Paul's collection in light of motivations and mechanisms for aid to the poor in the first-century world
In the first-century world, discussion concerning one's money and what to do with it constituted delicate ground on which to tread. Such a discussion normally would have been undertaken only between the most closely related of people who shared a similar background and/or within a clear set of social expectations. Even then, talk of money could prove difficult territory to navigate. If this were true for people with much in common, then, when undertaken between people with fewer relational links, little or no shared culture or history, such a discussion could have presented any number of challenges, if not outright obstacles for all the participants. The Apostle Paul undertook just such a conversation, expending considerable time, thought and energy on the collection "for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem", referring to it in his letter to the Roman Christians and both letters addressed to the Christians at Corinth. This thesis will examine the collection in light of the bigger picture of motivations and mechanisms for aid to the poor and money movement in the first century Graeco-Roman and Jewish worlds. The objective is to render those motivations and mechanisms more clearly recognisable in the text and so to clarify their involvement in the conversation between Paul and the members of the churches to whom he wrote concerning the collection. What will emerge is a clearer understanding of the collection itself, a well-attested example of aid to the poor, a more nuanced understanding of the life of the early church for whom aid to the poor was a central tenet and practice, and a more balanced view of the Apostle Paul’s interactions with both his own churches and the Jerusalem church.