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Embedded economics: The irrelevance of Christian fictive domestic economy


  • Bruce Malina


When reading the New Testament, the modern historically-minded interpreter would do well to keep in view that early Christian traditions emerged in the advanced agrarian societies of the first-century, eastern Mediterranean. In these societies, kinship and political institutions, roles, and norms determined economic and religious institutional behavior. That is, religious and economic structures were always embedded in either the kin group or the political group. Hence, to understand the “economic” assumptions and behaviors described in the New Testament, the interpreter must develop scenarios that fit the document’s historical and social context; the alternative is a necessarily anachronistic and ethnocentric reading. This essay articulates some basic perspectives entailed in historically and culturally sensitive interpretations of Old Testament and New Testament passages dealing with “economics”. The methodology employed here is a broadly based “social scientific criticism,” focusing on reading theory and cultural anthropology.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Malina, 1997. "Embedded economics: The irrelevance of Christian fictive domestic economy," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 1-20, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:26:y:1997:i:2:p:1-20
    DOI: 10.1007/BF02770061

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    Cited by:

    1. Ibrahim Abraham, 2011. "Tensions in Christian Financial Ethics: An Historical Overview," Chapters,in: The Foundations of Islamic Banking, chapter 13 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Arnold McKee, 1998. "A rejoinder to Malina on biblical economics," Forum for Social Economics, Springer;The Association for Social Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 61-65, March.

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