I am returning now to my discussion of understandings of wealth and charity in the early Christian tradition, as I think through how I want to draft my prospectus on a book on that topic for my publisher. If you want to see the earlier posts on views of wealth and giving in the Roman world (which stand in stark contrast with what arose in Christianity), just do a word search for “wealth” on the blog and you’ll see all the recent articles.
Now I move to the views of the historical Jesus and his followers; after that, in subsequent posts, I’ll talk about how these views changed significantly over (Christian) time, and consider the real life practical effects they had in understanding the importance of helping the poor in the Western world.
The later Christian discourse appealed to such traditions as found in the Hebrew Bible, but it found yet greater impetus in the recorded teachings of Jesus. For the purposes of my analysis, it is important to remember that historical scholars can no longer simply quote verses to show what Jesus himself actually said – the Gospels certainly record sayings that were placed on his lips by later story tellers (or the Gospel writers themselves). But there are also certainly sayings that are authentic (the scholarly task is to demonstrate which is which). And among these are numerous teachings about wealth, including some that urge complete divestment. Indeed, those who give away their worldly goods will “receive treasure in heaven.”
In our earliest Gospel, Mark, we find the famous story of
This is a rather key element of Jesus’ teachings. Want to read more? Join the blog! Click here for membership options