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Verbum et Ecclesia

On-line version ISSN 2074-7705
Print version ISSN 1609-9982


GREY, Jacqueline N.. Isaiah 5: A prophetic critique of economic proportion. Verbum Eccles. (Online) [online]. 2018, vol.39, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2074-7705.

The text of Isaiah 5 describes a rapidly changing society in 8th-century BCE Judah. This shift is driven by forces such as increased international trade, the clash of urbanisation and agrarianism, and the rise of the urban elites. These changes have direct correlation with the transforming economic environment of that period. Yet scholars have paid little attention to the economic realities reflected in the message of the prophet Isaiah. This article explores the context of Isaiah 5 through an engagement with economic theory. While recognising the dilemmas in the adoption of tools from contemporary economic theory to analyse an ancient society, this article utilises game theory to shed light on the historical and cultural background to the text. By applying the 'prisoner's dilemma' it explores the 'deal' being offered by the prophet to the Judahite leaders in Isaiah 5: 8-24. In particular, the article looks at rational choice and the self-interested basis of decision-making to draw insights from the text by highlighting the conflicts of interest for the wealthy elite of Isaiah 5. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This research relates to the disciplines of Old Testament Studies and Economic Theory. The focus is applying economic theory to the biblical text of Isaiah 5.

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