Abstract / Description of output
The cultural persistence and political salience of the ‘un/deserving poor’ – the moral categorization of people in poverty – rests, inter alia, on the use of Christianity to construct a class-inflected position from which to judge or categorize the lives of others. Interpretation of the claim that the poor are ‘always with you’ (Matthew 26:11) plays a role in this process of asymmetrical moralization, specifically through the framing of ‘the poor’ as a class with divinely-mandated functions and virtues. To develop theological challenges to asymmetrical moralization, I examine patterns in contemporary and historical interpretation of the gospel accounts of the woman who anoints Jesus (the wider context of the claim that the poor are ‘always with you’). I propose that, while many interpreters attempt to use these texts to establish a position from which to judge both the woman and ‘the poor’, they can be reread in a way that undermines that construction.
Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)
- class and theology
- moralisation of poverty
- woman anointing Jesus
- undeserving poor