About this Course
"Poverty and Wealth in the Early Christian World" was a seminar offered by Professor Susan Ashbrook Harvey to both graduate and undergraduate students at Brown University in the fall of 1998. Below is the syllabus and a complete bibliography of all readings. Posted here with permission.
will consider poverty and wealth in the Roman Empire from New Testament
times through the sixth century A.D., specifically in terms of their impact
on the development of Christianity as a religion. We will thus be attentive
to both experiential and interpretive realities: what constituted poverty
or wealth in antiquity? What was the life of the poor in the Roman Empire,
and what were the obligations of the rich? What material and moral considerations
determined the contours of both conditions? Topics include: the meanings
of poverty and wealth in Judaic and pagan cultures; Christian notions
about poverty and wealth; social class in the early church; the impact
of Christianity as a state religion on the social response to poverty
and wealth; monasticism and holy poverty; the development of the Christian
concept of institutionalized charity.
and R. Saller, The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture.
2. A term paper (15-20 pages for undergraduates; 20-25 pages for graduate students) to be presented in the final class sessions. Assignment attached.
3. Class attendance; thoughtful reading and writing. Be prepared to discuss your ideas and reactions to the readings.
All readings given are required for the date shown. The Coursepacket contains all readings other than the required books, with the exception of biblical texts.
Sept. 9 Introduction.
16 Material Resources of the Greco-Roman World
23 Moral Resources of the Greco Roman World
30 New Testament Themes: Synoptic Traditions
Redemptive Almsgiving in the Early Church, chs. 3 and 4, pp. 46-75.
Poverty and Charity in Roman Palestine, ch. 7, pp. 222-241.
Nov. 18 [papers]
Complete Bibliography of Expected Readings for the Course:
1. A. R. Hands, Charities and Social Aid in Greece and Rome (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1968), Documents, pp. 175-210.
3. The Cynic
Models: Diogenes the Cynic, Crates, and Hipparchia
4. Seneca, On Mercy, from Seneca: Moral Essays, trans. J. W. Basore, LCL (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1958) Vol. 1, 357-449.
5. Seneca, Letter 81, On Benefits, from Seneca: Moral Epistles, trans. R. M. Gummere, LCL (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1920) Vol. 2, pp. 218-41.
6. Plutarch, On Love of Wealth, trans. P.H. DeLacy and B. Einarson in Plutarch, Moralia, trans. F. C. Babbitt, LCL (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967) Vol. 7, pp. 6-39.
7. Plutarch, Against Borrowing Money, from Plutarch, Selected Essays and Dialogues, trans. D. Russell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993) 239-45.
Exhortation: Conventional Subjects
9. R. Garrison, Redemptive Almsgiving in the Early Church, JSNT Suppl. Ser. 77 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993) chs. 3 and 4, pp. 46-75.
10. G. Hamel, Poverty and Charity in Roman Palestine, First Three Centuries C.E. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990) ch. 5 and 6, pp. 164-221.
11. D. Balch, "Rich and Poor, Proud and Humble in Luke-Acts," in The Social World of the First Christians: Essays in Honor of Wayne Meeks, ed. L. M. White and O. L. Yarbrough (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995) 214-33.
12. C. Osiek and D. L. Balch, Families in the New Testament World: Households and House Churches (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1997), chs. 4, 8, concl., pp. 91-102, 193-222.
13. G. Hamel, Poverty and Charity in Roman Palestine, First Three Centuries C.E. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990) ch. 7, pp. 222-241.
14. Aristeides, Apology, 15, 16 (from J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius, rev. ed. W. H.C. Frend, London: SPCK, 1987, pp. 52-55.
15. Epistle to Diognetus, sec. 5-6 (Ante-Nicene Christian Library, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. 1: the Apostolic Fathers; repr. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994, pp. 307-309).
16. Pastor (Shepherd) of Hermas, 3rd Vision, sec. 1-7; 2nd Similitude (Ante-Nicene Christian Library, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. 1: the Apostolic Fathers; repr. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994, pp. 332-9, 377-9).
17. Clement of Alexandria, on the Salvation of the Rich Man, trans. W. Wilson (Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. 2: Fathers of the Second Century; repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994, pp. 589-604).
18. Cyprian of Carthage, on Works and Almsgiving, trans. R. J. Deferrari; St. Cyprian, Treatises, trans. and ed. R. J. Deferrari, FC 36 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc. 1958) 225-53.
Finances and Wealth
20. On the
the Apostate, Letter to a Priest; Letter 40 to Hecebolius.
of Nazianzus, On St. Basil (Or. 43), sec. 34-36, 61-63; trans. L. McCauley,
23. Basil of Caesarea, "I Will Pull Down My Barns" (Hom. 6), trans. M. F. Toal, The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers (Chicago: Regnery, 1959) Vol. 3, pp. 325-32.
24. Gregory of Nazianzus, "On the Love of the Poor" (Or. 14), trans. M. F. Toal, The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers (Chicago: Regnery, 1959) Vol. 4, pp. 43-64.
25. Gregory of Nyssa, "Against Those who Practice Usury," trans. C. McCambley, Greek Orthodox Theological Review 36 (1991) 287-302.
Dialogue on the Life of St. John Chrysostom, excerpts.
Chrysostom, Homily 12 on 1 Timothy 4.1-3.
Chrysostom, Homily 56 on Matthew 16. 28.
29. (Select) Canons of the Council of Chalcedon, 451 (from J. Stevenson, Creeds, Councils, and Controversies, rev. ed. W.H.C. Frend, London: SPCK, 1989, pp. 354-7).
30. The Chronicle
of Joshua the Stylite, sec. 28-45.
of Caesarea, Letters 283, 285, and 150 (excerpt)
The Long Rules, Questions 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 38, 39, 40
Rules for Nuns (from Letter 211) 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13.
the Lausiac History, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 40, 46
of the Desert Fathers, Anthony, Arsenius, Carion, Olympius, Paphnutius
36. The Man
of God of Edessa
37. S. A. Harvey, "The Holy and the Poor: Models from Early Syriac Christianity," in Through the Eye of a Needle: Judeo-Christian Roots of Social Welfare, ed. E. A. Hanawalt and C. Lindberg (Kirksville, MO: Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1994) , pp. 43-66.
38. The Syriac
Life of St. Simeon the Stylite
of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints, 12 (Mary and Euphemia), 8 (Addai),
and 31 (Elijah and Theodore).
Moschus, the Spiritual Meadow, 136.
of St. John the Almsgiver
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