Biblical Economics and Order Ethics: Constitutional Economic and Institutional Economic Roots of the Old Testament

  • Sigmund Wagner-TsukamotoEmail author


Order ethics emerged in the first half of the 20th century in the German-speaking world. It shares many conceptual parallels with constitutional and institutional economics, as pioneered by Buchanan, North, Ostrom or Williamson in the second half of 20th-century USA. The article draws on such conceptual parallels to set out how concepts of order ethics, through the identification of institutional and constitutional economic principles, can be utilized and reconstructed within the Old Testament text. The chapter demonstrates that a high level of success has been attained. Conceptual ideas like dilemma structure, the homo economicus, interactions over capital exchange, institutional rule structures, and mutual gains as interaction outcome, as they delineate constitutional and institutional economics, can be identified in the Old Testament. I focus on the Torah, specifically the Paradise story, the Jacob stories, the Joseph stories, the stories of the exodus events, and the stories of the settlement phase, when the Israelites were led by Joshua, Saul, David and Solomon. These stories belong to the oldest and best-known parts of the Old Testament.


Order ethics Institutional/constitutional economics Old testament text Dilemma structure Homo economicus Incentive structures Mutual gains 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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