Economics and the kingdom of God in the Gospels

My copy of the second edition of Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (edited by Joel Green, Jeannine Brown and Nicholas Perrin) arrived yesterday. There is an article entitled “Economics” by D. Downs. Here is a great quote at the end of the article (page 225).

The issue of economics in the Gospels must also address the extent to which economic values and practices contributed to the social formation of the Jesus movement. If “economics” refers to a system for the production, distribution and consumption of scarce resources, then the Jesus of the canonical Gospels offers a countercultural perspective on the exchange of resources among his followers. Although followers of Jesus may participate in the economy of the Roman Empire (Mk 12:13–17), their ultimate allegiance is to God and not to the power of wealth (Mt 6:24//Lk 16:13). Wealth in the Gospels is often figured as a hindrance to following Jesus (Mt 19:16–22//Mk 10:17–31//Lk 18:18–23; Mk 4:18–19; cf. 1 Jn 2:15–17; Rev 3:14–22), while dispossession of goods sometimes signifies faithful discipleship (Mk 10:28–31; cf. Mt 9:9 …). Believers are called to give generously to those in need (Mt 5:42–48; 6:1–4; 10:8; 19:21; Mk 10:21; Lk 6:30; 11:41; 14:12–14) and not greedily to hoard possessions (Mt 6:19–20; Lk 12:13–21; cf. Mt 23:25//Lk 11:39). Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God “crosses boundaries and challenges paradigms, and in so doing opens a space and a time for new (and renewed) ways of being human-in-relations, that is, for a new ordering of things and persons, a new economy.” (Emphasis added)

Source of the quote at the end is from S Barton, “Money Matters,” in Engaging Economics, edited by B W Longenecker and K D Liebengood (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 57.

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels


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