Idols of Nations: Biblical Myth at the Origins of Capitalism, published by Fortress press, should be out any day now (here and here).

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So in yet another moment of shameless promotion, a few endorsements:

A fascinating study unearthing the biblical elements that unexpectedly underpin the classic apologias for capitalism from Grotius to Malthus and Adam Smith, with reference to the Fall, original sin, predestination and freedom, all deeper narratives that sometimes even unconsciously seem to legitimize the emergence of this new and incomprehensible system.

Fredric Jameson, Duke University

The early philosophical promoters of capitalism as an ideology had a profound interest in theological questions. This is the first detailed study of the intersection between their philosophies, economic theories, and theological convictions. Boer and Petterson have given us a simply indispensable text.

Kenneth J. Surin, Duke University

Nicely done, fucking great etc. Very interesting stuff (and Adam Smith is madder than I thought, though I will be retelling the fable of the dogs to explain human society, commerce and exchange). What was particularly striking was the use of the Fall and Genesis … Anyway, it is a great book and I reckon you’ve got a topic here of central importance in the Bible and the development of capitalism. Piss off.

Sorry: the cleaned-up version will appear on the book:

In Idols of Nations, Roland Boer and Christina Petterson have produced a superbly argued book, which will be of central importance to anyone wishing to understand the interaction between the use of the Bible, theology and religion, and economics. They expertly show how discussion of the Fall casts a long shadow over the emergence of capitalism and related issues of liberalism and ethnocentrism, all of which persist in economic thinking to this day. Enjoyable, provocative, and learned.

James Crossley, University of Sheffield

Table of Contents:



Chapter 1: Hugo Grotius: Rewriting the Narrative of the Fall

Chapter 2: John Locke and the Trouble with Adam

Chapter 3: Adam Smith the StoryTeller

Chapter 4: The Lust and Hunger of Thomas Malthus



Happened to stumble upon this review of Criticism of Heaven:

What a brilliant, wide-ranging, boundary-scoffing book. Boer rampages through Western Marxist thought for almost 500 pages, dissecting and challenging the theological and Biblical aspects that are part of the approach of these thinkers. Fine. Others have noted such influence. What’s magnificent is that by the end, Boer’s helped you understand these major, fascinating figures more deeply and also inspired you to think about the continued possibilities as we move forward from here to seek to build a better world.

I’m not sure how many people are anxious to read 50-page chunks on the theological/Biblical aspects of Bloch, Benjamin, Althusser, Lefebvre, Gramsci, Eagleton, Zizek, and Adorno. But if you think that might be you, hie thee to your browser and order this delight from Haymarket Books.

It is on Goodreads and has given me a swollen head and rather good feeling for the rest of the day.

The publication of the fifth volume, In the Vale of Tears, means that The Criticism of Heaven and Earth is complete. Ten years in the making, with 2000 pages of text, it deals with Western Marxism and religion. And you can get it as a box set – the ideal Christmas gift. Who could want more for a long summer of reading? Or, if you wish to wait for the paperback of In the Vale of Tears, due out in July, you can get the box set at a much cheaper price from Haymarket Books.

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No sooner is the hardcover of In the Vale of Tears published than the paperback appears. Or rather, the good lefties at Haymarket plan to publish the paperback in June 2014.

The front cover image is already available:

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Volume five of The Criticism of Heaven and Earth series is at last published. In the Vale of Tears: On Marxism and Theology V brings to a close my study of Western Marxism and religion, offering a statement of my own response to that tradition. To my complete surprise and great pleasure, the series has become widely read, commented upon, and even translated into other languages. You might want to wait for either the Haymarket paperback of this book or the free download  that someone will put up soon (they tell me such free downloads actually assist with people buying the book).

Table of Contents (brief):



Of Old Timber and Lovers

On Theology

Relativising Theology

Theological Suspicion


Chapter One: Atheism

Banishing the Gods?

Marxism and Theology

Chapter Two: Myth


Political Myth

Anticipation, or Utopia

For Example …

Chapter Three: Ambivalence

Scandal And Folly

Folly to the Rich

Towards a Marxist Theory of Political Ambivalence

By Way of Conclusion

Chapter Four: History

Method: Search for an Anti-Fulcrum

Paul’s Shaky Transitions

Between the Sacred Economy and Slavery

The Fate of Christian Communism

Chapter Five: Kairós

At the Crossroads of Time



Measure And Immeasure (Negri)

By Way of Conclusion: Political Grace

Chapter Six: Ethics

Ethics, Morality and Moralising

Care of the Self

Greasing the Other

Towards Ethical Insurgency

Chapter Seven: Idols

That Hideous Pagan Idol: Marx and Fetishism        628

On Graven Images: From Liberation Theology to Theodor Adorno

Conclusion: On Secularism, Transcendence and Death

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Some more shameless self-promotion: Equinox has published the paperback version of my Nick Cave: A Study of Love, Death and Apocalypse. And they are offering a 25% discount. Here’s how:

1. log in here.

2. When you get to the appropriate point, add the discount code RBOER.

Voila! Your price will be either £13.49 or $USD 18.71.

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Paul Le Blanc has written this rather nice blurb for Lenin, Religion, and Theology, due out very soon:

In reading this book (which he surely would have done), Lenin himself might have been amused by Boer’s own gift for the outrageously funny, and perhaps offended by an all-too-apt detection of the religious dimensions of his revolutionary perspectives. Modern-day readers will learn much about the Bolshevik ‘god-builders’ against whom Lenin so fiercely polemicized, and about the ironic twists through which latter-day Bolshevik ‘god-builders’ turned this secular revolutionary into a deity.  Boer’s genuine respect for the man and his thought intertwines in fascinating ways with an intimate knowledge of Christian rhetoric and theology, resulting in a fresh, provocative contribution – to intellectual history, religious studies, and Marxist scholarship. — Paul Le Blanc, Professor of History, La Roche College, USA; Author, Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience.

2013 February Marshall Roland


I can say that I am not responsible for this one, but it does feel rather comfortable. I guess it goes with the glowing description of a speech I gave in China last year: ‘a velvet-gloved iron fist’ (David Jasper)

Some more shameless self-promotion: the irrepressible Tripp Fuller – of Homebrewed Christianity - and I did an interview in the quiet corner in Chicago back in November. He’s titled it ‘A guide to being a communist calvinist‘ – not bad, really. The title, I mean.

Now in the urban wasteland of Chicago, where the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature are meeting. Checked more specifically what I had agreed to and came up with the following:

American Academy of Religion

18 November (A18-111)

Bible, Theology, and Postmodernity Group and Bible in Racial, Ethnic, and Indigenous Communities Group

Theme: Race Matters in Political Theology

Tat-siong Benny Liew, Pacific School of Religion, Presiding

Sunday – 9:00 AM-11:30 AM

This panel will address and discuss the question of the role that race has or has not played, as well as how race should or should not play, a role in works on political theology.


Roland Boer, University of Newcastle

Eleazar Fernandez, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Kwok Pui Lan, Episcopal Divinity School

Vincent Lloyd, Syracuse University

Elaine Padilla, New York Theological Seminary

Andrea Smith, University of California, Riverside

Society of Biblical Literature

Poverty in the Biblical World
17 November 2012 (S17-124)

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: W187c – McCormick Place

Theme: Debt and generation of wealth and poverty

Antoinette Wire, San Francisco Theological Seminary, Presiding

Matthew J.M. Coomber, Saint Ambrose University
Debt as Weapon: Generating Poverty and Power in Eighth-Century Judah (20 min)

Marvin Chaney, San Francisco Theological Seminary
Producing Peasant Poverty: Debt Instruments in Amos 2:6b-8, 13-16 (20 min)

Kari Latvus, University of Helsinki
The indebted and the poor in the Deuteronomistic History (20 min)

Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia
What exactly did credit mean in the ancient world? (20 min)

Rainer Kessler, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Respondent (10 min)
Richard Horsley, University of Massachusetts Boston, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (40 min)

Ideology, Culture, and Translation
17 November 2012 (S17 – 224
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: S505b – McCormick Place

Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia, Presiding (1 min)

William John Lyons, University of Bristol
From Golgotha to Glastonbury and Beyond: Translating the Ideology of Jewish Burial Piety into the Ideology of English Imperial Exceptionalism (24 min)

Martin Friis, Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen
Translations, adaptations and transformations of Scripture in Flavius Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (24 min)

Sabine Dievenkorn, Comunidad Teologica Evangelica de Chile
Biblia en lenguaje mas justo. An Objective Critique to Promote a Dream Project (24 min)
Break (5 min)

Anne Katrine Gudme, University of Copenhagen
The Manga Bible: A Clash of Medium and Message? (24 min)

Marlon Winedt, United Bible Societies
The Role of Bible translation in the Formation of Creole Identity: Voices from the Carribean basin (24 min)

James E. Harding, University of Otago
“[W]e the Cornyshe men … utterly refuse thys newe Englysh”: Josiah’s Reform, the Western Rebellion, and the Ideology of Uniformity (24 min)

Ideological Criticism
19 November 102 (S19 – 316)
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Room: N230a – McCormick Place

Theme: Rethinking Ancient Imperialism and Economics

Randall Reed, Appalachian State University, Presiding

Christine Mitchell, St. Andrew’s College – Saskatoon
Bruce Lincoln and/or the Myth of the Benevolent Persians (20 min)

Robert Myles, University of Auckland
Homelessness, neoliberalism, and Jesus’ “decision” to go rogue (20 min)

Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia
Living a Life of Luxury? Subsistence Versus Trade in the Ancient Economy (20 min)
Discussion (30 min)

Business Meeting