“Neither Poverty Nor Riches” by C. Blomberg (A Review)

Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (New Studies in Biblical Theology) I’ve mentioned this resource before: Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions by Craig Blomberg.  Now that I’m finished with it, I’d like to give a brief review for those interested in a helpful book on what the Bible says about money and possessions.

The structure of this book is pretty straightforward.  After some introductory material, Blomberg takes a walk through the OT to see what the various books and genres say about money and possessions.  Blomberg starts in Genesis, makes his way through the Pentateuch and the history books, then he spends some time in the wisdom, poetry, and prophetic literature.  He also includes a discussion on the Jewish literature between the Testaments.  In the final parts of the book Blomberg summarizes the NT teaching on money and possessions (from the Gospels to Paul’s writing to the rest of the NT).  At the end there’s a short summary/conclusions chapter.  Sadly, there is no Scripture index.

I have to admit, sometimes books like this can get a bit dry for me since they are simply summarizing a single theme of Scripture in an academic way.  There were a few parts in this book that slowed down for me, but most of it held my attention quite well.  I really appreciated how Blomberg picked up a lot of Scripture’s different nuances about money and possessions.

I’ve been thinking about the topics of wealth, stewardship, possessions, and discipleship since I’ve also been preaching through Luke’s gospel, so I was glad to get a Bible survey of these themes.  I knew the Bible said a lot about money and possessions before I read the book, but having read it these themes have been opened up to me even more.  This book – which summarizes Scripture’s teaching – has really made me think about how I view and use money/possessions.  In fact, I’ve made some financial changes in my own life after reading this book and thinking about Jesus’ teaching about stewardship and wealth in Luke’s Gospel.

[As a side, the term “biblical theology” in the title isn’t exactly the “biblical theology” of, say, Geerhardus Vos.  The term applied to this book means something closer to “a Bible survey of the topics of money and possessions.”]

Neither Poverty nor Riches is academic to some extent, so it may not be for every layperson; you probably don’t want to hand it to just anyone who needs a resource on stewardship, wealth, and possessions.  However, if you want a good, thorough study of the Bible’s teaching about these things, and if you are prepared to really study, I’d say: “Get this one for sure!”  Not only is it level-headed biblical scholarship, it also has some practical application throughout to help Christians think biblically about money and possessions.

Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Possessions (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999).

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI