“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). One of the most difficult questions facing Christians today is that of the proper attitude toward possessions. In wealthy nations such as Britain and the USA, individuals accumulate much and yet are daily exposed to the plight of the poor, whether the homeless on their own city streets or starving children on their TV screens. What action should we take on behalf of the poor? What should we do with our own possessions?
Craig Blomberg asks what the Bible has to say about these issues. Avoiding easy answers, he instead seeks a comprehensive Biblical theology of possessions. And so he begins with the groundwork laid by the Old Testament and the ideas developed in the intertestamental period, then draws out what the whole New Testament has to say on the subject, and finally offers conclusions and applications relevant to our contemporary world. This is one book that all should read who are concerned with issues of poverty and wealth.
“2. Material possessions are simultaneously one of the primary means of turning human hearts away from God.” (Page 244)
“4. There are certain extremes of wealth and poverty which are in and of themselves intolerable.” (Page 245)
“The wealth of the patriarchs must therefore be understood within its clear covenantal context. This wealth is tied directly to God’s plan to give his people a special land. In the Christian era, in which believers do not live in a uniquely promised land, we must take care not to assume that wealth necessarily, or even frequently, represents God’s blessing.4 What is more, Genesis also consistently stresses that the patriarchs gave generously of their wealth. Abram allows Lot to choose the more fertile land (Gen. 13). This act ‘is recognized by most commentators as being set out as a model for his descendants to imitate’” (Page 36)
“It goes too far to say that one cannot be rich and be a disciple of Jesus, but what never appears in the Gospels are well-to-do followers of Jesus who are not simultaneously generous in almsgiving and in divesting themselves of surplus wealth for the sake of those in need.” (Page 145)
“Those already possessing property are entitled to protect it, but they must continue to work for opportunities for all others to own property and take care lest their own use of capital stand in the way of this good or even exploit the less well-to-do (Hartley 1992: 448). The sociology of the law codes in ancient Israel has been summarized thus: ‘In such a society private property is never used to oppress the neighbor, or as is the case in a capitalistic order of society, as means to come to more property. Instead it is used generously to entertain guests and to help the poor’ (von Waldow & Eberhard 1970: 186). Unlike neighbouring cultures, Israel’s law tended to place a higher priority on people than on property or social class (Gnuse 1985: 31).” (Pages 40–41)
On a subject as sensitive as this one, it is extraordinarily rare to find balance and prophetic voice rolled up in one. In my view, this is now the best book on the entire subject.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Craig Blomberg is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, where he has been teaching since 1986. Blomberg earned degrees from Augustana College, Trinity Divinity School, and Aberdeen University in Scotland. He previously taught at Palm Beach Atlantic College and spent one year in Cambridge as a research fellow with Tyndale House. He has been on translation committees for the New Living Translation, English Standard Version, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
Blomberg is the author, coauthor, or co-editor of numerous books and more than 80 articles in journals or multi-author works. A recurring topic of interest in his writings is the historical reliability of the Scriptures, and he has also covered such diverse issues as wealth and poverty, hermeneutics, and women in ministry. His books include Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, 2nd ed., Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: James, A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis, Making Sense of the New Testament, Preaching the Parables, and The NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians.