Savings for Redistributive Purposes: Stewardship of Wealth in the Teachings of Basil of Caesarea and John Chrysostom
This chapter examines how the Cappadocian Fathers—Basil of Caesarea in particular—and John Chrysostom viewed the acts of hoarding and saving in urban environments where the prosperity of elites was feasible at the expense of the less powerful. Savings were invested with new connotations, as they represented an effective means of alleviating extreme necessity but also an instrument of realizing the ideal of an equitable society on Earth. This necessitated a strong repudiation of the accumulation of wealth. In the absence of formally sanctioned state redistributive policies, church institutions and religious foundations could reorient financial resources with a view to mitigating extreme inequity. Responses to the problem of usury are also discussed as another practice mismanaging financial resources.