Historical Background: Early Christian Conceptions of Hoarding

  • Gerasimos Merianos
  • George Gotsis
Part of the New Approaches to Byzantine History and Culture book series (NABHC)


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.


Ancient economy Roman economy New Testament social world Oikonomia (household management) Wealth accumulation Distribution of surplus 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Historical ResearchNational Hellenic Research FoundationAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceNational and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece

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