Poverty in the Roman World
If poor individuals have always been with us, societies have not always seen the poor as a distinct social group. But within the Roman world, from at least the Late Republic onwards, the poor were an important force in social and political life and how to treat the poor was a topic of philosophical as well as political discussion. This book explains what poverty meant in antiquity, and why the poor came to be an important group in the Roman world, and it explores the issues which poverty and the poor raised for Roman society and for Roman writers. In essays which range widely in space and time across the whole Roman Empire, the contributors address both the reality and the representation of poverty, and examine the impact which Christianity had upon attitudes towards and treatment of the poor.
Remember the Poor
Combining historical, exegetical, and theological interests, Bruce Longenecker here dispels the widespread notion that Paul had little or no concern for the poor. Longnecker s analysis of Greco-Roman poverty provides the backdrop for a compelling presentation of the importance of care for the poor within Paul s theology and the Jesus-groups he had established. Along the way, Longenecker calls into question a variety of interpretive paradigms such as Steven J. Friesen s 2004 poverty scale and offers a fresh vision in which Paul s theological resources are shown to be both historically significant and theologically challenging.
Preaching Poverty in Late Antiquity
In 2002 the influential scholar of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown, published a series of lectures as a monograph titled Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire. Brown set out to explain a trend in the late Roman world observed in the 1970s by French social and economic historians, especially Paul Veyne and Evelyn Patlagean, namely that prior to the fourth century and the rise in dominance of Christianity, the poor in society went unrecognized as an economic category. This corresponded with the Greco-Roman understanding of patronage, whereby the state and private donors concentrated their largesse upon the citizen body. Non-citizens, for instance, were excluded from the dole system, in which grain was distributed to citizens of a city regardless of their economic status. By the end of the sixth century, rich and poor were not only recognized economic categories, but the largesse of private citizens was now focused on the poor. Brown proposed that the Christian bishop lay at the heart of this change. The authors set out to test Brown's thesis amid growing interest in the poor and their role in early Christianity and in Late Antique society. They find that the development and its causes were more subtle and complex than Brown proposed and that his account is inadequate on a number of crucial points including rhetorical distortion of the realities of poverty in episcopal letters, homilies and hagiography, the episcopal emphasis on discriminate giving and self-interested giving, and the degree to which existing civic patronage structures adhered in the Later Roman Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries.
Why Nations Fail
Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine? Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence? Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories. Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including: - China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West? - Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority? - What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions? Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world.
Through the Eye of a Needle
Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world's foremost scholar of late antiquity. Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven. Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity's growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.
Paul and Economics
The social context of Paul’s mission and congregations has been the study of intense investigation for decades, but only in recent years have questions of economic realities and the relationship between rich and poor come to the forefront. In Paul and Economics, leading scholars address a variety of topics in contemporary discussion, including an overview of the Roman economy; the economic profile of Paul and of his communities, and stratification within them; architectural considerations regarding where they met; food and drink; idol meat and the Lord’s Supper; material conditions of urban poverty; patronage; slavery; travel; gender and status; the collection for Jerusalem; and the role of Marxist theory and the question of political economy in Paul scholarship.
Work Labour and Professions in the Roman World
Work, Labour, and Professions in the Roman World offers new insights, ideas and interpretations on the role of labour and human resources in the Roman economy. The book approaches labour not only as an economic phenomenon, but gives attention also to work as social and cultural phenomenon.
Christianity in the Greco Roman World
Background becomes foreground in Moyer Hubbard's creative introduction to the social and historical setting for the letters of the Apostle Paul to churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Hubbard begins each major section with a brief narrative featuring a fictional character in one of the great cities of that era. Then he elaborates on various aspects of the cultural setting related to each particular vignette, discussing the implications of those venues for understanding Paul's letters and applying their message to our lives today. Addressing a wide array of cultural and traditional issues, Hubbard discusses: • religion and superstition • education, philosophy, and oratory • urban society • households and family life in the Greco-Roman world This work is based on the premise that the better one understands the historical and social context in which the New Testament (and Paul's letters) was written, the better one will understand the writings of the New Testament themselves. Passages become clearer, metaphors deciphered, and images sharpened. Teachers, students, and laypeople alike will appreciate Hubbard's unique, illuminating, and well-researched approach to the world of the early church.