Peter Brown Wins 2013 Philip Schaff Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Winner of the 2013 Philip Schaff Prize, American Society of Church History

The Philip Schaff Prize is an award in the amount of $2,000 to the author of the best book published in the two previous calendar years, originating in the North American scholarly community, which presents original research on any period in the history of Christianity, or makes a significant synthesizing scholarly contribution.  According to Dr. Keith Francis, Executive Secretary of ASCH, “The members of the committee described Through the Eye of a Needle as a ‘tour de force,’ a ‘magisterial study,’ and a ‘work of astonishing erudition.’  High praise indeed!  I was even more impressed by the comment that you had written ‘a brilliant synthesis of other scholars’ work as well as the harvest of your own five-decade career.” The prize will be awarded at ASCH’s next business meeting in Washington DC on January 4, 2014. For more information, click here.

k9807Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown, the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity, examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

 

New Religion Catalog

Be among the first to browse and download our new religion catalog!

Of particular interest are the new additions to the Lives of Great Religious Books series including The Book of Common Prayer by Alan Jacobs, Thomas Aquinas’s Summa theologiae by Bernard McGinn, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali by David Gordon White, and more. The new series is comprised of short volumes that recount the complex and fascinating histories of important religious texts from around the world. Written for general readers by leading authors and experts, these books examine the historical origins of texts from the great religious traditions, and trace how their reception, interpretation, and influence have changed—often radically—over time. As these stories of translation, adaptation, appropriation, and inspiration dramatically remind us, all great religious books are living things whose careers in the world can take the most unexpected turns.

Even more foremost titles in religion can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the annual meeting hosted by the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature in Baltimore, MD November 23rd through the 26th, come visit us at booth 345, and follow us on Twitter @PrincetonUPress for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

Daniel B. Schwartz Named Co-Winner of 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize

Daniel B. Schwartz – The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image
Co-Winner of the 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize, American Academy for Jewish Research

The American Academy for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the winners of its annual Salo Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish studies published in 2012…The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image [is a] commanding piece of intellectual history that traces the image of Spinoza in a number of different geo-cultural contexts. The prize committee found Schwartz’s authoritative grasp of each of them, from Spinoza’s own time, to eighteenth-century Germany, nineteenth-century East Central Europe, and twentieth-century Palestine, truly remarkable for a scholar for whom this is a first book. The book rests on careful and precise terminological apparatus, as well as on a graceful and compelling writing style.

The Baron Prize honors the memory of the distinguished historian Salo W. Baron, a long-time president of the AAJR, who taught at Columbia University for many decades. It is…one of the signal honors that can be bestowed on a young scholar in Jewish studies and a sign of the excellence, vitality, and creativity in the field.

The First Modern JewPioneering biblical critic, theorist of democracy, and legendary conflater of God and nature, Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was excommunicated by the Sephardic Jews of Amsterdam in 1656 for his “horrible heresies” and “monstrous deeds.” Yet, over the past three centuries, Spinoza’s rupture with traditional Jewish beliefs and practices has elevated him to a prominent place in genealogies of Jewish modernity. The First Modern Jew provides a riveting look at how Spinoza went from being one of Judaism’s most notorious outcasts to one of its most celebrated, if still highly controversial, cultural icons, and a powerful and protean symbol of the first modern secular Jew.

Ranging from Amsterdam to Palestine and back again to Europe, the book chronicles Spinoza’s posthumous odyssey from marginalized heretic to hero, the exemplar of a whole host of Jewish identities, including cosmopolitan, nationalist, reformist, and rejectionist. Daniel Schwartz shows that in fashioning Spinoza into “the first modern Jew,” generations of Jewish intellectuals–German liberals, East European maskilim, secular Zionists, and Yiddishists–have projected their own dilemmas of identity onto him, reshaping the Amsterdam thinker in their own image. The many afterlives of Spinoza are a kind of looking glass into the struggles of Jewish writers over where to draw the boundaries of Jewishness and whether a secular Jewish identity is indeed possible. Cumulatively, these afterlives offer a kaleidoscopic view of modern Jewish cultureand a vivid history of an obsession with Spinoza that continues to this day.

Daniel B. Schwartz is assistant professor of history at George Washington University.

Peter Brown Receives Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, McGill University

“The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize.”

Six books have moved on to the shortlist; the winner will be announced on November 20th in Toronto. Peter Brown’s book did not make the shortlist, but was recognized by the jury with an honorable mention (one of only two books so honored).

For more information about this award and event, click here.

Through the Eye of the Needle

 Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

Two for Tuesday – Muslim Brotherhood & Egypt after Mubarak

Announcing two timely books rich in detail and insight that you will want to read to keep up with world events. We invite you to read chapters online from each book.

j9948The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement
by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham.   
We invite you to read chapter 1 online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9948.pdf

The Muslim Brotherhood has achieved a level of influence nearly unimaginable before the Arab Spring. The Brotherhood was the resounding victor in Egypt’s 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, and six months later, a leader of the group was elected president. Yet the implications of the Brotherhood’s rising power for the future of democratic governance, peace, and stability in the region is open to dispute. Drawing on more than one hundred in-depth interviews as well as Arabic language sources not previously accessed by Western researchers, Carrie Rosefsky Wickham traces the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its founding in 1928 to the fall of Mubarak and the watershed elections of 2011-2012.

Carrie Rosefsky Wickham is associate professor of political science at Emory University. She is the author of Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt.

j9996rNow in paperback with a new introduction by the author
Egypt after Mubarak:
Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World
by Bruce K. Rutherford
We invite you to read chapter 1 online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9996.pdf

Which way will Egypt go now that Husni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime has been swept from power? Will it become an Islamic theocracy similar to Iran? Will it embrace Western-style liberalism and democracy? Egypt after Mubarak reveals that Egypt’s secularists and Islamists may yet navigate a middle path that results in a uniquely Islamic form of liberalism and, perhaps, democracy. Bruce Rutherford draws on in-depth interviews with Egyptian judges, lawyers, Islamic activists, politicians, and businesspeople. He utilizes major court rulings, political documents of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the writings of Egypt’s leading contemporary Islamic thinkers. Rutherford demonstrates that, in post-Mubarak Egypt, progress toward liberalism and democracy is likely to be slow.

Bruce K. Rutherford is associate professor of political science at Colgate University.