Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JBTM 15:1 (Spring 2018) p. 100
[Electronic Edition Editor’s Note: The footnotes in the print edition restarted with each individual book review. In this edition they have simply been numbered consecutively. The original numbers have been retained within the body of the footnote text.]
All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians. By Roman A. Montero. Eugene, OR: Resource, 2017. 146 pages. Paperback, $16.00.
All Things in Common is an interesting, yet controversial, book. Montero is favorable towards communist ideology and, as a result, he chose to adopt communist language. He made a deliberate effort to distance himself from the ideologies of the Soviet Union and communist China. Nevertheless, many readers will find Montero’s use of communist language and criticism of capitalism to be off-putting. However, regardless of his political or ideological proclivities, Montero made a coherent and well-researched argument that should be evaluated without bias.
Montero presented two major arguments. First, he argued that “the accounts found in Acts 2:42–47 and Acts 4:32–37 describe historical economic practices found within the early Christian community,” which “were taken very seriously” and “were widespread over different Christian communities around the Roman world,” lasting “at least well into the second century” (5). Second, he argued that “these economic practices were grounded in both Jewish and Christian theology and had precedent in Jewish tradition and practice; as well as the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth” (5).
Montero developed his arguments over ten chapters. In chapter 1, he explored the economic, social, and political background of first-century Palestine. He argued that Christianity began in an environment that was marked by economic disparity and class conflict. In chapter 2, Montero described the methodological framework that he would use throughout the book. He drew on the ideas of the anthropologist David Graeber and others to develop a model for understanding the economic practices of early Christianity. Graeber suggested three types of economic relationships: hierarchy, exchange, and communism. In his model, communism is defined as “any inter-personal relationship that functions on the basis of ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,’ no matter where it is found and no matter its size or scope” (18). Montero divided communist relationships into two types, informal and formal. In chapter 3, Montero argued that the Essenes practiced communism and may have influenced the early Christians. In chapter 4, he claimed that in the Greco-Roman wor...
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