Economics, Ethics and Religion: Jewish, Christian and Muslim by Rodney Wilson (auth.)

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By Rodney Wilson (auth.)

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If to covet refers to the wish to have the possessions which actually belong to the neighbour, then this could represent a wish to steal, even though theft may not actually occur. Alternatively, it may refer to the desire to have possessions which are the same as the neighbours', in which case the commandment is implying that it is the material desires which result from envy which are sinful, a much broader issue. WEALTH AND POSSESSIONS The Torah does not state that there is any sin in the possession of material goods, indeed they are seen as a blessing.

58 JJ. Spengler, Origins of Economic Thought and Justice, Carbondale, Illinois, 1980, p. xii, cited in Kleiman, Just price', p. 40. 59 Ephraim Kleiman, 'Opportunity cost, human capital and some related concepts in Talmudic literature', History of Political Economy, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1987, p. 262. , p. 263. ' 61 In fact the Talmud goes further, taking into account in the assessment of compensation for injury whether the victim will be able to consume at the same level as before, or at a reduced level due to the injury.

The Talmud provides some interesting insights into the economic thinking of the time, which is worthy of investigation as it anticipates some of the subsequent developments in value theory. There are both parallels and contrasts with the economic thinking of the early Christian fathers, and indeed there appears to have been some debate between them and the Rabbinical scholars in Palestine at the time the Jerusalem Talmud was written. 49 The level of economic analysis by Jewish writers around AD 200 was certainly sophisticated for the age, although Kleiman does not suggest that the economics of the Talmud should be substituted for modern theory, or that it should be applied in Israel or anywhere else.

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