Faith & Economics
Number 73 Spring 2019
Markets and Prophets: An Examination of the Silver Hypothesis
John Lunn and Barry Bandstra
Abstract: We examine a hypothesis by the economic historian, Morris Silver, concerning the role of the prophets in Ancient Israel. Based on a model he developed earlier, Silver speculates that the Hebrew prophets such as Amos and Isaiah were heeded by the government, there was land reform and a movement away from international trade and specialization. The result was a weaker economy and ultimately the destruction of both Israel and Judah as independent nations. Silver utilizes a model he developed relating affluence and altruism, leading to government attempts to benefit the poor. However, the actions only weakened the economy and made the poor worse off. We examine the Hebrew Scriptures, archaeological data and the work of biblical scholars to determine whether Silver’s hypothesis can be supported or refuted. We also examine the model he used as well as other models used by biblical scholars, and argue the models are being used to create data and facts rather than let data support or refute hypotheses.
Key Words: Ancient Israel; altruism; biblical prophets; social science models
The Cost of Being Faithful: What do Farmers Give Up to Keep the Sabbath?
Britney Rosburg, Terry W. Griffin, and Brian Coffey
Abstract: Judeo-Christian beliefs and tradition include observing a Sabbath, or day of rest, by abstaining from work one day each week. In modern times, followers of the Jewish faith mark the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening and Christians do so on Sunday. For both groups, this practice is firmly entrenched to the point that many contend that working on Sunday is morally wrong. For many Christian workers in the United States, this practice often fits with their work schedule as Saturday and Sunday are typical days off doe many schools, government organizations, and businesses. There are exceptions to this and farmers are one of the most obvious. The demands of managing a farm do not conform to uniform weekly work schedules. To meet labor requirements, many Americans family farms rely upon unpaid family labor to perform tasks such as conducting field operations. Reliance on unpaid labor is becoming more prevalent due to lack of available laborers in many locations in the United States. A whole-farm linear programming model was parameterized as a limited resource Midwestern USA crop-producing farm. Model results estimate the costs of shutting down farm operations for differing levels of Sabbath observation across peak and non-peak seasonal time periods. Results indicate substantial costs are likely to occur, indicating that Sabbath-observing farm operators must perceive at least a base level of perceived benefits. These results are of interest to multi-generational farms attempting to balance work-life issues, researchers evaluating economics of religion, and rural development labor economists studying impacts of decaying populations on rural communities.
Keywords: whole-farm planning; limited resource farms; labor; religion; network; community
The Language of Utilitarianism in Economics and the Public Square
Moral Tribes and Moral Concerns in Public Policy
Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism
Art Lindsley and Anne Bradley
Reviewed by Roger B. Conover
Return to Order
John Horvat II
Reviewed by Kristen Cooper
The Tyranny of Metrics
Jerry Z. Muller
Reviewed by Jamin Hübner
Why Liberalism Failed
Reviewed by Steven McMullen