter's and St. Paul's churches, but this page (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/rob-peter-to-pay-paul.html) suggests that the phrase was in use earlier than that etymology implies.

It's interesting that the French version of the phrase ("Decouvrir Saint Pierre pour couvrir Saint Paul") does make the Christian context clear. I still don't know whether it was ever intended to convey the structural/theoretical conflict that you suggest.
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