Today we are making available the first of ten installments to our new online video series for Economics in the Gospels.
Treasure, Gold, and Money
A trillion here, a trillion there, before long that adds up to real money! That is a not too tongue-in-cheek assessment of our current economic situation.
Money was similarly front and center in Roman times and society too. Their interest in controlling their money supply had developed over at least 700 years by Jesus’s time. Add 2,000 years and you have a Federal Reserve and other central banks manipulating and trying to keep our worldwide economic system on an even keel. The Gospel writers do not reference economists, monetary nor fiscal policies, but they had coins.
Gold is an early economic occurrence in the Gospels, and we are still extremely interested in the supply and value of gold today as a cornerstone of the entire worldwide economic system. Many imagine we are still on the gold standard, that there is something backing up the trillions being printed in the proverbial basement of the Fed. But the money we use nowadays is largely paper and bytes with nary a coin from gold nowadays, though it was not that long ago that we did. Paper money in 1st century Jerusalem? Not so much. Imagine Jesus upsetting the table of the credit card issuers?!
All-in-all this first video installment is a great way to kick off our course and I have seen it in action with my students in Kathmandu, who especially love the Q&A with the Ladies from St. Luke’s.
Unfortunately, we start with a fairly long-winded introduction, but it does lay out the background of the study and the economics centered/non-theological context we are going for. The Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Wedding Banquet make it worthwhile I hope. But if not just sneak ahead thirteen minutes or so and you will be ready to go.
All videos in the course follow the study closely which can be found on Amazon by clicking here. To read along we have also posted the corresponding excerpts from the study further on in this blog.
For more information about the course click here.
To view the video click here.
For the study text click here.
Economics in the Gospels Video Course – Introductory Excerpt: Gold, Four Drachma Coins, and the Prodigal Son
One of the study’s first passages describes the gifts, especially gold, to the baby Jesus in Matthew 2:11. Notice the 15 second countdown clock in the bottom righthand corner which gives the class time to read the passage and/or pause the video until done, knowing that the lecture will resume when the clock reaches zero. A bit of commentary and Q&A comes next. In this excerpt we go from “Gold” to the “Four Drachma Coin” to the Prodigal Son parable. To follow along with the study excerpts read more.
Bewildered by economics? Love the Gospels? How about mixing a little modern micro & macro (economics) in with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s?
This study is close to ten years in the making and hopes to help bridge the gap between Jesus the man and his more metaphysical side. Exploring the world as Jesus might have – through His eyes - and lips. Not so much as the Son of God, but rather just a son. Then relating that point of view back to our current times – to our personal lives. It’s amazing how one can see themselves living quite well with just the things (and services, of course) we find there.
As one would expect there are some things missing - like wheeled vehicles for instance. Not a one is found - not a chariot, no wagons, no carts, nothing with a wheel at all. Not surprising when one considers that Jesus generally got around one of two ways that we can see: by boat or by foot (or the occasional colt/donkey).
The study scours the Gospels for economic activity and presents it over 20+ chapters (lots of whitespace) in a quick read that lays out familiar Gospel passages that just happen to be packed with economic references. For instance:
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building…Luke 17:28
The Eco In the Gospels Project (EcoInTheGospels.org)
We’ve been using the study in the classroom at the National Theological College in Nepal since 2016. Teaching economics is generally not a high priority for future clergy so learning through the Gospel passages in a quasi-classroom/-fellowship atmosphere makes it feel like they aren’t learning anything at all! Just reading the Gospels.
The same thing happened with the Ladies of St. Luke’s classes last summer, which were videotaped over two months, and which are the basis for the study’s video course.
We look forward to bringing this new way of examining the world’s most well-known stories, from a fresh lens - a theology infused Econ 101 if you like.
We can use a bit of Zoom fellowship as the course is made available over the coming months, one segment at a time beginning July 12th .
The EITG project includes the following:
The following is an excerpt from a 2014-2015 study I edited while at Yale Divinity School entitled Gospels on Ferguson. Then, as now, trying to say something useful for the discussion related to George Floyd is all too similar to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO in 2014.
If Jesus walked into Ferguson today…
The heavy presence of police and soldiers would have been familiar to Him (Matthew 8:13; Luke 23:36; John 18:12; John 18:18)
The governor as well (Matthew 27:14)
He would have had choice words for the lawyers (Mark 12:38)
And likely the clergy (Luke 19:37-40)
The tools of the riots would have been familiar to Him (John 18:3; Luke 22:49; Mark 14:43)
He might have blessed the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
He might offer troubling predictions (Luke 19:41-44)
He might have preached forgiveness (Matthew 5:39; Matthew 6:14)
He might have told all to love each other (Luke 6:27; Matthew 22:39)
He might have prayed (Matthew 6:5)
He might have told his followers to put their sword back in its place (Matthew 26:52)
He might have talked about a house divided against itself (Matthew 12:25)
He might have said not to Judge (Luke 6:37)
He might have come by boat up the Mississippi then walked the road to Ferguson…
Nov 26, 2014