In an essay from 1979 I floated the idea that Paul’s collection-project for Jerusalem may have been used against him by his critics in the Galatian churches: “The Book of Galatians and the Jerusalem Collection,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 5(1979), pp. 46-62. In recent weeks, I’ve returned to that essay while reading Bruce Longenecker’s book, Remember the Poor: Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010).
Longenecker’s main aim in that book is to argue (contrary to the claims of some other scholars) that the Apostle Paul did promote support for the poor and needy in the early churches that he founded, and I find his case largely persuasive. In pursuing that aim, Longenecker also discusses attitudes toward the poor more generally in the pagan and Jewish contexts, estimates the economic stratification of the first-century world, and several other matters as well.
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