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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
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 11th 2018 by Harvard University Press (first published April 1st 2015)
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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
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Bohdana
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
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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
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Paul
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.
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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.

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