Raymond F. COLLINS. Wealth, Wages, and the Wealthy: New Testament Insight for Preachers and Teachers. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2017. Pp. 347.  $34.95 pb. ISBN978-0-8146-8784-0. Reviewed by Nathan R. KOLLAR. St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY 14618.


Bible based religious education and sermons these days always seem to prioritize a negative critique of  contemporary sexual mores in passing on the Christian tradition. But the New Testament witnesses to a different set of priorities which are carefully enumerated and elucidated by Raymond Collins. The absence of a strong outcry in support of these priorities by Catholic people, prelates, and politicians is understandable in the light of how their politics has triumphed their religion.  What is not understandable is how the New Testament message is deliberately ignored under the rubric that economics is not God’s concern. Thankfully, Fr. Collins demonstrates in detail that wealth, wages, and the wealthy are very much a concern of Jesus and his disciples.

Collins moves through the entire New Testament taking each of the writings in historical sequence and context. Each relevant passage dealing with wealth, wages and the wealthy is highlighted, placed in context and reviewed in the light of the overall objective of the book. The points made in reviewing these passages are summed up in a concluding chapter “Concluding thoughts.” This concluding chapter provides a well-reasoned argument against those who preach the “Prosperity Gospel.” Simply put, these preachers write a new bible by chain texting from the Christian bible, then comment on what they have written, never telling us how much money they are making off their new bible. If we neglect the context of biblical quotes we neglect the bible as it is written and create our own.

The author also provides us with a bibliography of scriptural commentaries, bibliography, scripture index, and indexes of scripture, modern authors, classical Jewish and Patristic sources, and topics which provides any reader the tools for further scriptural study. For those of us who read the notes provided by an author, they are at the bottom of the page as footnotes –thanks!
The book concludes the following

  • The worldview of the N.T. was that this world’s goods existed in a finite, fixed amount.
  • God’s dominion is over all that exists, including people and their possessions.
  • Wealth is alluring – seductive. It easily becomes the overarching focus of peoples’ lives.
  • Greed, the seductive pursuit of wealth, is the vice most often condemned in the N.T. It is a form of idolatry and the source of untold evils. Having money is not condemned. It is how we use our money that is important
  • Wealth is to be used in the service of God and God’s people.
  • Responsibility for taking care of the poor falls not only on individuals but also on communities.
  • The norms for giving alms are: the alleviation of need and the establishment of equity among God’s people.
  • Just taxes are to be paid.
  • Wages are to be paid promptly and should be sufficient to provide adequate support for workers.
  • A disciple of Jesus must take care of the poor, always pay workers their due and never exploit the judicial system to get more than he/she deserves.
The New Testament is clear and consistent in all these matters. For more detail read this excellent book.