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Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (New Studies in Biblical Theology) [Paperback]

By Craig L. Blomberg (Author)
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Item description for Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by Craig L. Blomberg...

In NEITHER POVERTY NOR RICHES, Craig Blomberg asks what the Bible has to say to these issues. He avoids easy answers, and instead seeks a comprehensive biblical theology of possessions. Beginning with the groundwork laid by the Old Testament and the ideas developed in the intertestamental period, he draws out what the whole New Testament has to say on the subject and finally offers conclusions and applications reverant to the modern world.

Publishers Description
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? In Neither Poverty nor Riches 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. Neither Poverty Nor Riches is one book that all should read who are concerned with issues of poverty and wealth.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: IVP Academic
Pages   300
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.46" Width: 5.62" Height: 0.93"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2001
Publisher   IVP Academic
Series  New Studies in Biblical Theology  
Series Number  7  
ISBN  0830826076  
ISBN13  9780830826070  

Availability  2 units.
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More About Craig L. Blomberg

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Craig L. Blomberg (PhD, Aberdeen University) is distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. He is the author of numerous books, including The Historical Reliability of the Gospels and Interpreting the Parables. Sung Wook Chung (DPhil, Oxford University) is associate professor of Christian theology at Denver Seminary. He is the author of Admiration and Challenge: Karl Barth's Theological Relationship with John Calvin and editor of Christ the One and Only: A Global Affirmation of the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

Craig L. Blomberg currently resides in the state of Colorado.

Craig L. Blomberg has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 3 Crucial Questions
  2. Biblical Theology for Life
  3. Comentarios Biblicos Con Aplicacion NVI
  4. New American Commentary New Testament
  5. New Studies in Biblical Theology
  6. NIV Application Commentary
  7. Perspectives (B&H Publishing)
  8. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on New Testament

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Reviews - What do customers think about Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (New Studies in Biblical Theology)?

Precisely what it purports to be, and well done at that.  Feb 19, 2008
Craig Blomberg consistently offers among the most deeply researched, carefully considered and clearly organized, well articulated, biblically-based theological studies available. I have read numbers of his treatments of historicity of Biblical documents, and have read his volumes studying the Gospels and New Testament from theological, critical and historic perspectives. He is consistently fair and I believe forthcoming in identifying those who disagree with his work, and equally consistent in treating his critics and those with whom he disagrees with respect in his written analysis and rebuttal.

In his body of work, over his career, Blomberg regularly references the question of Christian ethics, discipleship and potential distraction from and confusion of the chief end of followers of Christ relating to wealth and materialism. He himself offers that he and his wife have, after careful study and consideration, elected to contribute substantially more than a tithe of 10% of their annual income, but closer to 40%. Both Dr. Blomberg's concerns and his personal leadership in acting on those concerns are out in front, fully disclosed, for those of us who want to know where he stands, personally, on these issues.

Because I have seen the references to this issue in earlier studies of New Testament documents and the Gospels by Dr. Blomberg, I was anxious to read his study focusing on the theology of possessions in this volume. The text is among the most accessible of Dr. Blomberg's work, minimizing footnotes and technical exegetical, socio-historical, critical and theological discussion, presenting the discussion in a very direct, easy to follow manner. Yet, Blomberg touches on each and all of these aspects of the discussion, and provides ample bibliographic references for deeper study should the reader wish to pursue a more detailed, exhaustive and technical course. You may, in any event, "skip the footnotes" and get the thrust of the book without missing any critical element.

As said, the book may not be, and is not intended to be, exhaustive. However, it is rather thorough and complete in bringing together the background of Old Testament, Inter-Testamentary, Extra-Biblical and New Testament literature to provide context, continuity and coherence to the volume's discussion and conclusions. Some discussion presumes an understanding on the part of the reader for covenant and dispensationalist, reformed and Roman Catholic theological principles. Blomberg is, as seems typical for his work, careful to qualify those points argued from silence, assumption and inference by himself and other writers.

The reader will gain a good grounding in the applicability of Old Testament covenental, legal and rabbinical teaching to the problem of wealth and its proper treatment, as well as limitations, in the context of the New Testament and Christianity. Likewise, Blomberg points to likely avenues to analogize and, in some cases, avoid analogy, between New Testament context, cultural milieu and socio-economic circumstances and those facing present-day Christians. Numbers of differing interpretations are discussed, and treated however briefly, by Blomberg before reaching the conclusions he clearly, unambiguously, identifies as his own supported by reasons he states from the discussion. Dr. Blomberg is unflinching, it seems to me, in his addressment of both "success theology" and "liberation theology"--both of which he argues lack robust, credible Biblical support. He respectfully explains why he sees it that way.

Dr. Blomberg does not find support for the view that Jesus himself was indigent or impoverished, denounced personal ownership of possessions and means, or avoided the occassional lavish meal, party or other display. Nor does he suggest the disciples were required to give up all personal property, or access to gainful employment. He discusses problems with accepting Christ's parables and other teachings as literal and specifically directed to present-day earthly materialism, finance and possessions; or, conversely, brushing them aside as purely arguing from allegory and analog using money and wealth as proxies for spiritual well-being.

While Blomberg provides no comfort to those who believe their conduct as Christians on earth is rewarded by material and worldly success as an end to itself, he also finds no merit in a conclusion that the "poor" are acceptable to God and deserving of special salvonic treatment merely because they are poor. Nor does he find any real support for a thesis that the "rich" are less acceptable to God merely because they are rich. Blomberg finds facets of modern capitalism addressed, but not capitalism as we know it today; and, he finds any attempt to find Marxism in the pages of the New Testament generally and the teachings of Jesus specifically misplaced. As is the case with socialism. Blomberg does a good job explaining the context of the social and economic system in Judea and Galilee in Jesus's day, and distinguishing communalism from communism.

Yet, as the title of the book suggests moderation and a middle-ground on the ultimate question, so Dr. Blomberg finds the teachings of both the Old and New Testament cut across all modern-day political, social and economic systems to advocate socio-economic concerns that overlap and transcend both theology and politics. And among the various enumerated criteria for consideration distilled from the scripture and its study in the book, none features more clearly than taking the measure of any system, church, or person based on how they treat the marginalized.

In the end, Blomberg finds no support for condemnation of wealth per se, but a responsibility born of Christly stewardship in the use of that wealth to advance the needs of marginalized people in the name of Christ and His Gospel. Excess for personal gratification is a problem. Distraction from Christly pursuits and the Gospel mission is a confusion, and therefore a problem. God places those he so chooses to endow with wealth in that position to do His work, to seek His glory--or, possibly as a test. This responsibility carries over through Christians as a whole, the institutional church and the Church Universal, to seek justice for the poor and marginalized. The action is expressly through the efforts of Christians acting individually and in concert, NOT by the compulsary means of the power of the state.

Are there structural barriers to the equitable distribution of financial and material resources to all peoples across the globe today? Inarguable. Is addressment of those barriers and undertaking efforts to reach all peoples, however financially, socially and politically marginalized they are, a Christly virtue in furtherance of the New Commandment and a chief means by which we might advance the Gospel message by contact with these peoples and exemplifying the teachings of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior? It is. Is their a clear litmus test for each of us individually as to how we use the blessings before us, material and spiritual, in this world? Discernment according to what the scripture teaches and the as the Spirit guides us. So Dr. Blomberg leaves us to ask ourselves the question: a new high performance sports car, or financing a mission program attempting to reach the Dalits, or Untouchables, of India? His treatment of these issues and problems is balanced, and not the least heavy-handed. But, in the end, his treatment of these issues and problems is very clear to the reader, who must wrestle with their own position in light of the points made.

Is the end result a call to monasticism or aeseticism? To the contrary. Is guilt inflicted on those who are blessed with enormous wealth, and those who have significant financial and material resources? I, personally, did not find the thrust of the text to be that at all. The call is to moderation, and to guard against the distraction, confusion and temptation extraordinary wealth and all that comes with it may bring. Dr. Blomberg's conclusions certainly feature social justice and compassion for the indigent and needy, as did the ministry of Jesus Christ. But he does not conclude we must all live just above the poverty line. We should avoid excess except where the glory of God is concerned, and in regards to material wealth in this life pursue a balance of "neither poverty nor", I would add in relative terms and to clarify, excessive, "riches", which we direct solely to our self-gratification and personal glorification rather than the glory of God. The precise line above poverty at which we choose to balance our personal material wealth is in our discernment--but, we must SEEK that discernment by self-examination and the request that the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts.

Blomberg provides some clarity, and comfort, that Godly, Christly behavior does not guarantee material or worldly success granted from God, and we should not expect it. In fact, taking up the cross of Christ and following Him is expressly stated to be a difficult path, even dangerous to the point of costing us "all", materially, but rewarding us "all" spiritually in the sense of our eternal souls. But, we also should understand the focus of New Testament teaching, while looking forward to everlasting life without material considerations, tells us in the here and now we must do what we can with what God gives us. Those who seem, despite living a Christian life to the best of their ability, to be failures and marginalized in this world must not despair that God has declined their service or refused to acknowledge them. As Christians, we should look upon one another with honor AS Christians, not based upon our relative socio-economic or political status in worldly terms. Blomberg's theological perspective on New Testament Kingdom theology informs most of his discussion.

The book continuously caveats, by reference to scripture and the larger historic and cultural context of the times, that neither wealth nor poverty are evil or virtuous in themselves. We are reminded God is no respecter of persons, and all have fallen short of the Glory of God, utterly lost but for the price paid by Jesus Christ on the cross. As such, we must reach out to those less fortunate when we believe it may serve God's purposes, and we must respect and honor one another as Christians without regard to our worldly station.

After reading his treatment of the subject, I for one have a clearer understanding of where my duty and responsibility as a Christian resides. A fine discussion, well supported and very readable.
Unmissable tour de force of the Bible on possessions  Feb 13, 2008
Blomberg has written a deeply passionate, winsome, measured, pastorally sensitive, prophetic book to the church in the wealthy part of the world (that part that can afford to buy books!).

He has also written a brilliantly polemic, thoroughly scholarly Biblical Theology of money and possessions. They are the same book, which is amazing.

His introduction is gripping by showing some stark statistics on our wealth and what we do with it. US Christians spend more on flowers than overseas mission; if conservative Christians in the US tithed, we could pay the financial cost of wiping out world poverty and increase missionary giving to boot. (While the intro is US-centric, it was still helpful and convicting for this UK-based reader.) He moves on to lay out the broad players on the Christian playing field of theology of money.

Next, he goes through major themes and important passages in the OT (by various sections) the intertestamental background to the NT, and then the NT. This is a wonderful resource, as his careful and well-researched exegesis of key texts and his laying out of the concerns of the Bible is masterful. Even where one isn't convinced, it is a very valuable resource. Each of the above sections has a summary and conclusion. In fact, the whole book is written to make reading and studying as easy as possible.

Finally, Blomberg the pastor writes a very helpful conclusion and shares the kinds of decisions his family has had to make. I won't include spoilers here!

Even where I'm left not quite with him on some major details of his overall conclusion, I still say unquestioningly that this has been the greatest and best influence on me on the subject of possessions, and wholeheartedly recommend reading the book.
Very Thorough  Jan 20, 2008
This book is very thoughtful. I truly enjoyed the scholarship and the insight. I highly recommend it.
Not what it purports to be  Jun 20, 2007
This author takes up an offense for the poor against the wealthy categorizing those with wealth - all western cizilization - as the reason many/most poor cannot escape structural poverty despite their efforts. The perspective is not completely unfair looking at the history of fallen man and his abuse of his brother, but this bias limits the credibility of the premise of the book as a Biblical Theology of possessions. Unfortunately this bias causes the author to ignore important Biblical principles in order to make his point. I was very disappointed. I did, however, find his chapter summaries to be helpful.

Great Biblical academic study  Jan 10, 2007
As a Christian financial advisor, this is a great book to help me understand the Bible's view of money. I wish to help my clients see money not as an end goal but as a tool to use to spread God's kingdom. This book is a great tool to help me understand those Biblical principles. The writing is very thorough and academic and may be dry to the common layman, and not every chapter is very applicable on a daily basis, but that really isn't the point of the book. For someone who wants to understand the overall view of money in the Bible, this would be a valuable reference.

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