A new book: Poverty in the Early Church and Today—A Conversation

I’m delighted to announce the publication of a new book which I’ve co-edited with Hannah Swithinbank of Tearfund, Poverty in the Early Church and Today—A Conversation (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2019). Here’s an abstract for the whole book:

Poverty, its causes and alleviation, are a perennial concern for humanity, and particularly for Christians because of their belief that all people are made in God’s image, and therefore valued and valuable. This book offers creative engagement with issues concerning people in poverty by bringing into conversation perspectives from the earliest church and today’s world. The heart of the book is a collection of paired essays, one focusing on the first century and one on today’s globalised and interconnected world, looking at key themes: the causes of poverty; benefaction; patronage; fundraising in one place to help people in another place; dehumanization; the category of the ‘undeserving poor’; and the responsibilities of Christians, church and state for people in poverty. These essays are introduced by discussion of theological views of poverty, a case study of higher education and poverty, and two responses from biblical and contemporary angles.

Here are three brief reviews of the book:

“Most Christians at most times have believed that loving our neighbour was intimately connected with loving God. In an age where there is a rush to activism this volume is a deep well of refreshment as it addresses why we act and how our actions connect with the mission of God and how that mission has been worked out in different times and places. This volume will help us serve the world with intelligence and compassion.” –  David Westlake, Chief Executive Officer, International Justice Mission, UK

“This is a wonderful, rich and diverse conversation about poverty and how to respond to it. Bringing experts on New Testament and early Christianity into conversation with experts in modern strategies for addressing poverty – this volume showcases the best of applied theological conversation. A must-read for anyone interested in thinking theologically and practically about poverty in our modern world.” –  Paula R. Gooder, British and Foreign Bible Society, UK

“Academics and practitioners have contributed to this book that looks biblically, theologically and historically at issues relating to poverty. I have been ministering among the poor for almost four decades and am often at a loss to know how to respond to some complex issues I have faced. This book helpfully addresses some of those issues. I will be referring to it often. Both students and grassroots workers will be well served by this book.” –  Ajith Fernando, Youth for Christ, Sri Lanka

You can download the ‘front matter’ for the book here. It includes the title and contents pages, an introduction (‘How this book works’), two forewords by Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nicholls of Westminster and Bishop Graham Tomlin of Kensington, and the list of contributors.

Visit the publisher’s page about the book and get a discount on the price and access to a Google preview of most of the manuscript.

The book is an outcome of a fine conference on this theme at St Mary’s University, Twickenham (London)—a collaboration of the University’s Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible with Tearfund, Caritas (Diocese of Westminster), and the Bible Society—at which the essays were presented and many stimulating conversations had. There’s a report on the conference here.