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Religion Theology

On Being Rich and Poor

Christianity in a Time of Economic Globalization

by (author) Jacques Ellul

edited and translated by Willem H. Vanderburg

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
May 2014
Theology, Ethics & Moral Philosophy, General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
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One of the most original thinkers of the twentieth century, Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) was a French law professor, sociologist, lay theologian, and self-described “Christian anarchist.” Collecting Ellul’s lectures on the Bible, On Being Rich and Poor contains his prescient meditations on some of the most important theological questions of the modern age. In this volume, a follow-up to the Ellul lectures collected in On Freedom, Love, and Power, Ellul asks how it is that Christianity can justify abandoning the poorest, weakest, and most vulnerable members of society, depriving the next generation of a liveable future, and participating in an unprecedented wave of environmental destruction.

In these talks, Ellul observes that some of the harshest language in the Jewish and Christian Bibles is reserved for those who are rich and powerful, and thus able to bend others to their will. Through his analysis of the prophetic vision of Amos and the epistle of James, Ellul exposes the gap between the principles of Christian life and the practices of the modern world. Critiquing a world that values domination over collaboration, he offers an alternative path.

Transcribed from the original recordings and translated by Willem H. Vanderburg, a student and long-time colleague of Ellul’s, On Being Rich and Poor is an unprecedented look at how one of the twentieth century’s foremost thinkers grappled with some of today’s most challenging issues.

About the authors

Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) was a professor at the University of Bordeaux, a social activist, and a prolific writer. His dedication to social and political action made him a known and respected figure in France, while his numerous books, which include Propaganda, The Subversion of Christianity, and The Political Illusion, attracted worldwide attention and helped to establish him as a key twentieth-century thinker.

Jacques Ellul's profile page

Willem H. Vanderburg is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, where he was the founding director of the Centre for Technology and Social Development. He was a NATO post-doctoral fellow under Jacques Ellul from 1973 to 1978 at the University of Bordeaux.

Willem H. Vanderburg's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘This is the second volume of a fascinating, fruitful project undertaken by Willem Vanderburg… It is certainly impressive, and among the many theological commentaries written by Ellul, one of the most winsome and accessible.’

European Journal of Theology, vol 26:02:2017

Other titles by Jacques Ellul

Other titles by Willem H. Vanderburg