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Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition

by Gary Anderson Yale University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 232 pages
AU$36.99 NZ$38.25
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Won an Award of Merit for the 2014 Christianity Today Book Award competition in the category of Biblical Studies.

Named one of the 10 Best Religion Books of 2013 by Religion News Service

Finalist for the 2014 American Academy of Religion Awards for Excellence in the Study of Religion, in the textual studies category.

It has long been acknowledged that Jews and Christians distinguished themselves through charity to the poor. Though ancient Greeks and Romans were also generous, they funded theatres and baths rather than poorhouses and orphanages. How might we explain this difference? In this significant reappraisal of charity in the biblical tradition, Gary Anderson argues that the poor constituted the privileged place where Jews and Christians met God. Though concerns for social justice were not unknown to early Jews and Christians, the poor achieved the importance they did primarily because they were thought to be “living altars,” a place to make a sacrifice, a loan to God that he, as the ultimate guarantor, could be trusted to repay in turn. Contrary to the assertions of Reformation and modern critiques, belief in a heavenly treasury was not just about self-interest. Sifting through biblical and postbiblical texts, Anderson shows how charity affirms the goodness of the created order; the world was created through charity and therefore rewards it.
'The award-winning author of Sin: A History provides another must-read for lay reader and scholar alike.'Publishers Weekly, starred review Publishers Weekly Ambitious . . . formidable . . . remarkably lucid.'Greg Carey, Christian Century Greg Carey Christian Century Unquestionably learned insightful. . . . An encouraging work of interreligious scholarship.John P. Langan, America John P. Langan America Won an Award of Merit for the 2014 Christianity Today Book Award competition in the category of Biblical Studies. Award of Merit Christianity Today Named one of the 10 Best Religion Books of 2013 by Religion News Service Religion News Service Wide-ranging and engagingMatthew L. Skinner, Christian Century Matthew L. Skinner Christian Century study . . . persuasively emphasises the spiritual and theological value of charitable works and may deepen the commitment of readers to embrace all peoples and all needs within the divine economy of charity.Hilmar M. Pabel, The Tablet Hilmar M. Pabel The Tablet Gary Anderson brilliantly illuminates the true place of almsgiving in the biblical and post-biblical tradition. His extraordinary, bold book changes entire fields of Christian theology and biblical scholarship once and for all.Matthew Levering, University of Dayton Matthew Levering Characteristically learned and wide-ranging, this book is a fascinating and timely call to revisit inherited assumptions about the sacramental connection between grace and charity. Markus Bockmuehl, University of Oxford Markus Bockmuehl Accessible, engaging, yet impressively learned, Charity will reward a wide range of readersreligious and secular, Jewish and Christian, scholarly and lay alike. Enthusiastically recommended!Jon D. Levenson, Harvard University Jon D. Levenson and ldquo;With rich detail and sophisticated analysis, Anderson makes clear that despite superficial similarities, biblical care for the poor is a much more robust and ambitious undertaking than charity and rsquo;s diminished modern forms. and rdquo; and mdash;Michael C. Legaspi, First Things Michael C. Legaspi First Things
Gary A. Anderson is Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame. He lives in South Bend, IN.