The paradox of value is a classic puzzle in economics. It wonders why necessities are cheap while luxury goods are useless but expensive. Often Adam Smith is cited as the “inventor” of the paradox. Few economists seem to realise that it was voiced by numerous writers before. This article focuses on the Church Fathers, and discusses the role and interpretation of the paradox in their works. It argues that although these “theologians” did not take the analysis of the paradox much further than their philosophical predecessors, they elaborated on the subjectivity of value and price, thus contributing to the genesis of the economic theory of value.

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European Journal of the History of Economic Thought

Hengstmengel, J.W. (2021). The paradox of value in the teaching of the Church Fathers. European Journal of the History of Economic Thought. doi:10.1080/09672567.2021.1877758