The Impact of Poverty in Antiquity
Monday, April 24, 2023
Presenter: Dr. Shirley Paulson
with guest scholar Dr. Susan (Elli) Elliott
What does it mean to be poor in antiquity? What did Jesus think about it? What should we think about it today? These questions have been answered in a whole variety of ways throughout Christian history, and even today there are mixed feelings about it. In addition to the well-known passages in the Bible that concern wealth and poverty, many of the extracanonical texts address the question also. In this Bible and Beyond Discussion, we’ll take a closer look at the frequent references to “Fullness” and “Deficiency” that appear in many of the lesser-known texts. They seem closely connected to wealth and poverty. But they also seem to be terms that take on the characteristics of a place to dwell. In the Dialogue of the Savior, for example, one can be “in a place of deficiency.” So, money, possessions, and spiritual abundance are all tied together in intriguing ways. Our guest scholar will be Dr. Susan (Elli Elliott), who will give us some background on understanding poverty in antiquity and why that matters when we consider the use and meaning of these related terms.
Gospel of Thomas
Thom. 3:5 “But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are poverty.”
Thom. 29:3 “Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has taken up residence in this poverty.”
The Thought of Norea
“Days will come when she will attain fullness and no longer be in deficiency. She has four holy helpers who interceded for her with the Father of the All.”
Dialogue of the Savior
139.13 The disciples asked him (Jesus), “What is fullness and what is deficiency?” He answered them, “You are from fullness, and you are in a place of deficiency.”
Secret Revelation of John
Ch 14:24-26 – The holy Spirit poured over her (Sophia) something from their entire Fullness. For her partner did not come to her by himself, but it was through the Fullness that he came to her in order that he might correct (heal) her deficiency.
Ch 23: 38 – They will be admitted into that place where the angels of poverty go, the place where repentance does not occur.
Ch. 25:6 – 16 – They brought gold, silver, a gift and copper… beguiled the human beings…into great troubles buy leading them astray into much error.
Ch. 27: 11 – Cursed be anyone who should exchange these things for a gift, whether for food or drink or clothing or anything else of this kind.