Peter Brown, the world's foremost scholar of late antiquity, 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.
"[O]utstanding. . . . Brown lays before us a vast panorama of the entire culture and society of the late Roman west."--Peter Thornemann, Times Literary Supplement
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".