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The Market as God

The Market as God

Harvey Cox

ISBN 9780674659681

Publication date: 09/12/2016

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The Market has deified itself, according to Harvey Cox’s brilliant exegesis. And all of the world’s problems—widening inequality, a rapidly warming planet, the injustices of global poverty—are consequently harder to solve. Only by tracing how the Market reached its “divine” status can we hope to restore it to its proper place as servant of humanity.

The Market as God captures how our world has fallen in thrall to the business theology of supply and demand. According to its acolytes, the Market is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It knows the value of everything, and determines the outcome of every transaction; it can raise nations and ruin households, and nothing escapes its reductionist commodification. The Market comes complete with its own doctrines, prophets, and evangelical zeal to convert the world to its way of life. Cox brings that theology out of the shadows, demonstrating that the way the world economy operates is neither natural nor inevitable but shaped by a global system of values and symbols that can be best understood as a religion.

Drawing on biblical sources, economists and financial experts, prehistoric religions, Greek mythology, historical patterns, and the work of natural and social scientists, Cox points to many parallels between the development of Christianity and the Market economy. At various times in history, both have garnered enormous wealth and displayed pompous behavior. Both have experienced the corruption of power. However, what the religious have learned over the millennia, sometimes at great cost, still eludes the Market faithful: humility.


  • Through an astonishingly productive lifetime, Harvey Cox has always been alive to the most important movements of the spirit in our culture. His observations on the deification of the market and his ingenious sense of how market theology has developed a scripture, a liturgy, and sophisticated apologetics allow us to see old challenges in a remarkably fresh light. Like so many of the market’s critics, he’s also trying to redeem it so that it might serve its proper ends. An essential and thoroughly engaging book.

    —E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong


  • Harvey Cox is Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press