Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, former president Jimmy Carter remarked that the “growing gap between the rich and poor” is the most elemental problem facing the world economy. But the gap between the rich and the poor is also a very old problem. Princeton historian Peter Brown takes up this issue of care for the poor as it was practiced in the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era
Alter’s book is important because it shows a keen listener in the act of listening. It demonstrates how one who already knows a great deal about the text is again surprised and led elsewhere by its detail. Alter invites his readers to listen with him, to hear more and other than already has been heard. Listening is a countercultural activity, an activity that leads to freedom, as Alter demonstrates.