Peter Brown's three lectures presented in honor of Menahem Stern, here now in print, trace how the incorporation of Christianity into the later Roman Empire (300 - 600 CE) gradually defined, and ultimately broadened, the definition of "the poor" as people depending on the empire for justice and charity. Brown argues the church and empire held a symbiotic relationship wherein the church gained official power in exchange for taking on the empire's problem of the poor. Along with citing recent scholarly works, Brown's historical approach relies heavily upon letters, sermons, edicts, financial records, and other primary sources to clearly illustrate the attitude of the later empire.
Brown presents a rousing study of the gradual adaptation of Christian charity into the Roman Empire in which he dutifully grounds his arguments in primary and secondary sources. Covering the social, economic, political, and theological ramifications of Christianity's rise in the later empire, Brown provides a relevant study useful not only to scholars of ancient Christianity but also to others studying economics and power. Ripe with clearly articulated arguments and well-applied evidence, Brown's book proves an accessible, yet wholly academic, study of wealth in the emerging influence of Christianity in the later Roman Empire.