Peter Brown has just retired from an extraordinarily distinguished career that took him from Oxford to Princeton via London and Berkeley. A defining voice in late antique studies, he is one of the chief reasons that the field has been flourishing in recent years. When a writer of this stature produces a major new work, there’s always the possibility that anticipation might outstrip achievement, but Through the Eye of a Needle displays Brown at his very best.
In it, Brown examines the dynamic intersection between one central strand of the Christian Gospels and a long-established norm of Greco-Roman society. Christ famously states at Matthew 19:21–26 that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than