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Old Testament Essays

versão On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versão impressa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.25 no.3 Pretoria  2012


After the theft: Natural distribution states and prisoner's dilemmas in the paradise story1



Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto

School of Management, University of Leicester, UK





The article identifies economic structures for the paradise story which Buchanan's constitutional economics termed "natural distribution states" and escalating prisoner's dilemma (PD) games. I constructed game matrices for God's and Adam & Eve's decisions to respect or not to respect the rights of the other party. For Adam and Eve, the matrices specify decisions regarding theft from the "divine" trees. For God, punishment options in reaction to Adam and Eve's theft are paid special attention to. As regards how storytelling was set up at the outset of the OT, the article shows that the paradise story avoided a "game over" scenario in which Adam and Eve either were killed or were elevated to become gods themselves. In as much as a natural distribution state (even a PD outcome) prevailed as a result of these paradise interactions, I argue that this heuristically set up further storytelling about fairer social contracting between God and humans in the OT



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Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto
School of Management, University of Leicester, University Road
Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.
Email: or



1 The article was presented as a paper at the Religion and Capitalism Conference, University of Vienna, Austria, 17-19 November 2011. The revision of the paper greatly benefited from feedback of conference participants, as well as from referees of Old Testament Essays.

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