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Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire: Christian Promotion and Practice 313-450

Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire: Christian Promotion and Practice 313-450

Hardback Oxford Classical Monographs

By (author) Richard Finn

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 145mm x 218mm x 31mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2006
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199283605
  • ISBN 13: 9780199283606
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,508,593

Product description

Richard Finn OP examines the significance of almsgiving in Churches of the later empire for the identity and status of the bishops, ascetics, and lay people who undertook practices which differed in kind and context from the almsgiving practised by pagans. It reveals how the almsgiving crucial in constructing the bishop's standing was a co-operative task where honour was shared but which exposed the bishop to criticism and rivalry. Finn details how practices gained meaning from a discourse which recast traditional virtues of generosity and justice to render almsgiving a benefaction and source of honour, and how this pattern of thought and conduct interacted with classical patterns to generate controversy. He argues that co-operation and competition in Christian almsgiving, together with the continued existence of traditional euergetism, meant that, contrary to the views of recent scholars, Christian alms did not turn bishops into the supreme patrons of their cities.

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Author information

Richard Finn OP is Regent of Studies, Blackfriars, Oxford.

Review quote

Impressively comprehensive...this is a book every scholar interested in the history of almsgiving should have on their bookshelves Sara Parvis, Journal of Ecclesiastical History ...this short review does not do justice to the percipience, learned scholarship, or thematic richness of this monograph. Caroline Humfress, Journal of Roman Studies Because of its width of scope, attention to detail, thoroughness of scholarship, careful analysis of a mass of texts and ability to open the whole late antique world through the lense of the topic of almsgiving I warmly recommend this book. J. Leemans, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses Throughout this work we see an impressive knowledge of a wide range of late antique Christian texts, as well as of late antique society itself. Aideen Hartney, Journal of Theological Studies ...drawing convincing conclusions ...[in] his worthwhile study TLS A notable contribution to the history of Christian charity. The Tablet This book is a success...it is highly readable, and can be recommended not just to classicists but to social and ecclesiastical historians of other periods...a superb study. Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. Episcopal almsgiving ; 3. Almsgiving by monks and lay Christians ; 4. The promotion of Christian almsgiving ; 5. The meanings of Christian almsgiving ; 6. Christian and Classical ; 7. Concluding remarks