Preaching Poverty in Late Antiquity: perceptions and realities

Pauline Allen, Bronwen Neil, Wendy Mayer

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


In 2002 the influential scholar of Late Antiquity, Peter Brown, published his book Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire in which he illustrates that prior to the rise in dominance of Christianity, the poor in society went unrecognized as an economic category corresponding with Greco-Roman understanding of patronage. By the end of the sixth century, rich and poor were not only accepted as a distinct social class, but the largesse of private citizens was now focused on the poor. The authors set out to test Brown's thesis amid growing interest in the poor and their role in early Christianity and in Late Antique society. They find that the development and its causes were more subtle and complex than Brown proposed. Furthermore, they analyze the degree to which existing civic patronage structures adhered in the Later Roman Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeipzig
PublisherEvangelische Verlagsanstalt GmbH
Number of pages252
ISBN (Print)9783374027286
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameArbeiten zur Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte
PublisherEvangelische Verlagsanstalt


  • poverty
  • Late Antiquity
  • rhetoric
  • sermons
  • letters


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