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Trade

(3,193 words)

Author(s): Hengstmengel, Joost W.
Even though the ancient world was primarily agrarian, local and interregional trade was widely practiced. In the first centuries of the Common Era, Christians mainly belonged to the middle and lower classes, and included farmers, artisans, and slaves. In due course, (wealthier) merchants and tradesmen must also have joined the church. Tertullian responded to the accusation that those who bear the name of Christians are “unfruitful in business” ( infructuosi in negotiis) by saying that Christians could be found among a wide range of occupations. They practiced agric…
Date: 2020-12-17

Wealth

(6,145 words)

Author(s): Hengstmengel, Joost W.
Social thought featured prominently in the early church’s theology. Rather than a byproduct, it was central to early Christian eschatology and soteriology (Rhee, 2012). The imitation of Christ involved adopting the right attitudes toward God and, connected inseparably with this, toward the neighbor. The centrality of social issues is manifested by the sheer number of patristic texts devoted to them. One modern anthology (Sierra Bravo, 1967) contains nearly 1,000 pages of relevant passages. The s…
Date: 2020-12-17

Usury

(3,231 words)

Author(s): Hengstmengel, Joost W.
Denoting today an excessive rate of interest, in late antiquity the term “usury” (τόκος, usura, foenus) more generally referred to any interest on a loan, irrespective of the amount or type, in money or in kind. Contemporary Christian writers loosely defined usury as “what redounds to the loan” ( fenoris redundantia; Tert. Marc. 4.17) or “whatever is added to the capital” ( quodcunque sorti accedit; Ambr. Tob. 14.49). In even plainer terms, a usurer was he who reclaimed more than the principal of a loan (Bas. Hom. II Ps. XIV 1).Interest collecting was one of the social issues that th…
Date: 2020-12-17