Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Economic Origins of Roman Christianity

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Economic Origins of Roman Christianity

Article excerpt

Ekelund, Robert ?., Jr., and Robert D.Tollison. Economic Origins of Roman Christianity. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2011. Pp. xiii, 269. $45.00. ISBN 978-0-226-20002-6.)

Through the employment of economic theory and models, the authors, two North American economists, seek to show how the Church of the West in its first millennium functioned similarly to a powerful corporation in offering a valued "product"-the salvation of souls-to an eager market of "buyers" and thereby established a monopoly on the "religion market" in the West. Beside its moral, social, and political goals, the papal corporation, they contend, had economic motives as well, seeking to maximize profits by eliminating competitors and extending its markets. This monopoly eventually was challenged in the sixteenth century by the Protestant Reformation that introduced a successful competition to, and penetration of, the religious market.

Robert B. Ekelund Jr. is emeritus professor of economics at Auburn University, and Robert D. Tollison is professor of economics at Clemson University. Three initial chapters introduce the concept of Roman Christianity as an evolving monopoly, theoretical approaches to the examination of religion, and the economics of religious belief. …

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