Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity” as Want to Read:
The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  96 ratings  ·  8 reviews
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year
A Tablet Book of the Year

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 insti
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 11th 2018 by Harvard University Press (first published April 1st 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ransom of the Soul, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Ransom of the Soul

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  96 ratings  ·  8 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity
Jo Walton
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing, excellent, a model of clarity and fascinating, must read everything else Brown has ever written.

This book looks in detail about changing Christian views on the afterlife, almsgiving, and sin, over a crucial period of Late Antiquity, and it does it in luminous prose and with compassion and understanding. Brown shows us what things meant when they were written, not as they were later read, and then how they were later read in changed times. He takes away the filters we use to see things s
The author attempts to show the change in view of the afterlife during the period of around 250 to around 650 AD. His thesis is very focused (as in the title, is about how alms, money, and prayer were given in exchange for forgiveness of sins in the afterlife and building up "treasure in heaven").

Several themes and topic are mentioned were the debated of if the soul is material or immaterial, the question of if rituals could help protect a dead soul in it's journey, if a soul had to wait around
sam tannehill
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every book I read by Peter Brown is extremely interesting! His books are very focused, so be prepared! The thesis is always clearly stated in the sub-title and in the table of contents. So if you are reading one of his books and you feel inundated with detail, take a step back and review the general information to regain your footing. The Epilogue of this book is especially important and interesting. Four stars! Minus one star because I got sidetracked in the third chapter.
Selina R Gonzalez
(Read for a history class on Medieval Christianity)
I really enjoyed this book. Brown's writing style flows nicely and is easy and nice to read. His argument, I thought (although apparently some other students disagreed), was clear and well-presented. He does a good job of tracking changes in Christian theology about death and the afterlife from about 250-650 CE/AD, and an excellent job placing those changes in their historical socio-economic context to understand both why the changes occurred an
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at Early Christian view of death, the afterlife and the giving of alms to better secure ones place in heaven. Professor Brown's engaging and clear writing style, and his extensive use of comparisons and contrasts between different periods greatly assist the general reader to understand the role wealth played in the evolution of Christian beliefs and customs. ...more
Andy Smith
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always with Peter Brown, a must read. An insightful and engaging look at the relationship between wealth and the afterlife, focused on the late and post-Roman West.
Richard Anderson
Fine review of this period.
rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2015
rated it liked it
Sep 21, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2017
rated it did not like it
Sep 28, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jan 09, 2016
rated it liked it
Apr 02, 2017
Vanni Pulé
rated it it was amazing
Jan 17, 2021
rated it it was amazing
Jul 14, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2016
rated it liked it
Nov 28, 2020
Cher Chao
rated it it was amazing
Mar 31, 2021
Mr. D. George
rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Nov 06, 2016
Monika Schreiber
rated it really liked it
May 04, 2017
rated it really liked it
Nov 02, 2015
Steven C.
rated it really liked it
Jun 30, 2020
Michael Hubany
rated it it was ok
Aug 05, 2015
Brais Lamela gómez
rated it it was amazing
May 14, 2017
rated it liked it
Aug 28, 2020
rated it it was amazing
Mar 25, 2019
Emilio Manzorro
rated it it was amazing
Jun 01, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife
  • Der falsche Preuße
  • 12 Tage und ein halbes Jahrhundert: Eine Geschichte des deutschen Kaiserreiches 1871-1918
  • Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
  • Notes on Camp
  • The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth
  • The Triumph of Christianity: How a Small Band of Outcasts Conquered an Empire
  • On a Sunbeam
  • Meditations
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology
  • Grey Eminence
  • Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1)
  • On the Incarnation
  • Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis
  • The Histories
See similar books…
There is more than one author with this name.

Peter Robert Lamont Brown FBA is Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His principal contributions to the discipline have been in the field of Late Antiquity. His work has concerned, in particular, the religious culture of the later Roman Empire and early medieval Europe, and the relation between religion and society.

[NB This is

Related Articles

“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
41 likes · 8 comments
“At the same time, radical Pelagian tracts, such as the de divitiis—the relentlessly argued “Treatise on Riches”—had advocated the total renunciation of property by the rich.27 The author of this tract extended his plea for total renunciation to include a consequential denunciation of the existence of wealth in the first place: Tolle divitem et pauperem non invenies (Get rid of the rich and you will find no poor) was one of his many provocative slogans.” 1 likes
“This view of Tertullian should not be confused with the tradition of “Christian mortalism” that has survived in some circles up to today. In “Christian mortalism,” the soul of the dead person is believed to be unconscious—as good as dead—until awakened again at the Resurrection and the Last Judgment. For Tertullian, the souls of the departed never lapsed into total unconsciousness. Rather, they lived a suspended, interim existence, waiting for the next great act in the drama of God’s salvation to begin:” 0 likes
More quotes…