FAITH & ECONOMICS
NUMBER 74, Fall 2019
“Ye Cannot Serve God and Mammon”: An Institutional Interpretation of the Gospels
Johns Hopkins University
Abstract: Jesus’ teachings on wealth are arguably some of the most controversial in modern times. This paper will examine these teachings through the lens of institutional economics. First, it will explore the political and economic background of the Greco-Roman world, including the zero-sum mentality of its inhabitants. Second, it will demonstrate how Jesus’ words and deeds suggest that wealth was seen as synonymous with extractive imperial policies. Finally, it will briefly discuss the interpretative implications for modern-day Christians.
Keywords: New Testament, Gospels, Institutions, Jesus, Wealth, Roman Empire, growth, poverty