CFC Lecture

Sandra Richter: What’s Money Got to Do with It? Economics and the Provenance of Deuteronomy

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On October 3, The Society for Women in Scholarship, the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, and the Kingdom Diversity Initiative hosted Dr. Sandra Richter of Westmont College for the fourth annual Evangelical Voices in the Academy lecture.

Dr. Richter is the Robert H. Gundry Chair of Biblical Studies at Westmont College. She earned her PhD from Harvard University and her MA from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She has taught at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wesley Biblical Seminary, and Wheaton College. She is known for her work on the “name theology” of the Deuteronomistic History and a socio-historical assessment of the economic backdrop of the Book of Deuteronomy, and she has published two books entitled The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament (IVP, 2008) and Stewards of Eden: What the Scripture has to Say about Environmentalism and Why It Matters (IVP, 2020). She also has forthcoming commentary on the book of Deuteronomy with Eerdmans. 

Dr. Richter taught on her research on economics and the provenance of Deuteronomy. Afterwards, the audience engaged in a lively question and answer discussion.

Watch her lecture above, and check out these quotes from the talk.


An economic read of the book of Deuteronomy should be instructive regarding the age-old question of the social location of the book.

Excerpts from Dr. Richter’s talk

“My thesis has been that an economic read of the book of Deuteronomy should be instructive regarding the age-old question of the social location of the book.” 

“Whereas the use of precious metal was assumed for trade by at least the 8th century, it is unnamed in the book of Deuteronomy.”

“Deuteronomy’s taxation system was non-monetary and reciprocal, designed in part to cement kinship networks.”

“By approaching the book of Deuteronomy through an economic lens, we have seen that this book assumes a populace living on small family farms in which the main economy is a mixture of pastoralism and the diversified agriculture of crops native to the hill country.”

“If we were to localize this text via the lens of time, the evidence points us to a period astride the Iron I/Iron IIA transition in the central hill country. This is a society that’s moving from the completely utilitarian and subsistence realities of the Iron I into the redistributive realities of the Iron II.”

“A second option is to locate this text via the lens of socio-economic region. […] The dominant economy in a society is not the only economy in a society.”

“The socioeconomic backdrop of the book of Deuteronomy harmonizes best with the national profile of Israel and Judah in that transitional period of the Iron I/IIA.”

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Rebecca Hankins

Rebecca Hankins is a photographer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from SEBTS. She enjoys serving on the leadership team for the Society for Women in Scholarship at SEBTS and is a member of the Summit Church. After completing further study, she hopes to serve the church by doing cross-cultural ministry, teaching, and writing.

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