There is a subset of scholarly literature that asserts that the title of Adam Smith’s famous work, The Wealth of Nations, is an allusion to passages from the Bible, such as Isaiah 60:5. Strong forms of the claim of this relationship between Smith and Scripture argue for a direct reliance of the former upon the latter. Weaker forms of the claim merely raise the possibility of the relationship or point more broadly to the significance and relevance of scriptural passages.

A recent article published by Jordan Ballor sets these claims against the historical context of Smith and his work, finding that the relationship among “the wealth of nations,” Adam Smith, and English translations of the Bible demonstrates that Smith did not, in fact, allude to the passages in Isaiah. Thus, the rise of political economy itself, of which Smith’s work was an important element, was part of the background for, and preceded the appearance of, the phrase in English bibles.

Ballor, Jordan J. “A Biblical Myth at the Origin of Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 39, no. 2 (2017): 223–38. (