From the Editors

In the Summer Issue of Lapham’s Quarterly

Readers of HistPhil might be interested in the current issue of Lapham’s Quarterly. For those not familiar with the publication, it’s an offshoot of the “Readings” section of Harper’s Magazine, where Lewis Lapham reigned as the long-serving editor. Each Quarterly features a collection of readings, culled from historical sources, based around a particular theme, and this issue’s is “Philanthropy.” So there are excerpts from Cicero, Olivia Sage, Julius Rosenwald, Walt Whitman, Dwight MacDonald, and many others. Lapham also wrote a “Preamble” essay, tying the sources together, using as a unifying theme the move from Christian charity to secular philanthropy (spoiler alert: he sees this as something of a declension narrative). This relationship between charity and philanthropy is a theme that also intrigues HistPhil, and we plan to give significant attention to it in the months ahead. Along these same lines, also worth checking out in the Quarterly is an excerpt from Princeton historian Peter Brown’s new book, The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity, which provides important background for that shift, chronicling how Christian charity–focused on the poor, and egalitarian to the extent that it was a responsibility of all to take up–emerged out of a tradition of civic giving in the Roman world, which was predominantly the responsibility of the wealthy. We’ll have a review of this important new book sometime soon, but for those who can’t wait, the excerpt awaits.

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