Gold, Silver, and Grain: Money and Prices in the Book of Mormon

Title

Gold, Silver, and Grain: Money and Prices in the Book of Mormon

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication

2022

Authors

Takagi, Shinji (Primary)

Pagination

5–30

Volume

61

Issue

2

Terms of use

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Bibliographic Citation

Takagi, Shinji. "Gold, Silver, and Grain: Money and Prices in the Book of Mormon", Vol. 61. 2022:5–30.

Abstract

In this paper, I discuss, from the perspective of a monetary economist, the operational aspects of the system of fixed prices for gold, silver, and all kinds of grain described in the Book of Mormon (Alma 11:3–19), based on internal evidence, economic logic, and historical precedents from antiquity. Previous authors have noted several unique features of the Nephite system, which was purportedly created by king Mosiah in the early first century BC. For example, John Welch, approaching the system strictly as one of weights and measures, argued that, in this otherwise binary system (in which denomination increases by a multiple of 2), the addition of nonbinary denominations (antion for 1.5; limnah and onti for 7) facilitated dealings in fractional weights. Richard Smith, approaching the Nephite 1-2-4-7 system as one of coinage, noted its efficiency in terms of economizing on the number of coins required for a purchase. Irrespective of the intrinsic merits of such arguments, for the purposes of this paper, I instead focus more on how the system might have worked in practice.

Economics
Money
Weights and Measures
Coinage
Nephite Monetary System

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