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Hill Road Journal

Issue 52 (Dec 2023)

Contents: Poverty and Wealth
There are 6 thematic articles, 1 discussion article and 5 book reviews
No. of Pages: ix+214
Price: HK$100
Issue Editor's Page Please refer to the Chinese page
Thematic Articles
TAI Ho-Fai Nicholas Wealth and Poverty in the Old Testament (I): The Pentateuch and Narratives Abstract
CHAN Yew Ming Wealth and Poverty: Yahweh’s Demand for the Land Abstract
Bernard Leung Ancient and Modern Perceptions of Poverty, Subsistence and the Economic Location of the Pauline Communities Abstract
Solomon H. F. WONG Paul’s Reciprocity on the Poor and Richr Abstract
Joyce Wai-Lan SUN The Rich and the Poor Need Each Other: Illumination from Shepherd of Hermas Abstract
Vincent C. P. LAU Poverty, None of the Church’s Business … !?: Exploring the Theological and Ethical Significance of John Howard Yoder’s Discourse on the Practice of the Lord’s Supper Abstract
Discussion Article(s)
Elijah LIANG Yi Li Yah The Relationship between Christian Ethics and the Transformation of Life: A Study of the Role of the Holy Spirit and the Nature of Transformation Abstract
  • Issue Editor's Page

    Andres Tang

    貧富不均是一個全球性的社會現象,不單現今世代如此,古代的舊約及新約世界也是一樣。因此,本期《山道期刊》以「貧與富」為主題,邀請不同學者撰文討論,範圍包括舊約、新約、早期教會、基督教倫理等不同領域。

    戴浩輝的〈舊約中的貧與富(一):五經與敍事文體〉分析五經中的律法,從而表明貧富是當時的事實。可是,律法卻沒有要求消滅貧窮,而是要求耶和華的子民承擔起照顧貧窮人的責任。此文指出,財富是上帝賜福的象徵,但以色列人的故事並非關乎財富,而是關乎上帝的應許和護佑。再者,財富只是上帝的禮物,而人致富的經過並非必然光彩。陳耀明的〈財富與貧窮:耶和華對土地的要求〉則把貧富問題的焦點放在古代以色列如何對待土地的態度上。身為與上帝立約的子民,他們要視土地為耶和華賜贈的禮物,不可以像鄰國那樣把土地變成崇拜的偶像。可是以色列人卻走上歧路,骨子裏拒絕耶和華的主權,破壞了上帝與人之間的關係。這種情況的具體表現就是他們沒有遵守律法,好好管理大地,結果造成社會貧富懸殊,且被無數先知批評,要求以色列人承認財富是上帝的禮物,且更要好好照顧他們當中的貧窮人。

    梁俊豪的〈從古今觀點看貧窮、僅足生存與保羅群體的經濟地位〉和黃漢輝的〈保羅的貧富互惠逆轉思維〉都與保羅研究有關。前者關心的是如何理解保羅群體的經濟情況,後者側重保羅對貧富的看法。梁俊豪指出現代學者對希羅社會的經濟狀況和財富分配不均的研究,對分析保羅群體的貧窮狀況甚有幫助,而討論的焦點集中在:(1)希羅社會的階層結構屬「二分結構」(「舊共識」,即精英與非精英)、「三分結構」(即精英與非精英之間存在「中間階層」),還是貧富程度在人口分佈中是逐漸變化(「新共識」)?(2)保羅、信徒領袖及信仰群體是包含了社會的各個階層,能代表希羅社會的階層結構(「新共識」),還是成員都集中在貧窮階層(「舊共識」)?(3)現代社會關於財富分配不均的研究,如何應用於希羅社會以至保羅群體?把非精英階層按「僅足生存」開支的倍數來建構六等分的經濟水平階梯,是否比按職業和身分標籤劃分的「貧窮 / 經濟尺度」,更有效地描述希羅社會貧窮人口的分佈?黃漢輝的文章,則分析保羅在馬其頓及亞該亞教會為耶路撒冷教會收集捐款的事情,從而探討保羅所抱持的一種貧富「互惠」思維。他首先以保羅在羅馬書十五章22至29節提及收集捐款一事為起點,然後分別觸及哥林多書信(林前十六1-4;林後八~九)和加拉太書(二10);最後回到羅馬書,探討保羅在羅馬書十五章22至29節提出的捐款收集其背後的「互惠」思維。保羅沒有在傳道的過程中解決社會的貧富問題,但因著「在基督裏」,教會群體可以超越不同的界限,當中的信徒可以彼此互惠;在上帝那傾流的豐富恩典下,有餘的可以補不足的,以致不會有人缺乏,或有人過剩。

    辛惠蘭的〈貧與富相依:《黑馬牧人書》的啟迪〉,探討第二世紀使徒教父著作《黑馬牧人書》第五十一章的第二比喻,藉此了解教會中的富人和窮人應有的關係;就是使用「榆樹」和「葡萄樹」的共生關係,來類比他們的關係,從而說明兩者也是相互依存協作的。這種看法可以視為承襲了聖經傳統中「敬虔貧窮人」和「邪惡富有人」的部分看法,並採納當代羅馬的恩主(patronage)文化而有所發展,避免將「貧」、「富」置放在矛盾對立的兩極,反而探索雙方如何運用各自的強項和獨有的(物質 / 屬靈)資源,互補相依,彼此成全,一起結出最多的果子。劉振鵬的〈教會,貧窮與你何干……!?——闡釋尤達的主餐踐行之神學及倫理意義〉,旨在探索神學家尤達(John H. Yoder)對主餐的看法,從而指出其倫理意涵在於基督徒的關顧和慈愛,這不應只局限於對待自己人,也當延伸至外人身上,且不應只關心本地的需要,也當注意鄰國的困難。本文首先簡介尤達的《身體政治》(Body Politics),繼而討論尤達講述的主餐的意涵,跟著分析主餐、禧年、彌賽亞三者的關係,最後仔細檢視主餐的倫理意涵。

    本期的討論文章有梁以利亞的〈基督教倫理與生命更新之關係:探討聖靈的角色和更新的本質〉。此文討論聖靈在基督教倫理及生命更新上有甚麼重要性,以及新生命的本質,並提出倫理應用上實質的建議。至於本期的書評,評述的著作涵蓋多個領域,既包括聖經神學、早期教會歷史,也涉及釋經方法、宣教神學、系統神學等各方面。透過評論者對他人研究成果的考察,我們不單可以從中知道知識前沿的發展,也可以在他人的基礎上再行思考相關課題,有所進深。

  • Wealth and Poverty in the Old Testament (I): The Pentateuch and Narratives

    TAI Ho-fai Nicholas

    Discussing the issue of wealth and poverty in the Old Testament is a broad and profound task. It can be examined in various contexts such as Old Testament ethics and social history. In addition, the long history of the Old Testament Israel increases the difficulty, and how we understand the formation history of the Old Testament itself also affects how we approach this topic. Therefore, the article will only give a brief overview of the concepts of wealth and poverty in the Pentateuch. The usage of Hebrew words for wealth and poverty in the Pentateuch will be analyzed so as to see how these concepts function in their respective contexts.

    From the perspective of the laws in the Pentateuch, poverty is a reality. The laws do not demand the elimination of it, but as the people of Yahweh (free Israelites), Israel is obliged to care for the poor. On the other hand, based on the stories of the patriarchs, several points about the concept of wealth can be established: First, wealth is a symbol of God's blessing. Second, the stories are not about wealth but God's promises and His providence. Third, the patriarchs all realized that wealth was a gift from God. Finally, the process of getting rich is not necessarily a glorious one. Many times, they were in difficult situations, but with the protection and blessing of God, their difficulties were turned into blessings.

  • Wealth and Poverty: Yahweh's Demand for the Land

    CHAN Yew Ming

    Ancient Israel received land from Yahweh who established a covenant with them. Yahweh expected Israel to understand that the land is a unique gift that requires Israelites to manage the land and avoid the pitfalls of their neighbors. Unfortunately, these Israelites failed to comprehend the nature of the gift and instead opted for the institutionalization of their society and fell into idolatry. Their mismanagement of the land revealed a rejection of Yahweh's sovereignty that led to a breakdown in the divine-human relationship. Yahweh's specific demands were established via the Law, and numerous prophets reminded Israel to meet them. Israel's failure to keep the Law and its mismanagement of the land produced a society that requires tackling the divide between the affluent and the poor. The Old Testament acknowledges that wealth is a gift but reminds us that the poor must be taken care of and fairly treated.

  • Ancient and Modern Perceptions of Poverty, Subsistence and the Economic Location of the Pauline Communities

    LEUNG Chun Ho Bernard

    This paper explores the perceptions of poverty in Graeco-Roman society and the modern world, along with their implications for evaluating the economic circumstances of the Pauline communities. The initial sections of this study aim to elucidate the challenges associated with defining and perceiving poverty in scholarly debates. Given that poverty is a universally subjective human experience, describing and comparing the situation of “the poor” becomes a difficult, if not impossible, task. To analyze the limited and occasionally distorted data on the economic conditions of the ancient world, researchers require contemporary categories, languages, and research methods. Once the methodological issues have been clarified, this paper will provide an overview of the recent discussion about the economic situation of the Pauline communities, emphasizing the problem surrounding the utilization of the concept of “subsistence” in these discussions.

  • Paul's Reciprocity on the Poor and Rich

    Solomon HF WONG

    At the end of the letter to the Romans, Paul says that he will come to visit Rome after he has delivered to Jerusalem the collection raised from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia. Paul also mentioned this collection in the Corinthian correspondence and Galatians. of donations for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem seems to have become significantly important for Paul's ministry. Why is this collection important to Paul's ministry and why is this also related to his planned visit to Rome in the near future? The grace of God in Christ (Christ event) and human actions seem to play a reciprocal role in this nascent eschatological community. This paper is an attempt to trace the reciprocity thinking of Paul on the collection regarding the relationship between the rich and poor on the one hand, and between the gentile believers and Jewish believers on the other. We begin our exegetical journey with Romans 15:22-29; then, we lightly touch on 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 8-9, and Galatians 2:10; and Finally, we come back to Romans 15:22-29 for a glimpse of Paul's aim of writing Romans.

  • The Rich and the Poor Need Each Other: Illumination from Shepherd of Hermas

    Joyce Wai-Lan SUN

    To many Christians, almsgiving and caring for the poor are biblical requirements and thus, natural responsibilities for every Christ follower. In the course of giving and receiving, however, those in need are often reduced to mere passive receivers who must look upon the sheer mercy of those who have. The poor are generally regarded as having nothing to give in return so any act of mercy can hardly serve to shorten the social distance between the rich and the poor.

    This essay looks into the model of almsgiving envisioned in the Parable of the Elm and the Vine in the Shepherd of Hermas (chapter 51) and demonstrates how Hermas postulates the relationship between the rich and the poor as one of mutual interdependence and partnership in the works of God. It then contrasts Hermas's vision of the rich-poor relationship with that portrayed in the biblical tradition of “the pious poor” and “the wicked rich,” and the Roman culture of patronage. The essay concludes that the model of mutual interdependence advocated in the Shepherd of Hermas deserves to be given more thought by the churches in Hong Kong, in which membership including both the rich and the poor is even more commonplace now than in ancient times.

  • Poverty, None of the Church's Business … !?: Exploring the Theological and Ethical Significance of John Howard Yoder's Discourse on the Practice of the Lord's Supper

    Vincent CP LAU

    The discourse on the Lord's Supper by John Howard Yoder in his Body Politics specifies that both spiritual and ethical significance is indispensable. The latter pertains to the sociological implications of the practice that Jesus' disciples are required to share their possessions with others who are in need . This is an embodiment of Yahweh's order of Jubilee: “there should not be any poor among you …” (Dt 15:4 NET). Such kind of sharing and provision of basic daily needs with one another is a mark of the messianic age . The ethical significance of the Lord's Supper is that the church is called to pay close attention to and provide relief for the needy people as a matter of course. There is thus no excuse for the church to ignore the needs of people around us. The care and love of Christians should not be confined to “insiders,” but also include “outsiders,” not only locally focused but also internationally concerned. The Jubilee 2000 Campaign and the Jubilee Debt Campaign can be regarded as an embodiment of the Christian faith. More importantly, it can serve as an alternative paradigm for global economic practice.
    The purposes of this essay are to explore the theological and sociological connotations of the Lord's Supper of Yoder's discourse in his book and to explicate the ethical significance of the church derived from the Lord's Supper on the issue of poverty and the actions of poverty alleviation. The essay consists of four parts: Firstly, the theological concepts of Body Politics are introduced briefly. Secondly, the discourse on and the significance of the Lord's Supper discussed by Yoder are examined. Thirdly, the theological conceptual relationship among the Lord's Supper, Jubilee, and messiah is analyzed. Finally, the ethical significance of the Lord's Supper is scrutinized.

  • The Relationship between Christian Ethics and the Transformation of Life: A Study of the Role of the Holy Spirit and the Nature of Transformation

    Elijah LIANG Yi Li Yah

    Since Thomas Aquinas, Christian ethics and virtue ethics have been closely intertwined. In recent discussions, some scholars have even equated Christian ethics with virtue ethics. However, while Christian ethics embodies virtuous qualities, it should not be limited to virtue or theological virtue, as a Christian's life begins with being crucified and resurrected with Christ, resulting in a new life. Therefore, to truly understand Christian ethics, it is essential to clarify the relationship between this new life and ethics. Otherwise, Christian ethics might devolve into humanistic ethics or become a self-help spiritual growth. This article explores the views of three scholars who emphasize the significance of the Holy Spirit in Christian ethics and delve into anthropology to explore the nature of human transformation and how it relates to being crucified and resurrected with Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of life, this article also explores the concepts of human creation, fall, and Paul's discourse on new life in Romans and Galatians from this perspective. Finally, based On our research findings, this article offers substantial ethical application recommendations.

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