By Richard Finn
Richard Finn OP examines the importance of almsgiving in church buildings of the later empire for the id and standing of the bishops, ascetics, and lay those that undertook practices which differed in sort and context from the almsgiving practiced by way of pagans. It finds how the almsgiving an important in developing the bishop's status was once a co-operative job the place honor was once shared yet which uncovered the bishop to feedback and contention. Finn info how practices won which 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 trend of inspiration and behavior interacted with classical styles to generate controversy. He argues that co-operation and festival in Christian almsgiving, including the ongoing life of conventional euergetism, intended that, opposite to the perspectives of modern students, Christian alms didn't flip bishops into the ideally suited buyers in their towns.
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Extra info for Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire: Christian Promotion and Practice (313-450) (Oxford Classical Monographs)
161 To study Christian almsgiving is to oVer at least partial answers to these important questions. 160 Veyne, Bread and Circuses, p. xviii. , p. xxi. 2 Episcopal Almsgiving The presbyter Uranius wrote after his bishop’s death at Nola in 431 that Meropius Pontius Paulinus had, on his conversion to Christ, ‘opened his granaries to the poor’ (aperuit horrea sua pauperibus) and ‘opened up his store-rooms to all-comers’. 2 This allusion to a famed prototype of Christ, later made explicit, allows Paulinus’ gift of alms on renouncing a political career to function within the text as a proof of his conversion or conformity to Christ by so acting.
9 Bishop and donor would share the honour associated with the donation. What was said of Epiphanius explains why almsgiving might confer an exceptional moral authority on a bishop: a good reputation attracted further alms, which, once distributed, enhanced the cleric’s reputation to win even greater funds for disbursement. The same remark, however, also betrays an anxiety that not every bishop was so honest with gifts of this kind. The practice exposed the bishop and his clergy to charges of misappropriation, and a generous donor to charges of bribery.
32 But we cannot tell whether Commodian’s ‘treasury’ was a literal poor-box or metaphor. ’33 In his De opere et eleemosynis Cyprian attacks a rich woman at the Sunday Eucharist, who has overlooked the corban. ’34 Cyprian bids her, and so his readers, recall the example of the widow who placed her two last coins in the treasury (gazophylacium). It is possible that the wealthy woman is castigated simply for her failure to give alms during the week, but it is more likely that she has failed to place an oVering in the church poor-box.
Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire: Christian Promotion and Practice (313-450) (Oxford Classical Monographs) by Richard Finn