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Posted October 27, 2004

Book: There Shall be no Poor Among You: Poverty in the Bible
Author: Leslie J. Hoppe, O.F.M.
Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, pp.197

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

This book deals with motifs that occur throughout the Bible: the poor and poverty. Its purpose is to determine how the Bible can help individual believers and communities of faith shape their response to the poor and poverty today. One assumption behind this study is that the Bible can indeed tell us something important not only about spiritual concerns, but material concerns as well. But anyone who begins to study what the Bible says about these motifs will notice that there is a wide variety of affirmations made about poverty in the Bible. For example, sometimes the Bible speaks of poverty as a curse: “My child, do not lead the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg. When one looks to the table of another, one’s way of life cannot be considered a life.” Other texts assert that it is a blessing: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Sometimes the text is concerned exclusively about material poverty; other times poverty becomes a metaphor for another reality. The approach taken here is to describe the variety of ways the books that make up the Bible deal with the poor.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Scriptures do not demand that believers adopt any one economic system whose principles are applicable to every age. What the Bible does expect of believers is that they respond with imagination, creativity, and generosity to the evils of every economic system. The Torah presents the ideals. The prophets reflect how ancient Israel failed to live out those ideals. Apocalyptic gives a vision of the future that assures believers that whatever they do to bring about the triumph of justice will not be in vain; the triumph of the poor is certain. The Gospels tell of Jesus, who called the poor “blessed” and spent his ministry reaching out to those on the margins of the Jewish community. Believers recognize that poverty is a creation of those who refuse to live according to the ideals of Torah and the gospel; they are confident that, with God’s help, they can overcome human selfishness and sin so that these ideals will one day give shape to human existence and “there shall be no poor” among them.

Table of Contents:

Chapter one: The Torah

Chapter two: The former porphets

Chapter three: The latter prophets

Chapter four: Wisdom literature

Chapter five: The psalms

Chapter six: Apocalyptic literature

Chapter seven: The New Testament

Chapter eight: The Rabbinic tradition