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Jesus and the Ratchet

Mario Ferrero ()

Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, 2016, vol. 33, issue 1, 173-195

Abstract: Abstract This paper offers a rational economic reading of the career of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. A simple two-period model shows that Jesus may have been trapped by the incentive to maintain and increase his following, which led him to raise his challenge to ever higher levels and confront an increasingly hostile opposition; in a kind of ratchet mechanism, at each stage stepping back to the previous one was foreclosed and exit was made more and more difficult, leading ultimately to his ominous death. A detailed review of the Gospel evidence, informed by recent historical research, provides good support to the predictions of the model. The approach outlined here is potentially applicable to other prophets and leaders of radical religious or political movements.

Keywords: Economics of religion; Jesus; Christianity; Prophecy; Ratchet mechanism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z12 D74 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics is currently edited by M.J. Holler, M. Kocher and K.K. Sieberg

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Handle: RePEc:spr:homoec:v:33:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s41412-016-0005-4