Historical Background: Early Christian Conceptions of Hoarding
This chapter overviews the socio-cultural setting underlying early Christian attitudes toward wealth creation, maintenance and distribution. Early Christian writers drew on distinct yet intertwined views on accumulating and hoarding wealth. The chapter highlights how New Testament authors elaborated on and appropriated, in a unique way, typical Jewish and Graeco-Roman conceptions of household management, including those pertinent to managing economic surplus. Hoarding was perceived as a means of perpetuating iniquity. It could be abolished by sharing resources or mitigated through the circulation of surplus in a wider regional setting. Otherwise, it was viewed as a morally perilous and socially detrimental activity, as alienation from brotherly communion, or as a practice entailing socio-political compromise that endangered faithfulness to Christ.