Paul prominently mentioned his collection for the church in Jerusalem in his epistles to the Romans and to the Corinthians. Downs minutely investigates the historical, cultural, and theological meaning of such a gesture within its Greco-Roman background, bringing us to a deeper understanding of its true significance. 224 pages, softcover. Eerdmans.
The monetary fund that the apostle Paul organized among his Gentile congregations for the Jewish-Christian community in Jerusalem was clearly an important endeavor to Paul; discussion of it occupies several prominent passages in his letters. In this book David Downs carefully investigates that offering from historical, sociocultural, and theological standpoints.
Downs first pieces together a chronological account of Pauls fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Jerusalem church, based primarily on information from the Pauline epistles. He then examines the sociocultural context of the collection, including gift-giving practices in the ancient Mediterranean world relating to benefaction and care for the poor. Finally, Downs explores how Paul framed this contribution rhetorically as a religious offering consecrated to God.
David J. Downs is associate professor of New Testament studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of Alms:Charity, Reward, and Atonement in Early Christianity.
Richard S. Ascough in Religious Studies Review
"Erudite and convincing, this book is the new touchpoint for future research on Pauls collection for the Jerusalem church."
Joshua W. Jipp in Themelios
"A tightly argued, well-written, and thorough study of Pauls collection. . . . What is so refreshing about Downss work is his skillful ability to engage in historical and sociocultural work as well as providing a significant theological interpretation of Pauls religious rhetoric."
Beverly Roberts Gaventa (from foreword)
"David Downss book on the place of the collection in Pauls letters will make it exceedingly difficult to maintain [the common] bifurcation between Pauls spiritual message and his physical concerns. . . . The Offering of the Gentiles is a challenge to all readers of Paul to understand the holistic character of his message."