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CHTH235 Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets

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This paper explores what the Christian theological tradition offers to economic questions and reflects on its relevance for the future evolution of global capitalism.

This paper will critically explore how a theological perspective can shed new light on issues relating to markets, capitalism, consumerism, wealth, poverty, inequality and growth.  Drawing upon a wide range of resources, including the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures, historical and contemporary writings of theologians, church reports and Catholic social teaching, the paper will explore important moral and ethical considerations concerning the influence and operation of markets and in particular, the functioning of these markets within the prevailing global capitalistic paradigm.  Originally taught in January 2013, soon after the full impacts of the Global Financial Crisis began to be felt in Aotearoa New Zealand, this ‘resurrected’ paper will be particularly relevant in 2021 (and beyond) as the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 and climate change, in threatening the stability of the status quo political-economic paradigm, offers opportunities for new and alternative economic thinking and practices. 

Paper title Special Topic: Theology, Money and Markets
Paper code CHTH235
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (Distance learning)
Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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36 100-level points
CHTH 334, CHTX 334
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
May not be credited together with CHTH335 taken in 2021

Dr Andrew Shepherd

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Dr Andrew Shepherd

Paper Structure

Topics covered will include:

Module 1 – Historical Reflections

  • Session 1: Theology and Economics – an introduction
  • Session 2: The Bible and Economics – Torah and the Prophets
  • Session 3: The Bible and Economics – Jesus and the Gospels; The Early Church and the New Testament 
  • Session 4: Historical Theology – Early Church Fathers, Medieval Period and the Reformation
  • Sessions 5: Historical Theology – The Rise of Capitalism and the ‘Acquisitive Society’ 

Module 2 – Contemporary Challenges

  • Session 6: The Total Economy’: Global Capitalism and its (Dis)contents
  • Session 7: A Pound of Flesh’: Credit-Interest-Debt
  • Session 8: Fractured Societies: Inequality and its Implications
  • Session 9: A Sick Planet: Climate Change & Ecological Limits
  • Session 10: Surveillance Capitalism: Technology & Commodification

Module 3 – Responses

  • Session 11: Democratising and Reforming Institutions
  • Session 12: The Church as Alternative Economy


  • Online discussions (20%)
  • Creative Biblical-Theological Apologetic (30%)
  • Research Essay (50%)
Teaching Arrangements

This is a distance-taught paper.  Wellington-based students will be able to join the lecture at the Anglican Centre; Dunedin students can meet in one of the AV suites on campus.  Students elsewhere can join the videoconferences via Zoom.


There is no compulsory textbook for this paper.

Course outline

View the latest course outline

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students completing this paper will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of how key biblical motifs can relate to contemporary economic discourse.

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the contribution made to economic ethical concerns by selected Christian writers.

3. Outline a theological ethical framework for engaging with economic concerns.

4. Offer a critical and creative theological analysis of a contemporary economic concern/issue.

5. Demonstrate analytical, interpretative and critical skills by engagement with scholarly texts.

6. Demonstrate research skills.

7. Demonstrate written and oral communication skills.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 15:00-16:50 9-13, 15-22