The Salvific Effects of Almsgiving and the Moral Status of the Poor in Talmudic Judaism and Late Antique Christianity
This article explores several parallel teachings in rabbinic Judaism and late antique Christianity regarding redemptive almsgiving. First, the author calls attention to remarks made by Cyprian of Carthage and John Chrysostom that maintain almsgiving delivers from physical death, similar to the statements in the Babylonian Talmud known as the »tzedakah saves from death« sayings. In contrast to some earlier Christian sources, Cyprian and John viewed almsgiving as redemptive regardless of whether the recipient of alms prayed for his/her donors, and did not regard the poor as virtuous simply because of their poverty. Finally, the author maintains that Cyprian and John differed from their rabbinic contemporaries in their teaching that almsgiving was a remedy for sin.