The eye through which a camel must pass
February 27, 2014

The Eye of the Needle

The picture above, from an evangelical organization that promotes mission activities, shows a woman standing by what is supposed to be the needle through which the camel is supposed to pass.

Peter Brown has published a survey of the economic history of the Western Roman Empire in the period 350–550 ad. This is fine as far as it goes, but since he is focused entirely on the economic scene, and on attitudes towards money, it makes for rather dry reading, and I'm afraid that I prefer history with more of an emphasis on story than Brown provides.

One problem with the book is that Brown uses the Latin/Greek word when there is an English word or phrase available. For example, at one point he uses the phrase civic euergetism, which means doing good deeds. The word comes from the Greek εὐεργετέω and there is a Wikipedia article about it, but surely he could just as easily have used civic mindedness, or a similar phrase.

As I say, it is a fine book if you're doing research, or are a serious ſtudent of the period. The general reader with a moderate interest in the topic will probably not want to venture more than ahundred or so pages into the book before switching to something more diverting.

Next up, Condoleeza Rice's memoirs of her time in Washington.