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Title: Economic stratification of first-century urban non-élites : a study of Roman society and the earliest Pauline communities
Author: Leung, Chun Ho Bernard
ISNI:       0000 0004 5356 984X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2014
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Twentieth-century scholarship on the social composition of the Pauline communities has focused on a binary model of the social structure of Roman society that posits a very small group of the élites and an enormous group of the non-élites. More recently, studies have tried to differentiate between strata within the non-élite groups by qualitatively identifying their economic conditions and quantitatively estimating the percentage distribution of each stratum. However, the major problem has been the lack of an economic reference line or a “poverty line” that would enable the meaningful comparison of different standards of living among the urban non-élites. This thesis aims to examine the economic strata of the non-élites in Roman society in the first century CE and estimates their standards of living by clarifying and establishing the concept of subsistence as an economic point of reference. This study first surveys the history of research on the social position of the earliest Christians in order to understand the debates of the twentieth century and the last decade. Then, the two levels of basic needs that are embedded in the concept of subsistence are explored and estimated: the “survival standard” and the “subsistence standard”. The former is more scientifically defined, while the latter focuses on aspects of social provision. The survival standard in the urban settings of the first century CE is used as a baseline to measure and compare the standards of living of various strata of non-élite groups such as unskilled workers, slaves, ordinary artisans, traders and professional artisans. Finally, once the economic stratification of the urban non-élites and their respective standards of living have been established, this framework is applied to the Pauline communities in Thessalonica, Philippi and Corinth in order to explain the issues of poverty, charity and wealth in the letters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pauline churches ; Social stratification ; Rome