Rational Religion : Economic Patterns in Biblical Thought

2016-04-12T09:06:27Z (GMT) by Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto
The paper addresses the call for a concept of ‘rational religion’, as early on identified by Smith. To do so, the article returns to the very origins and foundations of religion, especially Judaism and Christianity: the biblical text itself. By tracing in institutional and constitutional economic terms economic patterns to biblical thought, especially so to the oldest and best-known stories of the Torah, the thesis of a rational economic structure of the biblical text can be advanced. In this way the actual nature and substance of religion is conceptualised in economic terms. The paper questions in this respect the dualistic conception of ancient ethics, the way it is conventionally derived by biblical and theological research from the Old Testament, and the widespread assumption that it will be radically different from modern ethics (‘economics as ethics’) in the tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment. I even contest the explicit claims of Smith or modern institutional economists like Buchanan in this regard that a concept of rational religion or ‘modern ethics’ necessarily is or had to be completely separated from the Bible. On the basis of these arguments, the paper outlines why (Old Testament-based) religion still has and could have a persistent and pervasive influence in contemporary, capitalist society. An institutional economic theory of religion is set out.