From Charity to Human Rights: Themes in the History of Christian Responses to Poverty
Episcopal Divinity School, January 9-20, 2012, 10AM-noon
Instructor: Dr. Susan R. Holman

COURSE SYLLABUS (printable pdf) and Comparative Book Review List:


Assignment Due Dates (see course syllabus for details):
Mon. Jan. 9 (first day of class): Reflection paper
Mon. Jan. 16: Comparative book review
Thurs/Fri Jan. 19-20: Oral presentations of course paper ideas (outline & preliminary bibliography due)
Tues, Feb. 14: Deadline for final paper

Please refer to the syllabus for all details about the course overview, expectations, and assignments. Below is a list of the readings for each session with links to course reserve copies of readings not in the textbooks.

New Additional Online-on-Reserve Materials
Materials on this "New Additional" list are either those (a) added due to student request or interest during the course or (b) moved here due to syllabus changes for Sessions 7 and 8; The readings in this section are NOT required for the course
1. Robert Baldwin, "The Protestant Background of Rembrandt's Imagery of Poverty, Disability, and Begging"
2. [Table] What motivates an exchange?
3. Caner: "Charitable Ministrations (Diaconia), Monasticism, and the Social Aesthetic of Sixth-Century Byzantium," in: Frenkel & Lev (eds), Charity and Giving in Monotheistic Religions (Berlin/NY: DeGruyter, 2009), pp. 45-73.
4. Caner: "Alms, Blessings, Offerings: The Repertoire of Christian Gifts in Early Byzantium," (forthcoming in a volume on religion and the gift, edited by Michael Satlow)
5. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 14 "On the Love of the poor" (translation by Martha Vinson)
6. (for discussion:) Francine Cardman, "Poverty and Wealth as Theater: John Chrysostom's Homilies on Lazarus and the Rich Man," in Holman (Ed.) Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 2008), pp. 159-175.
7. Annewies van den Hoek, "Widening the Eye of the Needle: Wealth and Poverty in the Works of Clement of Alexandria," in Holman (ed.), Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 2008), pp. 67-75.
8. Clement of Alexandria, "Who is the Rich Man that shall be saved?" selections. For convenience, can use the 1901 translation by P. Mordaunt Barnard. The Loeb translation of the selections (with accompanying Greek text), This is a long treatise so you may prefer to read only the selections identified in the Loeb excerpts.
9. Kelly S. Johnson, "Begging and Christian Economy," in The Fear of Beggars: Stewardship and Poverty in Christian Ethics (chapter 1, pp. 13-50).
10. "Building Solidarity Assets," Dr. Paul Pierre
11. Catholic Social Thought - Select Sources and Links
12. Human Rights Documents - Selections and Links

Monday January 9 (session 1)
Required Readings:

1. (for reflection paper): Ethna Regan, Theology and the Boundary Discourse of Human Rights (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010), chapter 3: "Human rights in time: realism between memory and hope", pp. 100-142.
2. (for reflection paper): Holman, God Knows There's Need, chapters 1-3 (pp. 1-70) [in course text].
3. Witte & Alexander, pp. 1-62 (foreword by Desmond Tutu, "To be human is to be free", introduction, and ch 1, Novak: "Judaic Foundation of Rights", pp. 47-62].
4. Deep Leadership: Interior Dimensions of Large Scale Change, a panel discussion with: Dr. Paul Farmer, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Joe Madiath, and Cecelia Flores-Oebanda, at the 2011 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, March 31, 2011. online link through Partners In Health website at: [98 minutes]. The link also includes transcript of Dr. Farmer's remarks and a commentary.
NOTE: The Skoll Forum video was an exchange between high-level world leaders known for their influence in addressing global health and justice, and includes dialogue on the influences of religion in their work. We will not directly discuss the video in the course so it is technically "optional/recommended," but you may find it useful to watch at some point before the first class.


1. Witte & Alexander, chapter 2 (Human rights and Roman ius).

Tuesday, January 10 (session 2)

Required Readings (Read 1-3 carefully and be familiar with the content of 4-7 for class discussion)

1. Berma Klein Goldewijk & Bas de Gaay Fortman, Where Needs Meet Rights: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in a New Perspective (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1999), pp. 1-18, 55-72, 140-146 (chapters 1, 5, and 10).
2. Schroeder, Introduction (pp. 15-39).
3. Please open and skim two modern human rights documents for a basic familiarity:
a) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)--also available online at and
b) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)--available online at] - PLEASE NOTE: We will discuss the UDHR and ICESCR in more detail during session 6.
4. Partners In Health, "Addressing the social determinants of health through a program on social and economic rights (POSER),Program Management Guide unit 11, available at: [and here].
5. (for discussion:) Basil of Caesarea: "I shall tear down my barns" (Hom. 6), and "In time of famine and drought" (Hom. 8), in Schroeder, pp. 59-88. If you do not have time to read both Basil sermons, please be sure to read Hom. 6 and the John Chrysostom sermon (below).
6. (for discussion:) John Chrysostom, "Sermon on Alms," transl. Margaret Sherwood (1917).
7. (for discussion:) Please CHOOSE ONE selection from a 19th century text describing alms-houses, charity sermons, and philanthropic perceptions of the poor in America, Canada, and Britain (see list of links below). Skim the one of most interest to you to get a sense of format, tone, and voice, and read as much as you wish. Be prepared to share with the class a few notes on what you read and how it might inform our understanding of Basil's poorhouse in the fourth century. (Note these are scans of the original documents so onscreen reading with magnification may be easier to read than paper printouts.)
Samples include:
William Staughton, Compassion to the poor recommended: A sermon (1810)
Ezra Stiles Ely, The Second Journal of the Stated Preacher to the Hospital and Almshouse, in the City of New-York for a part of the year of our Lord 1813, (Philadelphia: 1815)
John Stanford, Address delivered in the orphan asylum, New York, Feb. 5, 1822, on the Conflagration of the Orphan House of the city of Philadelphia,
Matthew Carey, Essays on the Public Charities of Philadelphia, 1828
Mary Eleanor Benson, Streets and Lanes of the City (1891)
Mary Roberts Smith, Almshouse Women, Boston, 1895 - ebook here


1. Facebook website of "New City Initiative," a grant-funded project created by C. Paul Schroeder in Portland based on his interpretation of Basil's vision:
2. Holman, Susan R. "Out of the Fitting Room: Rethinking Patristic Social Texts on 'The Common Good,'" In Johan Leemans, Brian Matz, and Johan Verstraeten, eds., Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics: Issues and Challenges for 21st Century Christian Social Thought. Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2011, pp. 103-123.

Wednesday, January 11 (session 3)

Required Readings

1. Daniel F. Caner, ""Wealth, Stewardship, and Charitable 'Blessings' in Early Byzantine Monasticism.
2. selections from early Byzantine passages on almsgiving materials and quantities.
3. Visser, The Gift of Thanks [chapter 11, "Votive Offerings," and 12, "Unpacking Gratitude", pp. 145-174.

1. Aafke Elisabeth Komter, "Gratitude and Gift Exchange", ch. 10 in: Robert A. Emmons & Michael E. McCullough (eds), The Psychology of Gratitude (NY: Oxford UP, 2004), pp. 195-212.
2. Daniel F. Caner, "In support of people who pray," Chapter 3 in Caner, Wandering, Begging Monks.

Thursday, January 12 (session 4)

Required Readings

1. Lindberg, Carter. Beyond Charity: Reformation Initiatives for the Poor, chapter 2 (pp. 68-127) and pages 179-185, 200-206 [readings: 5.5, 5.6, 7.1, and 7.2].
2. Juan-Luis Vives, "Concerning the Relief of the Poor or Concerning Human Need: A Letter Addressed to the Senate of Bruges, January 6, 1526," trans. Margaret Sherwood (1917) (See "Introduction" in Optional/Recommended list for a few details on Vives' life).
3. Holman, God Knows There's Need, chapters 4 and 7.


1. Introduction to Juan-Luis Vives, De Subventione Pauperum sive de humanis Necessitatibus, Libri II: Introduction, Critical Edition, Translation, and Notes, edited by Charles Fantazzi. Leiden: Brill, 2002, pp. ix-xxx.
2. Lee Brummel, "Luther and the Biblical Language of Poverty," Ecumenical Review 32 (1980): 40-58.
3. Witte & Alexander, chapters 6-7 (on rights and liberties, and on Calvinism).
4. Nicholas Wolterstorff, "How My Mind has Changed" (selections), in: Nicholas Wolterstorff, Hearing the Call: Liturgy, Justice, Church, and World, edited by Mark R. Gornik and Gregory Thompson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011).
5. Marjorie K. McIntosh, "Poverty, Charity, and Coercion in Elizabethan England," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 35/3 (2005), pp. 457-479].

Friday, January 13 (session 5)


Required Readings:

1. Ethna Regan, "Liberation Theology and Human Rights," in idem, Theology and the Boundary Discourse of Human Rights (Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 2010), pp. 143-77).
2. Witte & Alexander, pp. 113-134 (=chapter 5, J. Brian Hehir on Vatican 2) and ch. 16 (Seiple: "Christianity, human rights, and a theology that touches the ground"), pp. 320-334.
3. (for discussion:) The "Syriac Man of God", trans. Robert Doran.
4. (for discussion:) Paul Farmer, "Health, healing, and social justice: Insights from liberation theology," chapter 5 in: Paul Farmer, Pathologies of Power: Health, human rights, and the new war on the poor (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 135-159.
5. (for discussion:) Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., Good News to the Poor: John Wesley's Evangelical Economics, chapter 3: "A Preferential Option for the Poor" pp. 47-69.


1. Online video, "Re-imagining Accompaniment: Global Health and Liberation Theology: A Dialogue with Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, OP, and Dr. Paul Farmer," University of Notre Dame Kellogg Institute for International Studies, October 24, 2011. [95 minutes] online at:; also online YouTube link at:
2. Jim Barnett, OP, "Accompaniment from El Salvador On..." posted online here.
3. Medellin Documents, "Poverty of the Church" and "Justice" by the Latin American Bishops, Medellin, Colombia, September 6, 1968, also available online.
4. Heidi B. Neumark, Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, podcast interviews with Dick Staub. Four short radio interviews, all accessible at: A written transcript of all four is available on the course website and taken from:
5. Wilkinson-Maposa, Susan, Alan Fowler, Ceri Oliver-Evans, and Chao F. N. Mulenga. The Poor Philanthropist: How and Why the Poor Help Each Other. University of Cape Town [South Africa] Graduate School of Business, [n.d.] download at [link].

Monday, January 16 (session 6)


Required Readings:

1. "The vine and the elm," in The Shepherd of Hermas.
2. "Give me your tired, your poor, and their assets," Chapter 5 in Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor--And Yourself (Chicago: Moody Publications, 2009), pp. 125-140 [a reader-friendly description of asset-based development approach as it relates to religion].
3. Please review the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (see session 2 above for online links).
4. African Religious Health Assets Programme, Appreciating Assets: The Contribution of Religion to Universal Access in Africa. Report for the World Health Organization (Cape Town: ARHAP, October 2006). Also available online at Please read at least the Executive Summary (pp. 1-5), chapter 1 (pp. 1-25) and chapter 5 (pp. 123-132).
5. Esther D. Reed, The Ethics of Human Rights: Contested Doctrinal and Moral Issues (Waco, TX: Baylor, 2007), pp. 167-174 ("Afterword").

Optional/Recommended (While you will likely not have time to read this material for today's class, you may wish to note and save it for later reference in work on related issues)

1. Esther D. Reed, The Ethics of Human Rights, pp. 1-20 (Introduction).
2. Deneulin, Severine and Carole Rakodi. "Revisiting Religion: Development Studies Thirty Years On," World Development 39/1 (2011), pp. 45-54.
3. Holman, "Healing the world with righteousness? The language of social justice in early Christian homilies," in Miriam Frenkel and Yaacov Lev, eds., Charity and Giving in Monotheistic Religions. Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des islamischen Orients. Berlin/NY: De Gruyter, 2009, pp. 89-110.
4. World Health Organization, Social Determinants of Health (SDH), website: NOTE: Anyone working on justice and inequity issues related to global health (broadly defined) should become familiar with this website and the resources it describes, including the work of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health, and the papers that came out of the recent World Conference in Rio de Janeiro.
5. Lisa Sowle Cahill, "Justice for Women: Martha Nussbaum and CST," in: Deneulin, Nebel, and Sagovsky, Transforming unjust structures: The capability approach, pp. 83-104.
6. John P. Kretzman and John L. McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path toward finding and mobilizing a community's assets, Chicago: Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, 1993. Online at [more about ABCD is at their website:].
7. Witte & Alexander, ch. 17 (Nagle, "A right to clean water"), pp. 335-350.

Tuesday, January 17 (session 7)

Required Readings:

1. Deneuelin & Bano, "Religion in Development Thought," chapter 2 in: Religion in Development: Rewriting the Secular Script (London/NY: Zed Books, 2009), pp. 28-51.
2. Alan Whaites, "Pursuing Partnership: World Vision and the Ideology of Development: A Case Study," Development in Practice 9(4); 1999: 410-423.


For this session, you may find it useful to review the following readings from earlier class sessions:
1. Goldwijk & Fortman, Where Needs Meet Rights... (from Session 2), chapter 1
2. Partners In Health, Program Management Guide, unit 11 (from Session 2)
3. Nicholas Wolterstorff, "How my mind has changed," (selections) (from Session 4)
4. The following may be relevant to today's theme for later reference: "John M. Ackerman, "Human Rights and Social Accountability," Social Development Papers: Participation and Civic Engagement, Paper No. 86. The World Bank, May 2005, available online at

Wednesday, January 18 (session 8)

Required Readings:

1. Witte & Alexander, pp. 32-43 (Witte) and 173-190 (McGuckin), both on Orthodoxy and human rights.
2. Melissa Caldwell, "The Russian Orthodox Church, the Provision of Social Welfare, and Changing Ethics of Benevolence," ch. 14 in: Chris Hann and Hermann Goltz (eds), Eastern Christians in Anthropologic Perspective (Berkeley: Univ. California Press, 2010), pp. 329-350.
3. Gregory of Nyssa, sermons "On the love of the poor" translation from: Holman, The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia (NY: Oxford UP, 2001), pp. 199-206.
4. Holman, God Knows There's Need, chapter 6 ("Maria's Choice") and 8 ("Embodying Sacred Kingdom").

1. "Images of the poor," in Lee Palmer Wandel, Always Among Us: Images of the Poor in Zwingli's Zurich (pp. 77-123).
2. Natalia Ermolaev, "The Marian Dimension of Mother Maria"s [=Maria Skobtsova] Orthodox Social Christianity," in: M. J. Pereira (ed), Philanthropy and Social Compassion in Eastern Orthodox Tradition. Papers of the Sophia Institute's Academic Conference 2009 [NY: Union Theological Seminary] (NY: Theotokos Press, 2010), pp. 182-199.

Thursday, January 19 (session 9) and Friday, January 20 (session 10)


Your outline and first-draft reference list is due on the day of your presentation


image at top: feet of the poor, from a 12th century illuminated manuscript of the sermons of Gregory of Nazianzus
Note: The material linked on this page is exclusively for the single-personal-copy on-reserve use by students registered in the course, during the course.