Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 ADby Peter Brown
Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire,/i>
Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world's foremost scholar of late antiquity.
Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. 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.
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.
G. W. Bowersock
A fascinating book by the great historian of late antiquity, Peter Brown, on the development of Christianity in Rome. . . . Through the Eye of a Needle is a serious work of scholarship and an important study about how Rome became Christian.
"Through the Eye of a Needle, an important revisionary account for scholars of the ancient world, should 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. . . . It is both masterful and friendly."--Caroline Walker Bynum, Common Knowledge
"[T]his book, like Brown's many others, has done [much] to illuminate the late-ancient world, and he has opened many avenues for others to continue exploring."--Michael Kulikowski, Catholic Historical Review
"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."--World Book Industry
"In typical fashion, Peter Brown has delivered a text that is masterly in scale, broad in scope, . . . and admirable in readability for a large audience."--M.A. Gaumer, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
"In addition to vast erudition formed by a range of reading in well over a dozen languages, Brown has something of the cinematographer's ability to compose a narrative by moving between panoramas and individual close-ups. The results are often dazzling."--Patrick Cook, Cambrdige Humanities Review
"[T]his is an impressive and monumental piece of scholarship that casts western late antiquity into clearer relief than it has received. It will long be required reading for anyone wanting to understand the social realities of Christianity in the late antique West."--Geoffrey D. Dunn, Journal of Early Christian Studies
"Through the Eye of a Needle is Peter Brown at his best, his very best: a thoughtful and thought-provoking travel-guide whose beautiful prose opens up previously unseen horizons of real people living in a variety of landscapes around the Mediterranean at different moments in a period of epochal change that was fundamental for the making of Western European civilization. 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."--John Behr, Marginalia
"[C]learly a magisterial achievement. 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."--Benjamin H. Dunning, European Legacy
"Through the Eye of the Needle will remain . . . as massive and reassuringly immovable landmarks in the horizon of our understanding."--Kate Cooper, Journal of Roman Studies
"Elegantly written and amply sign-posted, this long book is a pleasure to read."--Alexander Skinner, Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture
"Those readers interested in the evolution of the Western church or in a good social approach or both will find this book a splendid treatment. . . . This thorough work will become the standard go-to study of the early Christian church in the West."--Lee L. Brice, The Historian
"Magisterial. . . . Brown's newest monograph belongs on the bookcase of every late ancient and medieval historian. . . . A stunning accomplishment."--Elizabeth DePalma Digesner, H-Net Reviews
- Princeton University Press
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 5 MB
Meet the Author
Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
No one brightens up the Dark Ages better than Peter Brown. He does it with insight, with earthy humor and spectacular breadth.