By Thomas R. Blanton IV – Ancient Jew Review – April 12, 2017
Abbreviated version of a paper delivered at the Early Christianity and the Ancient Economy session; SBL Annual Meeting 2016.
It would seem that the study of “the ancient economy” is in a period of ferment. Three new SBL program units have been added since 2004 that treat aspects of the ancient economy: Early Christianity and the Ancient Economy, Economics in the Biblical World, and Poverty in the Biblical World. In the field of classical studies, the 2008 publication of The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World has effectively ushered in a post-Finleyan era in the study of Greco-Roman economies by incorporating methods developed in the field of New Institutional Economics. In what follows, we examine representative samples of three emergent methodological trends: (1) the turn toward New Institutional Economics in studies of Greece and Rome; (2) Roland Boer’s model of the economy of ancient Israel; and (3) K. C. Hanson and Douglas Oakman’s social-scientific approach in New Testament studies. These models differ significantly from each other and are drawn from what are often treated as three distinct fields: classics, Hebrew Bible, and New Testament studies. It is precisely the differences between the models that are most illuminating, however, and juxtaposing them quickly reveals the emphases—and omissions—that are specific to and that characterize each model.
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