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The Marketplace of Christianity Paperback – September 26, 2008


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The Marketplace of Christianity + Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm + A History of the Church in the Middle Ages
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262550717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262550710
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking a page from 18th-century economic theorist Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, the authors (all economists) provocatively develop an economic theory of religion, especially Christianity. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church had established a monopoly and controlled the market of belief, not allowing for competition to fulfill the demand of disparate believers. The Protestant Reformation introduced competition to the religion market, so Christians for the first time could determine which "product" (Catholicism or Protestantism) was most beneficial to them. The Catholic Counter-Reformation, in turn, introduced "product differentiation" as manifested in the development of doctrinal differences. For example, from the rituals of the Eucharist sacrament, Christians could choose either the real blood and body of Christ (Catholic) or the symbolic blood and body of Christ (Lutheran). The advent of denominationalism in the 19th century simply opened the free market of religion even more. Although the book requires some familiarity with economics, the authors supply a helpful glossary that briefly explains the more difficult terms. The authors' controversial ideas are sure to arouse some debate about the nature of the Christian religion. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Consistently insightful and provocative, The Marketplace of Christianity demonstrates the catholicity of the economic model of rational human behavior by applying it to the consumers and suppliers of religious beliefs. Illuminating the history of the Church and the evolution of its central doctrines from the Reformation to modern times, Ekelund, Hébert, and Tollison make an original and important contribution to the literature of the social sciences, one that is accessible to economists and noneconomists alike." William F. Shughart II, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Economics and holder of the Robert M. Hearin Chair, University of Mississippi



"Consistently insightful and provocative, *The Marketplace of Christianity* demonstrates the catholicity of the economic model of rational human behavior by applying it to the consumers and suppliers of religious beliefs. Illuminating the history of the Church and the evolution of its central doctrines from the Reformation to modern times, Ekelund, Hebert and Tollison make an original and important contribution to the literature of the social sciences, one that is accessible to economists and noneconomists alike."--William F. Shughart, II, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor of Economics and holder of the Robert M. Hearin Chair, University of Mississippi


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Hartwell on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a PhD economist specializing in institutional economics (and a Catholic), I found this book's take on the economic roots of the Protestant Reformation, especially when viewed in an explicitly economic framework, to be incredibly interesting. All throughout my reading, I was impressed with the rigor by which the authors approached their subject, and their dispassionate approach to religion itself and religious doctrine in favor of economic analysis. Indeed, I didn't want this book to end, it was such a breath of fresh air. Particulars highlights for me included the wholesale/retail distinction on the Counter-reformation, as well as really setting the Catholic Church into the framework of both a monopolist and an ossified bureaucracy, and how that affected outputs. If anything, I really wished the book had gone more into an institutional analysis of the Catholic Church (although this may be done in their other books) and how large and complex bureaucracies tend towards stifling freedom and focusing on self-preservation rather than fostering innovation. The first chapters of this book are a delight to read.

Until you get to the last chapter. Then, the economic analysis that the authors have carefully and methodically built up gets tossed out the window and all their anti-Catholic biases are revealed. While the last chapter purports to show how their economic framework could be applied to various issues affecting Christian denominations today, the chapter instead settles into a series of glib and flippant remarks about the apparent neanderthal attributes of religion vis a vis science, with a dash of low education = high religiosity correlation thrown in.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Thornton on November 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Brady's review is a hack job. Everything I know about the book and its authors are completely at odds with what the reviewer has to say. Anarchists??? The reviewer concentrates on one "flaw" in the book -- usury, but usury was addressed in the authors previous book /Sacred Trust/, not the /Marketplace for Christianity/.

I predict that Marketplace will be a classic in that it uses basic rationale behaviour to lend the reader understanding of religion and how it bears on current and historical religious phenomenon.

The book is being translated into Italian and I would not be surprised if that wasn't an idea that originated in the Vatican.
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on May 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is the result of a continuing project of libertarian, anarchist economists to apply economic analysis,primarily microeconomic analysis based on the standard theory of the firm-industry(monopoly,oligopoly,pure(perfect)competition,monopolistic competition,product differentiation,rent seeking, strategy,game theory,etc.),to the Medieval-Counter Reformation Catholic Church and the various Protestant Sects that evolved out of the split that occurred early in the 16th century. There are a large number of errors of omission and commission contained in this book.I will concentrate on one of these-the author's theoretical treatment of usury and usury laws.None of the authors of this book accepts the fundamental point that uncertainty and risk are completely different environments facing decision makers who have to invest in the present in order to deal with their future need to obtain the most up to date physical capital goods that are subject to both decay and obsolescence due to technological advance and change.Both Adam Smith(1776,Wealth of Nations,Modern Library,Canaan edition,pp.338-340) and John Maynard Keynes (General Theory,1936,pp.351-352) realized the very important difference between uncertainty and risk.This distinction lies at the heart of the Catholic Church's approach to the rate of interest .Keynes gives a good summary of the Catholic Church's sound understanding of why conditions of uncertainty required usury laws if economic growth and advance were to be accomplished in an environment of uncertainty.The authors of this book still don't get it : " I was brought up to believe that the attitude of the Medieval Church to the rate of interest was inherently absurd...Read more ›
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