Through the Eye of a Needle

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-08-13
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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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 Needleis 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 Needlechallenges 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.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. xv
List of Illustrationsp. xvii
Prefacep. xix
Wealth, Christianity, and Giving at the End of an Ancient Worldp. 1
Aurea aetas
Wealth in an Age of Goldp. 3
The Social Profile of the Latin Church, 312-CA. 370p. 31
Amor civicus Love of the city
Wealth and its Uses in an Ancient Worldp. 53
"Treasure in Heaven"
Wealth in the Christian Churchp. 72
An Age of Affluencep. 91
Being Noble in Fourth-Century Romep. 93
Avidus civicae gratiae Greedy for the good favor of the city
Symmachus and the People of Romep. 110
Ambrose and His Peoplep. 120
"Avarice, the Root of All Evil"
Ambrose and Northern Italyp. 135
Augustine Spes saeculi
Careerism, Patronage and Religious Bonding, 354-384p. 148
From Milan to Hippo
Augustine and the Making of a Religious Community, 384-396p. 161
"The Life in Common of a Kind of Divine and Heavenly Republic" Augustine on Public and Private in a Monastic Communityp. 173
Ista vero saecularia Those things, indeed, of the world
Ausonius, Villas, and the Language of Wealthp. 185
Ex opulentissimo divite From being rich as rich can be
Paulinus of Nola and the Renunciation of Wealth, 389-395p. 208
Commercium spiritale The spiritual Exchange
Paulinus of Nola and the Poetry of Wealth, 395-408p. 224
Propter magnificentiam urbis Romae By reason of the magnificence of the city of Rome
The Roman Rich and their Clergy, from Constantine to Damasus, 312-384p. 241
"To Sing the LordÆs Song in a Strange Land"
Jerome in Rome, 381-385p. 259
Between Rome and Jerusalem
Women, Patronage, and Learning, 385-412p. 273
An Age of Crisisp. 289
"The Eye of a Needle" and "The Treasure of the Soul"
Renunciation, Nobility, and the Sack of Rome, 405-413p. 291
Tolle divitem Take away the rich
The Pelagian Criticism of Wealthp. 308
Augustine's Africa
People and Churchp. 321
"Dialogues with the Crowd"
The Rich, the People, and the City in the Sermons of Augustinep. 339
Dimitte nobis debita nostra Forgive us our sins
Augustine, Wealth, and Pelagianism, 411-417p. 359
"Out of Africa" Wealth, Power, and the Churches, 415-430p. 369
"Still at That Time a More Affluent Empire"
The Crisis of the West in the Fifth Centuryp. 385
Aftermathsp. 409
Among the Saints
Marseilles, Arles, and Lérins, 400-440p. 411
Romana respublica vel iam mortua With the empire now dead and gone
Salvian and his Gaul, 420-450p. 433
Ob Italiae securitatem For the security of Italy
Rome and Italy, CA. 430-CA. 530p. 454
Toward Another Worldp. 479
Patrimonia pauperum Patrimonies of the poor
Wealth and Conflict in the Churches of the Sixth Centuryp. 481
Servator fidei, patriaeque semper amator Guardian of the Faith, and always lover of [his] homeland
Wealth and Piety in the Sixth Centuryp. 503
Conclusionp. 527
Abbreviationsp. 531
Notesp. 533
Works Cited
Primary Sourcesp. 641
Secondary Sourcesp. 654
Indexp. 719
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