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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 Maps
List of Illustrations
Wealth, Christianity, and Giving at the End of an Ancient World
Wealth in an Age of Gold
The Social Profile of the Latin Church, 312-CA. 370
Amor civicus Love of the city
Wealth and its Uses in an Ancient World
"Treasure in Heaven"
Wealth in the Christian Church
An Age of Affluence
Being Noble in Fourth-Century Rome
Avidus civicae gratiae Greedy for the good favor of the city
Symmachus and the People of Rome
Ambrose and His People
"Avarice, the Root of All Evil"
Ambrose and Northern Italy
Augustine Spes saeculi
Careerism, Patronage and Religious Bonding, 354-384
From Milan to Hippo
Augustine and the Making of a Religious Community, 384-396
"The Life in Common of a Kind of Divine and Heavenly Republic" Augustine on Public and Private in a Monastic Community
Ista vero saecularia Those things, indeed, of the world
Ausonius, Villas, and the Language of Wealth
Ex opulentissimo divite From being rich as rich can be
Paulinus of Nola and the Renunciation of Wealth, 389-395
Commercium spiritale The spiritual Exchange
Paulinus of Nola and the Poetry of Wealth, 395-408
Propter magnificentiam urbis Romae By reason of the magnificence of the city of Rome
The Roman Rich and their Clergy, from Constantine to Damasus, 312-384
"To Sing the LordÆs Song in a Strange Land"
Jerome in Rome, 381-385
Between Rome and Jerusalem
Women, Patronage, and Learning, 385-412
An Age of Crisis
"The Eye of a Needle" and "The Treasure of the Soul"
Renunciation, Nobility, and the Sack of Rome, 405-413
Tolle divitem Take away the rich
The Pelagian Criticism of Wealth
People and Church
"Dialogues with the Crowd"
The Rich, the People, and the City in the Sermons of Augustine
Dimitte nobis debita nostra Forgive us our sins
Augustine, Wealth, and Pelagianism, 411-417
"Out of Africa" Wealth, Power, and the Churches, 415-430
"Still at That Time a More Affluent Empire"
The Crisis of the West in the Fifth Century
Among the Saints
Marseilles, Arles, and Lérins, 400-440
Romana respublica vel iam mortua With the empire now dead and gone
Salvian and his Gaul, 420-450
Ob Italiae securitatem For the security of Italy
Rome and Italy, CA. 430-CA. 530
Toward Another World
Patrimonia pauperum Patrimonies of the poor
Wealth and Conflict in the Churches of the Sixth Century
Servator fidei, patriaeque semper amator Guardian of the Faith, and always lover of [his] homeland
Wealth and Piety in the Sixth Century
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