Devin Singh

Social theorist / religion scholar / critical visionary

“Devin Singh’s work is ground-breaking, erudite, and a pleasure to read. It forces us to reread the history of Christianity in a new and wholly unexpected way, and in so doing sheds fresh light on the modern world and our contemporary situation. His intervention has the potential to reorient the field of political theology and the increasingly urgent investigations into the genealogy of modern economic concepts. Singh’s work is scandalous in the best and most productive possible ways.”  

          —Adam Kotsko, North Central College

"Devin Singh probes the true meaning of divine economy, revealing the centrality of economic thinking to the formation of Christian theology. His book is a welcome and timely addition to recent scholarship in religious as well as finance studies, and with far-reaching consequences."

          —Susanna Elm, University of California, Berkeley

"Singh’s illuminating study shows the power of economic discourse to shape theology, while also demonstrating that one of the reasons theology is able to alter economic practice is precisely that it does not stand outside economic thinking."

          —Myles Werntz, Hardin-Simmons University, in Reading Religion

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Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West. Cultural Memory in the Present. Stanford University Press, 2018.

This book demonstrates how economic ideas structured early Christian thought and society, giving crucial insight into why money holds such sway in the West. Examining the religious and theological sources of money's power, it shows how early Christian thinkers borrowed ancient notions of money and economic exchange from the Roman Empire as a basis for their new theological arguments. Monetary metaphors and images, including the minting of coins and debt slavery, provided frameworks for theologians to explain what happens in salvation. God became an economic administrator, for instance, and Christ functioned as a currency to purchase humanity's freedom. Such ideas, in turn, provided models for pastors and Christian emperors as they oversaw both resources and people, which led to new economic conceptions of state administration of populations and conferred a godly aura on the use of money. Divine Currency argues that this longstanding association of money with divine activity has contributed over the centuries to an ever increasing significance of money, justifying various forms of politics that manage citizens along the way. Devin Singh's account sheds unexpected light on why we live in a world where nothing seems immune from the price mechanism.

 

"Divine Currency offers an incisive contribution to the debate about neoliberalism's Christian origins. Devin Singh's bold reading of the sources challenges us to reconsider the relations between theology, politics, and economics."

          —Philip Goodchild, University of Nottingham

“Devin Singh has made an important contribution to the area of political theology. His overall interpretation fills a gap within political theology, namely the relationship between political governance and management, on the one hand, and economic exchange, distribution and redistribution, on the other, that is ultimately tied to a theological concept of the ‘just sovereign.’”

          —Hille Haker, Loyola University Chicago

Divine Currency is an intriguing work in religious and cultural studies that challenges much of the work done in theology and economics suggesting that it failed to attend to how the two central mysteries of the Christian faith, the Trinity and incarnation, are implicated both in ancient and modern Western economic dominance…..The strength of Singh’s work is his historical attention to the use of economic metaphors in the development of Christian doctrine.”

—D. Stephen Long, Southern Methodist University, in Marginalia: Los Angeles Review of Books

“From now on, all projects attempting to engage issues of religion and economics need to go through Singh’s book.”

—J. Kameron Carter, Indiana University

“Today, it has certainly become necessary to ask: How to write about money after Devin Singh?”

—Gil Anidjar, Columbia University

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For further reading:

Articles:

Devin Singh's scholarly work has appeared in journals such as the Harvard Theological Review, Implicit Religion, Political Theology, Journal of Religious Ethics, and Studia Patristica. Most of these are available for access at his Academia.edu site.

Singh's popular writing has appeared in Time, The Huffington Post, LA Review of Books, and Patheos.