Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire: Christian Promotion by Richard Finn

By Richard Finn

Richard Finn OP examines the importance of almsgiving in church buildings of the later empire for the identification and standing of the bishops, ascetics, and lay those who undertook practices which differed in sort and context from the almsgiving practiced by means of pagans. It unearths how the almsgiving an important in developing the bishop's status used to be a co-operative activity the place honor used to be shared yet which uncovered the bishop to feedback and contention. Finn information how practices won that means from a discourse which recast conventional virtues of generosity and justice to render almsgiving a benefaction and resource of honor, and the way this development of idea and behavior interacted with classical styles to generate controversy. He argues that co-operation and pageant in Christian almsgiving, including the continuing lifestyles of conventional euergetism, intended that, opposite to the perspectives of modern students, Christian alms didn't flip bishops into the best consumers in their towns.

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Const. 3. 4. 2–3, SC 329. 126. Cf. Deut. 12: 6 and Lev. 23: 38, in Septuaginta, Vetus Testamentum Graecum Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis Editum, iii/2. Deuteronomium, ed. J. W. Wevers (Go¨ttingen, 1977), 175, and ii/2. Leviticus, ed. J. W. Wevers (Go¨ttingen, 1986), 256. 39 Ap. Const. 2. 36. 8, SC 320. 260. 40 Ap. Const. 2. 25. 2, SC 320. 228. 41 The sermon’s date is unknown, but its assertion that xenodocheia are now to be found throughout the inhabited world suggests a date no earlier than the late fourth century.

Canali, and C. ), Vita di Cipriano, Vita di Ambrogio, Vita di Agostino (Milan, 1975), 194. Episcopal Almsgiving 41 Regular giving It is extremely diYcult to establish the forms by which Christians made regular gifts of alms to the urban churches, and whether any standard form came to predominate in the later empire. This is in large part because gifts by the faithful are variously described by church orders, councils, preachers, and writers, so that we must judge where that variety reXects distinct types of giving rather than diVerent ways of speaking about the same realities.

Nissen (Leipzig, 1912), 17 and 18. 14 Chronicon paschale, PG 92. 729. Eng. tr. in M. Whitby and M. Whitby, Chronicon Paschale 284–628 AD (Liverpool, 1989), 30. ’ Chastel, E´tudes, 243. Episcopal Almsgiving 39 duty to hold a special collection for gaining alms when need arose. 16 Cyprian told how ‘everyone gave freely and generously’ to the fund (collatio), but as he also promised a list of the individual donors, either there was a general collection in which some gave far more than others, or only the wealthier members of the church were approached.

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