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Through the eye of a needle [electronic resource] : wealth, the fall of Rome, and the making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD /
Peter Brown.
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2012.
description
xxx, 759 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 25 cm.
ISBN
9780691152905 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2012.
isbn
9780691152905 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8847972
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 641-717) and index.
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Excerpts
Flap Copy
" Through the Eye of a Needle is a masterpiece of detailed historiography, brilliantly written. Peter Brown's long-awaited book surpasses even the high expectations set by his previous writings, and will engage general readers and specialists alike."-- Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation "Here Peter Brown listens to the heartbeat of the late Roman world. His report is a masterpiece that introduces us to the wealth and poverty of an empire as it implodes, and the inspiring Christian concept of treasure in heaven. Excavating the roots of medieval charity, he illuminates the problems of rich and poor today, and delivers a triumph of history at its finest."-- Judith Herrin, author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire "The gap between rich and poor is one of the major issues of today, and who better than Peter Brown to probe the acute problems of conscience it presented to late antique Christians? In this important book, he brings to this vital subject his characteristic wit, wisdom, and humanity, as well as the mature reflection of a great historian. It is a magnificent achievement."-- Averil Cameron, author of The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity: AD 395-700 "Like a master mosaicist, Brown brings together a huge assemblage of sources to produce a vibrant panorama bursting with vitality. His story of the transfer of great wealth from rich individuals and families to the coffers of the church is the story of the creation of the postimperial West and the European Middle Ages. This is a big, and big-hearted, beautiful book. Tolle, lege. "-- Paula Fredriksen, author of Sin: The Early History of an Idea "This is a book that only Peter Brown could write. It has his trademark stamped all over it, in the richness of its source material, its breadth of coverage and turn of phrase, its fondness for the middling folk and outsiders who usually fall by the wayside of academic scholarship, and its insistence on seeing pagans and Christians as part of a larger, shared world."-- H. A. Drake, author of Constantine and the Bishops "Peter Brown has written a book for the ages, one that every specialist throughout the world in late antique history and the history of Christianity will read. Through the Eye of a Needle is a remarkable work of scholarship--interesting, informative, original, and stimulating. I recommend it warmly and confidently."-- Thomas F. X. Noble, author of Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians
Flap Copy
" Through the Eye of a Needle is a masterpiece of detailed historiography, brilliantly written. Peter Brown's long-awaited book surpasses even the high expectations set by his previous writings, and will engage general readers and specialists alike."--Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation "Here Peter Brown listens to the heartbeat of the late Roman world. His report is a masterpiece that introduces us to the wealth and poverty of an empire as it implodes, and the inspiring Christian concept of treasure in heaven. Excavating the roots of medieval charity, he illuminates the problems of rich and poor today, and delivers a triumph of history at its finest."--Judith Herrin, author of Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire "The gap between rich and poor is one of the major issues of today, and who better than Peter Brown to probe the acute problems of conscience it presented to late antique Christians? In this important book, he brings to this vital subject his characteristic wit, wisdom, and humanity, as well as the mature reflection of a great historian. It is a magnificent achievement."--Averil Cameron, author of The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity: AD 395-700 "Like a master mosaicist, Brown brings together a huge assemblage of sources to produce a vibrant panorama bursting with vitality. His story of the transfer of great wealth from rich individuals and families to the coffers of the church is the story of the creation of the postimperial West and the European Middle Ages. This is a big, and big-hearted, beautiful book. Tolle, lege. "--Paula Fredriksen, author of Sin: The Early History of an Idea "This is a book that only Peter Brown could write. It has his trademark stamped all over it, in the richness of its source material, its breadth of coverage and turn of phrase, its fondness for the middling folk and outsiders who usually fall by the wayside of academic scholarship, and its insistence on seeing pagans and Christians as part of a larger, shared world."--H. A. Drake, author of Constantine and the Bishops "Peter Brown has written a book for the ages, one that every specialist throughout the world in late antique history and the history of Christianity will read. Through the Eye of a Needle is a remarkable work of scholarship--interesting, informative, original, and stimulating. I recommend it warmly and confidently."--Thomas F. X. Noble, author of Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians
Flap Copy
" Through the Eye of a Needle is a masterpiece of detailed historiography, brilliantly written. Peter Brown's long-awaited book surpasses even the high expectations set by his previous writings, and will engage general readers and specialists alike."--Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation "Here Peter Brown listens to the heartbeat of the late Roman world. His report is a masterpiece that introduces us to the wealth and poverty of an empire as it implodes, and the inspiring Christian concept of treasure in heaven. Excavating the roots of medieval charity, he illuminates the problems of rich and poor today, and delivers a triumph of history at its finest."--Judith Herrin, King's College London "The gap between rich and poor is one of the major issues of today, and who better than Peter Brown to probe the acute problems of conscience it presented to late antique Christians? In this important book, he brings to this vital subject his characteristic wit, wisdom, and humanity, as well as the mature reflection of a great historian. It is a magnificent achievement."----Averil Cameron, University of Oxford "Like a master mosaicist, Brown brings together a huge assemblage of sources to produce a vibrant panorama bursting with vitality. His story of the transfer of great wealth from rich individuals and families to the coffers of the church is the story of the creation of the postimperial West and the European Middle Ages. This is a big, and big-hearted, beautiful book. Tolle, lege. "--Paula Fredriksen, Boston University "This is a book that only Peter Brown could write. It has his trademark stamped all over it, in the richness of its source material, its breadth of coverage and turn of phrase, its fondness for the middling folk and outsiders who usually fall by the wayside of academic scholarship, and its insistence on seeing pagans and Christians as part of a larger, shared world."--H. A. Drake, author of Constantine and the Bishops "Peter Brown has written a book for the ages, one that every specialist throughout the world in late antique history and the history of Christianity will read. Through the Eye of a Needle is a remarkable work of scholarship--interesting, informative, original, and stimulating. I recommend it warmly and confidently."--Thomas F. X. Noble, author of Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2013-05-01:
Brown (emer., Princeton Univ.), author of The Body and Society (CH, Jul'89, 26-6235) and The Cult of the Saints (CH, May'81), offers a masterful study on how converting to Christianity transformed the ways that economic elites in Europe and North Africa viewed their own wealth's source and purpose. A vivid storyteller, Brown transforms evidence from written, archaeological, and material sources into compelling portraits of early Christian leaders like Ambrose and Augustine. He uses the same skills to produce portraits of elite members of the Roman Empire. This book has many virtues. It does not treat Christianity as a monolithic entity, but is cognizant and responsive to the ways in which it varied by place and changed in emphasis in the first centuries. But Brown also refuses to separate "history of doctrine" from "social history." He shows that early Christian theology did not develop in a vacuum, but was deeply embedded in social contexts and issues. This book will quickly become required reading for students of early Christianity and late ancient history, but others interested in history and theological studies also will find it engaging. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. A. W. Klink Duke University
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2012-08-13:
Drawing on Jesus' exhortation to a rich young man that owning possessions and true discipleship are incompatible, many Christian traditions have stressed renunciation of worldly goods as the only authentic Christian response to wealth. Other Christians, using different passages from the Bible, teach that wealth can result from living a true Christian life, a result guaranteed by prayer for the blessings that God has for each of us. As Brown (Augustine of Hippo), the great dean of early church history, compellingly reminds us in his magisterial, lucid, and gracefully written study, the understanding of the role of wealth in the developing Christian communities of the late Roman Empire was much more complex. Combining brilliant close readings of the writings of Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Paulinus of Nola with detailed examinations of the lives of average wealthy Christians and their responses to questions regarding wealth, he demonstrates that many bishops offered such Christians the compromises of almsgiving, church building, and testamentary bequests as alternatives to the renunciation of wealth. As wealthy Romans and believers of all classes joined Christian churches in the fifth century, the gifts that they had once bestowed on the empire in order to gain fame in this world could now be bestowed upon the church to enable the givers to join an eternal world. Brown's immense, thorough, and powerful study offers rich rewards for readers. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2012-09-15:
Well known for his biography of Augustine of Hippo and his other books on religion in the era of late antiquity,Ã…Brown (history, emeritus, Princeton Univ.) traces in this newest work the establishment of the early Christian Church and its tense, complicated relationship with money in the western Roman Empire. Beginning just after the rule of the first Christian emperor, Constantine, and with extensive references to the lives and writings of major Christian writers, Brown traces the growth of the Church and the evolution of what it meant to be a Christian in this era-in particular, the religion's gradual impact on the social ideas of privilege and philanthropy, and how these ideas affected the people of the empire in ways both material and spiritual. VERDICT The sheer scope of this history is daunting, but scholars, theologians, and anyone interested in late Roman history or early Christianity will find this a fascinating view not only of the Church's development, but also of the changing concepts of wealth and poverty in the last centuries of the Roman empire.--Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
A fascinating book by the great historian of late antiquity, Peter Brown, on the development of Christianity in Rome. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a serious work of scholarship and an important study about how Rome became Christian.
"A fascinating book by the great historian of late antiquity, Peter Brown, on the development of Christianity in Rome. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a serious work of scholarship and an important study about how Rome became Christian."-- John Roskam, Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs
[A]n unprecedented resource. . . . Brown creates broad, deep landscapes in which the reader can watch the ancients moving. You can, in places, just crawl in and have a true dream about the ancient world. Moreover, the topic holds fascinating implications about the formation of modern Western culture. . . . It's a significant and suggestive story.
"[A]n unprecedented resource. . . . Brown creates broad, deep landscapes in which the reader can watch the ancients moving. You can, in places, just crawl in and have a true dream about the ancient world. Moreover, the topic holds fascinating implications about the formation of modern Western culture. . . . It's a significant and suggestive story."-- Sarah Ruden, American Scholar
[A] predictably brilliant re-appraisal of the Roman world during the fourth through sixth centuries. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a vast book, but is remarkably readable. Brown's intimate knowledge of Augustine and his times is presented with human empathy and a sense of the relevance of these long-ago events. . . . [T]he latter chapters of Through the Eye of a Needle contain much essential information about the establishment of Christian influence throughout Europe following Rome's fall.
[A] predictably brilliant re-appraisal of the Roman world during the fourth to sixth centuries. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a vast book, but is remarkably readable. Brown's intimate knowledge of Augustine and his times is presented with human empathy and a sense of the relevance of these long-ago events. . . . [T]he latter chapters of Through the Eye of a Needle contain much essential information about the establishment of Christian influence throughout Europe following Rome's fall. . . . [A] wonderful book.
"[A] predictably brilliant re-appraisal of the Roman world during the fourth to sixth centuries. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a vast book, but is remarkably readable. Brown's intimate knowledge of Augustine and his times is presented with human empathy and a sense of the relevance of these long-ago events. . . . [T]he latter chapters of Through the Eye of a Needle contain much essential information about the establishment of Christian influence throughout Europe following Rome's fall. . . . [A] wonderful book."-- Ed Voves, California Literary Review
As Brown (Augustine of Hippo), the great dean of early church history, compellingly reminds us in his magisterial, lucid, and gracefully written study, the understanding of the role of wealth in the developing Christian communities of the late Roman Empire was much more complex. Combining brilliant close readings of the writings of Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Paulinus of Nola with detailed examinations of the lives of average wealthy Christians and their responses to questions regarding wealth, he demonstrates that many bishops offered such Christians the compromises of almsgiving, church building, and testamentary bequests as alternatives to the renunciation of wealth. . . . Brown's immense, thorough, and powerful study offers rich rewards for readers.
Brown, in this masterful history, makes the writings of Augustine, Ambrose and Jerome more accessible to the average reader, and scholars will welcome the voluminous notes and index.
"Brown, in this masterful history, makes the writings of Augustine, Ambrose and Jerome more accessible to the average reader, and scholars will welcome the voluminous notes and index."-- Ray Saadi, Gumbo
Brown may be an emeritus professor of history at Princeton, but his research is resolutely up-to-date. . . . A hefty yet lucid contribution to the history of early Christianity.
"Brown may be an emeritus professor of history at Princeton, but his research is resolutely up-to-date. . . . A hefty yet lucid contribution to the history of early Christianity."-- Kirkus Reviews
Brown . . . offers a masterful study on how converting to Christianity transformed the ways that economic elites in Europe and North Africa viewed their own wealth's source and purpose. A vivid storyteller, Brown transforms evidence from written, archaeological, and material sources into compelling portraits of early Christian leaders like Ambrose and Augustine. . . . [ Through the Eye of a Needle ] will quickly become required reading for students of early Christianity and late ancient history, but others interested in history and theological studies also will find it engaging.
"Brown . . . offers a masterful study on how converting to Christianity transformed the ways that economic elites in Europe and North Africa viewed their own wealth's source and purpose. A vivid storyteller, Brown transforms evidence from written, archaeological, and material sources into compelling portraits of early Christian leaders like Ambrose and Augustine. . . . [ Through the Eye of a Needle ] will quickly become required reading for students of early Christianity and late ancient history, but others interested in history and theological studies also will find it engaging."-- Choice
Brown's goal in this book is patiently to reconstruct the debates on wealth among late Roman Christians: in other words, to set out the context for the tendentious claims of ascetic minorities, which have misled so many later interpreters.
"Brown's goal in this book is patiently to reconstruct the debates on wealth among late Roman Christians: in other words, to set out the context for the tendentious claims of ascetic minorities, which have misled so many later interpreters."-- Conrad Leyser, Times Literary Supplement
Compelling. . . . One can see in Brown's narrative that the disputes of the fourth century stand between the old civic generosity and a new concern for otherworldliness. Perhaps that transitory radicality could not be sustained. But it has bequeathed to the church a 'conglomerate of notions' that link the wealth of the church, the care of the poor and the fate of the soul.
"Compelling. . . . One can see in Brown's narrative that the disputes of the fourth century stand between the old civic generosity and a new concern for otherworldliness. Perhaps that transitory radicality could not be sustained. But it has bequeathed to the church a 'conglomerate of notions' that link the wealth of the church, the care of the poor and the fate of the soul."-- Walter Brueggemann, Christian Century
[D]eliriously complicated. . . . As usual, Brown leaves no stone unturned in his search for insight and evidence. . . . He paints a colorful social setting for early church debates about theology and ethics without becoming reductively sociological, and often overturns accepted mytho-history in the process. He quietly draws on contemporary theory but typically lets ancients speak for themselves because his aim is to introduce us to an exotic world. Through it all, he focuses on the masses of details by treating attitudes, beliefs, and practices about wealth as a 'stethoscope' to hear the heartbeat of late Roman and early Christian civilization. . . . Brown has captured the rough texture of real history. It is testimony to the success of Brown's subtle, provocative, and beautifully written book.
His sparkling prose, laced with humour and humanity, brings his subjects to life with an uncommon sympathy and feeling for their situation.
"His sparkling prose, laced with humour and humanity, brings his subjects to life with an uncommon sympathy and feeling for their situation."-- Tim Whitmarsh, Guardian
It is exciting to watch a historian who has already written so extensively on Late Antiquity absorb so much new scholarship, revise his old reviews, and re-imagine the world we thought we knew from him. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a tremendous achievement, even for a scholar who has already achieved so much. Its range is as vast as its originality, and readers will find everywhere the kinds of memorable aperçus and turns of phrase for which its author is deservedly famous. . . . There can be no doubt that we are in the presence of a historian and teacher of genius.
"It is exciting to watch a historian who has already written so extensively on Late Antiquity absorb so much new scholarship, revise his old reviews, and re-imagine the world we thought we knew from him. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a tremendous achievement, even for a scholar who has already achieved so much. Its range is as vast as its originality, and readers will find everywhere the kinds of memorable aper'us and turns of phrase for which its author is deservedly famous. . . . There can be no doubt that we are in the presence of a historian and teacher of genius."-- G. W. Bowersock, New Republic
Its achievement is plain. It explores, with Brown's characteristically profound empathy, the great paradox of how a church with a world- and wealth-denying ideology came to acquire temporal riches and respectability. . . . [H]is approach is to offer the reader extraordinarily vivid portraits of individual Christian thinkers faced with the moral contradictions of worldly riches. . . . This much anticipated book, described by Brown as 'the most difficult book to write that I have ever undertaken,' fulfils expectations. Its success is grounded in its unerring moral balance. Perhaps for the first time, the problem of wealth in early Christianity is treated in full, with no righteous fury at blatant hypocrisy nor any apology for a church that rationalized its enrichment by feeding the poor. . . . It is the virtue of Through the Eye of a Needle that it prompts and enables one to think about the largest questions. It is a gift to have such a beautiful, authoritative, and humane study that cuts to the heart of all that is most challenging in the relationship between the spiritual and the material in late antiquity.
[M]agesterial. . . . The formidably learned historian challenges commonly accepted notions about the role of wealth in the decline of the Roman empire and examines the roots of charity, two subjects relevant to contemporary economics.
[M]agisterial. . . . The formidably learned historian challenges commonly accepted notions about the role of wealth in the decline of the Roman empire and examines the roots of charity, two subjects relevant to contemporary economics.
"[M]agisterial. . . . The formidably learned historian challenges commonly accepted notions about the role of wealth in the decline of the Roman empire and examines the roots of charity, two subjects relevant to contemporary economics."-- Marcia Z. Nelson, Publishers Weekly
[N]o other scholar could have produced Brown's characteristically intricate, spectacular and joyous synthesis. . . . One of the captivating qualities of Brown's new book is the sheer energy and intellectual excitement that sparkle through it. He might, in recent years, have rested of his laurels--perhaps, like his beloved Augustine, written his memoirs. Instead, he celebrates the continuing expansion of the field and demonstrates his continued mastery of it in a groundbreaking study of wealth in the late antique Church. . . . Towards the end of the book, Brown describes how a basilica might have looked around the year 600: glowing with candles, glittering with mosaics, gleaming with gold and silver vessels. 'The church itself', he says, 'had become a little heaven, filled with treasures.' It is a description irresistibly applicable to Peter Brown's own book: as rich a monument to the life of the mind as was any late Roman basilica to the life everlasting.
[O]utstanding. . . . Brown lays before us a vast panorama of the entire culture and society of the late Roman west.
"[O]utstanding. . . . Brown lays before us a vast panorama of the entire culture and society of the late Roman west."-- Peter Thornemann, Times Literary Supplement
Peter Brown, professor emeritus at Princeton University and the leading historian of late antiquity, has written a masterful study. . . . His book is characterized by lively prose, mastery of the primary sources and original languages, comprehensive use of changes in the study of antiquities (especially the 'material culture' of archaeology), gorgeous plates, nearly 300 pages of bibliographic end material, and a number of important revisions to the standard historiography.
"Peter Brown, professor emeritus at Princeton University and the leading historian of late antiquity, has written a masterful study. . . . His book is characterized by lively prose, mastery of the primary sources and original languages, comprehensive use of changes in the study of antiquities (especially the 'material culture' of archaeology), gorgeous plates, nearly 300 pages of bibliographic end material, and a number of important revisions to the standard historiography."-- Dan Clendenin, JourneywithJesus.net
"Peter Brown's achievement is not least in having placed us all in his debt with so rich a work. Princeton University Press may also take its share of credit for the editing and production. Scholars will relish not only his insight and method, but 101 pages of footnotes and 76 pages of primary and secondary sources. Classical and church historians and theologians will relish the evaluations of individuals and communities and re-evaluations of the development of ideas. But please do not be put off by thinking that this is a book only for academics; all of us can enjoy what is, simply, accessible and well-written reading matter that does not require the possession of academic qualifications. It deserves to be enjoyed on the beach, as well as in the Bodleian!"-- John Scott, Fairacres Chronicle
Puts a stethoscope to the fourth through sixth centuries C.E.
"Puts a stethoscope to the fourth through sixth centuries C.E."-- Garry Wills, New York Times Book Review
The sheer scope of this history is daunting, but scholars, theologians, and anyone interested in late Roman history or early Christianity will find this a fascinating view not only of the Church's development, but also of the changing concepts of wealth and poverty in the last centuries of the Roman empire.
"The sheer scope of this history is daunting, but scholars, theologians, and anyone interested in late Roman history or early Christianity will find this a fascinating view not only of the Church's development, but also of the changing concepts of wealth and poverty in the last centuries of the Roman empire."-- Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia, Library Journal
This book should be daunting but it is not; for while the book is heavy to lift, it is even harder to put down. It makes utterly compelling reading.
"This book should be daunting but it is not; for while the book is heavy to lift, it is even harder to put down. It makes utterly compelling reading."-- Eric Ormsby, Standpoint
This is a masterpiece that more than justifies its length. Peter Brown is the greatest living historian of late antiquity, a periodization which he virtually invented, and Through the Eye of a Needle an achievement which stands to his earlier career as a great cathedral does to a pilgrimage route.
"This is a masterpiece that more than justifies its length. Peter Brown is the greatest living historian of late antiquity, a periodization which he virtually invented, and Through the Eye of a Needle an achievement which stands to his earlier career as a great cathedral does to a pilgrimage route."-- Tom Holland, History Today
Thoroughly researched, making use of the new materials that have emerged in the recent years, The Eye of the Needle is a scholarly work not just on early Christianity but relates its growth to the later developments and offers a new reading of the old sayings. It definitely is a source book for readers on religion and society.
"Thoroughly researched, making use of the new materials that have emerged in the recent years, The Eye of the Needle is a scholarly work not just on early Christianity but relates its growth to the later developments and offers a new reading of the old sayings. It definitely is a source book for readers on religion and society."-- R. Balashankar, Organiser
Through the Eye of a Needle (Princeton University Press) is the crowning masterpiece of Peter Brown, the great historian who virtually invented late antiquity as a periodisation. The book's theme might seem specialised: the evolution of attitudes towards wealth in the last century and a half of the Roman empire in the west, and the century that followed its collapse. In reality, like so many of Brown's books, it gives us a world vivid with colour and alive with a symphony of voices. It is not only the most compassionate study of late antiquity in the west ever written, but also a profoundly subtle meditation on our own tempestuous relationship with money.
To compare it with earlier surveys of this period is to move from the X-ray to the cinema. . . . Every page is full of information and argument, and savoring one's way through the book is an education. It is a privilege to live in an age that could produce such a masterpiece of the historical literature.
"To compare it with earlier surveys of this period is to move from the X-ray to the cinema. . . . Every page is full of information and argument, and savoring one's way through the book is an education. It is a privilege to live in an age that could produce such a masterpiece of the historical literature."-- Garry Wills, New York Review of Books
Winner of the 2012 R. R. Hawkins Award, PROSE Awards, Association of American Publishers Winner of the 2012 Award for Excellence in Humanities, Association of American Publishers Winner of the 2012 Gold Medal Book of the Year Award, History category, ForeWord Reviews Winner of the 2012 PROSE Award in Classics & Ancient History, Association of American Publishers
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, August 2012
Library Journal, September 2012
Kirkus Reviews, November 2012
Choice, May 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This volume is an intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire. 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.
Main Description
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.
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
Mediocritas
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
Symmachus
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
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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