Poverty in the Early Church and Today: A Conversation

Poverty in the Early Church and Today: A Conversation September 22, 2019

Check out the great book Poverty in the Early Church and Today: A Conversation edited by Steve Walton and Hannah Swithinbank (London: T&T Clark, 2019).

It is thankfully available on-line as a PDF,  so it will be available to those who cannot afford the $115 price tag for the commercial copy (only available as an ebook on kindle as far as I can tell). Talk about a cast of all-stars writing on great topics. The TOC looks amazing:

1 Two Concepts of Poverty: A Theological Analysis Justin Thacker
2 Poverty and Its Causes in the Early Church Lynn H. Cohick
3 Causes of Poverty Today Katie Harrison
4 Response to Lynn H. Cohick Katie Harrison
5 Dream Better Dreams: Response to Katie Harrison Lynn H. Cohick
6 ‘Do Good to All’ (Gal. 6.10): Assets, Capital and Benefaction in Early Christianity Bruce W. Longenecker
7 Benefaction Today? John Coleby
8 Response to Bruce Longenecker John Coleby
9 Response to John Coleby Bruce W. Longenecker
10 Patronage and People: Paul’s Perspective in Philippians Steve Walton
11 Patronage Today Helen Hekel
12 Response to Steve Walton Helen Hekel
13 Response to Helen Hekel Steve Walton
14 Paul and the Gift to Jerusalem: Overcoming the Problems of the Long-Distance Gift John M. G. Barclay
15 Raising Funds in One Place, Giving to Another: Gift Distribution Today Virginia Luckett
16 Response to John Barclay Virginia Luckett
17 Response to Virginia Luckett John M. G. Barclay
18 Wealth and Dehumanization: Ezekiel’s Oracles against Tyre Myrto Theocharous
19 Poverty and Dehumanization Ellie Hughes
20 Response to Myrto Theocharous Ellie Hughes
21 Response to Ellie Hughes Myrto Theocharous
22 The ‘Undeserving Poor’ in the Early Church Fiona J. R. Gregson
23 The ‘Undeserving Poor’ Today: The Rhetoric and Theological Development of a Problematic Category Hannah Swithinbank
24 Response to Fiona Gregson Hannah Swithinbank
25 Response to Hannah Swithinbank Fiona J. R. Gregson
26 The Early Church, the Roman State and Ancient Civil Society: Whose Responsibility Are the Poor? Christopher M. Hays
27 Poverty and the Powers Today Stephen Timms, MP
28 Response to Christopher Hays Stephen Timms, MP
29 Response to Stephen Timms, MP Christopher M. Hays
30 The Poor Will Always Be among You: Poverty, Education and the Catholic Ideal Francis Campbell
Part 2 Responding and Reflecting
31 Review: Responding and Summarizing Craig L. Blomberg
32 Between Today and Yesterday: Evidence, Complexity, Poverty and the ‘Body’ of Christ Francis Davis

From the Preface:

Poverty is one of the most significant challenges our world today faces, and it is a particular challenge for Christians, who follow the Jesus who urges giving to the poor and who includes people in poverty among his highest concerns. The essays in this book offer a fresh angle on debates about poverty by bringing together people who have expertise and experience in alleviating poverty today with people who have expertise in the ancient worlds of the Bible. We bring them together in order to have a conversation about how Christians today might think about and act on poverty issues, informed by the way our ancestors-in-faith responded to poverty in their places and times. We are not simply interested in holding up modern practices to a supposed early Christian example. Rather, we are interested in the complex ways in which the early Christian ideas and practices relate to modern ideas and practices and vice versa. In other words, the conversation in this book aims to address both continuities and discontinuities between the ancient world and today. We are most interested in coming to grips with the full complexity of the matter, in order to inform and engage our readers, whom we hope will include church leaders, people working in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with poverty and thoughtful people, both Christian and not. We designed the book in order to be most beneficial to individuals and organizations currently involved in addressing poverty in its many forms, as a space for critical thought and discussion. Therefore, we ground our thinking in a rigorous study of poverty and its alleviation in both earliest Christianity and today’s world, while presenting the fruit of this study accessibly for those who do not have formal training in these areas.

Also, note where the profits of this book go if you or your library purchase the hard copy:

During the conference, we contributed a portion of the registration fees to Riverside, a local Christian charity which works with single parents in poverty. Ellie Hughes, who writes in this book, was then the Director of Riverside’s ministry. In similar vein, royalties from this book will be split between Tearfund and Caritas (Diocese of Westminster) to support their Christian engagement with people in poverty today.


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