Biblioteca della Pontificia Università della Santa Croce Catalogo della Biblioteca

Brown, Peter, 1935-

The ransom of the soul : afterlife and wealth in early western Christianity / Peter Brown. - Cambridge, Massachusetts ; London : Harvard University Press, 2015. - xix, 262 p. : c. geogr. ; 22 cm.

Bibliogr.

Memory of the dead in early Christianity -- Visions, burial, and memory in the Africa of Saint Augustine -- Almsgiving, expiation, and the other world: Augustine and Pelagius, 410-430 AD -- Penance and the other world in Gaul -- The other world in this world: Gregory of Tours -- Columbanus, monasticism, and the other world.

Marking a departure in our understanding of Christian views of the afterlife from 250 to 650 CE, The Ransom of the Soul explores a revolutionary shift in thinking about the fate of the soul that occurred around the time of Rome's fall. Peter Brown describes how this shift transformed the church's institutional relationship to money and set the stage for its domination of medieval society in the West. Early Christian doctrine held that the living and the dead, as equally sinful beings, needed each other in order to achieve redemption. The devotional intercessions of the living could tip the balance between heaven and hell for the deceased. In the third century, money began to play a decisive role in these practices, as wealthy Christians took ever more elaborate steps to protect their own souls and the souls of their loved ones in the afterlife. They secured privileged burial sites and made lavish donations to churches. By the seventh century, Europe was dotted with richly endowed monasteries and funerary chapels displaying in marble splendor the Christian devotion of the wealthy dead. In response to the growing influence of money, church doctrine concerning the afterlife evolved from speculation to firm reality, and personal wealth in the pursuit of redemption led to extraordinary feats of architecture and acts of generosity. But it also prompted stormy debates about money's proper use -- debates that resonated through the centuries and kept alive the fundamental question of how heaven and earth could be joined by human agency. -- Marking a departure in our understanding of Christian views of the afterlife from 250 to 650 CE, "The Ransom of the Soul" explores a revolutionary shift in thinking about the fate of the soul that occurred around the time of Rome s fall. Peter Brown describes how this shift transformed the Church s institutional relationship to money and set the stage for its domination of medieval society in the West.Early Christian doctrine held that the living and the dead, as equally sinful beings, needed each other in order to achieve redemption. The devotional intercessions of the living could tip the balance between heaven and hell for the deceased. In the third century, money began to play a decisive role in these practices, as wealthy Christians took ever more elaborate steps to protect their own souls and the souls of their loved ones in the afterlife. They secured privileged burial sites and made lavish donations to churches. By the seventh century, Europe was dotted with richly endowed monasteries and funerary chapels displaying in marble splendor the Christian devotion of the wealthy dead.In response to the growing influence of money, Church doctrine concerning the afterlife evolved from speculation to firm reality, and personal wealth in the pursuit of redemption led to extraordinary feats of architecture and acts of generosity. But it also prompted stormy debates about money s proper use debates that resonated through the centuries and kept alive the fundamental question of how heaven and earth could be joined by human agency." -- Review: Brilliantly captures the hard-fought debate about alternatives to renunciation It is Peter Brown s great achievement to have demonstrated so clearly that what might be taken for granted as part of the common sense of Latin Christianity is tightly bound up with the history of the western Roman Empire and its dissolution in the fourth to sixth centuries.--Christopher Kelly"London Review of Books" (12/03/2015)"

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