So far I have been discussing why “wealth” was sometimes seen as a problem by moral philosophers in the Greek and Roman worlds. People who either have or want to have huge amounts of money are neglecting what they really need for ultimate happiness. And money can corrupt morals, making one greedy, rapacious, and inclined to general nastiness. These pagan ethical discourses are written by elites, for elites, concerned for the personal welfare of the elites.
Christians had different views, at least so far as we can tell from their writings. Whereas the “problem of wealth” was occasionally discussed among pagan moral philosophers, it became a central focus of interest in parts of the Christian tradition, starting with Jesus himself. For the historian of religions that comes as no surprise. Jesus himself was thoroughly Jewish and there are few aspects of Jewish ethical discourse more distinctive than the repeated emphasis both that the God of Israel was the God of the poor and that his people were to care for those who were in need. Far from being dismissed from polite thought and conversation – as in the elite discourses of the Greek and Roman words generally – the poor were front and center. Those who neglect the poor will be judged by God.
The view is strongly pronounced
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