Shielded from the demands of family, local communities and the imperial tax system, they could use their newly unencumbered wealth to support Christian causes. It was the faith of an elite band who had demonstrated that extraordinary feats of denial were possible, and insisted that they were necessary for salvation. Balashankar, Organiser Its achievement is plain. There can be no doubt that we are in the presence of a historian and teacher of genius. The various people profiled were described in a very engaging way which illustrated the changing views on wealth over hundreds of years. Excavating the roots of medieval charity, he illuminates the problems of rich and poor today, and delivers a triumph of history at its finest.
He also had it in his power either to shame or to shield the rich. 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. The leaders of the churches realized that they--and not the great lay landowners whose fortunes had previously dwarfed the wealth of the church--were, at last, truly wealthy. What they did do was open up for Ambrose and for similar Christian bishops a space for intervention in society. Donatists, and even the late phase of the Arians vs.
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. Using a fine brush and a light touch, Brown paints his pictures with a palette of an astonishingly broad and erudite up-to-date scholarship. 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. Brown has captured the rough texture of real history. We were gripped with panic by the cramped space, so that it seemed as if we were about to die. It is a magnificent achievement.
Through the Eye of a Needle pushes that enterprise, and its sense of place, even further. Noble, author of Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians. For example, the tale of Augustine and Pelagius becomes livelier when the role of affluence is drawn in and given its place. I recommend it warmly and confidently. Certainly it is a hard book to classify.
This echoes down to today as Christians are called to give generously. The collapse of the traditional aristocracies left the church in a unique position. Peter Brown's long-awaited book surpasses even the high expectations set by his previous writings, and will engage general readers and specialists alike. Even ordinary Christians could imagine their celestial investment portfolios augmented with each charitable act. Through the Eye of a Needle should be read by anyone interested in the late Roman Empire, ancient Christianity, or the complex origins of attitudes towards wealth and poverty in the modern world. Each friendship was a gamble.
Through the Eye of a Needle, an important revisionary account for scholars of the ancient world, should also be read by a general public and by beginning undergraduates as an example of the humanity, the generosity, and the clarity of scholarship at its best. In the preface to Through the Eye of a Needle Peter Brown remarks that this is the most difficult book to write that he has ever undertaken. Brown has authored several books including: a biography of Augustine of Hippo and another book titled The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity. It is a privilege to live in an age that could produce such a masterpiece of the historical literature. Using a fine brush and a light touch, Brown paints his pictures with a palette of an astonishingly broad and erudite up-to-date scholarship.
He uses modern research, recently discovered texts, and archaeological evidence to question the prevailing narratives about the rise of prominence of Christianity in the Latin West and presents a more complex, nuanced, and ultimately more contextual and feasible explanation of that rise. Click Through for the full review on my blog at Way back when I was in college, and first learning about the history of the Christian church, there was a common refrain I heard: Constantine converted to Christianity, gave the Church privileges and the Church took over. Paulinus was ordained in Barcelona on Christmas Day and moved the following summer across the western Mediterranean to Nola, a small town in Campania where his family owned estates. Using a fine brush and a light touch, Brown paints his pictures with a palette of an astonishingly broad and erudite up-to-date scholarship. 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. Moreover, the topic holds fascinating implications about the formation of modern Western culture.
It is crammed with stimulating ideas, and striking, very Brownian observations and metaphors. 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. He quietly draws on contemporary theory but typically lets ancients speak for themselves because his aim is to introduce us to an exotic world. I think other accounts suffer from focussing on broader periods. There were no pews and no pulpit.
Society was a risky business. He was very much a late Roman Christ. While the power and influence of the Roman empire waned, the relative influence of the Church grew. Eventually, as the empire itself ebbed and the church accumulated property, bishops took on the administrative and authoritative mantle of Roman officials in the west, completing a process of cross-over unimaginable in the early centuries of the faith. One of the captivating qualities of Brown's new book is the sheer energy and intellectual excitement that sparkle through it. The volume could well be used as the primary textbook for college and seminary classes that are covering the Roman millennia.