‘The Emergence of Poverty and the Poor’

(2009) Naoki Kamimura, ‘The Emergence of Poverty and the Poor in Augustine’s Early Works’, in: Geoffrey D. Dunn, David Luckensmeyer, and Lawrence Cross (eds.), Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church, 5 (Sydney: St Pauls Publications) 283–298.
Originally delivered at Prayer and Spirituality in the Early Church, 5th International Conference, held at St Patrick’s campus of Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, on 9 January 2008.
Illustrations showing how Augustine refers to poverty from the time of his youth may be taken from the Confessions and his other early writings, written in the period between 386 and 401. Augustine seems to use poverty as a synonym for the virtue of humility, although he does not affirm that poverty guarantees the possession of this virtue. While in his early treatises Augustine understands being poor and rich not only in a literal but also in a figurative way, he does not show the relevant figures as to the social and economic structure of the Christian community in Hippo Regius in the late fourth century. However, how exactly does Augustine provide the theological basis for which the truly poor is defined as those who possess wealth in the present life? This paper investigates how in his early works Augustine deals with the notion of wealth and poverty to get a theological viewpoint of human perfection, in which the human mind can attain the vision of God in this life, as, for example, Moses, Paul, and some of the apostles did.
Introduction — First descriptions of the poor and poverty (386-392) — Second descriptions of the poor and poverty (393-395) — Conclusion.
Paper proofs in PDF format downloadable.
Uncorrected Proofs: please cite the published version.