The Generosity Monk is committed to serving the Church by providing spiritual and strategic guidance to help people understand and practice biblical generosity.
By 2007 Hoag’s survey of literature revealed that the interpretive debate linked to reading texts in 1 Timothy with riches in view swirled around difficulty in reading rare language. Towner advised Hoag to spend time with Abraham Malherbe at Yale, a professor emeritus who had unlocked medical and other imagery of Paul. Malherbe agreed to meet with Hoag and provided priceless advice: “Don’t search ancient material! Read it and you will find that which you seek.”
Over the next two years, Hoag mined extant literary, numismatic, and epigraphic evidence liked to Ephesus in the first century CE. In so doing, he came across a story, Ephesiaca, ascribed to Xenophon of Ephesus. Though this story was uncovered almost three hundred years earlier, until recently it was dated to the second or third century CE and largely ignored by New Testament scholars.
In 2010 Hoag submitted 15,000 words and an outline for his Ph.D. dissertation for his upgrade viva. He essentially put forth that Ephesiaca could aid scholars in reading the rare terms and themes in 1 Timothy where riches are in view. Andrew Clarke and Robert Dutch served as his examiners. After successfully defending his argument, he would work toward writing his thesis.
In 2011 Hoag wrote the majority of his dissertation and spent all of 2012 editing and refining his argument. In 2013 he submitted his 80,000 word dissertation: “The Teachings on Riches in 1 Timothy in light of Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus.” His final viva examiners were Larry Kreitzer of Oxford and David Wenham of Trinity College Bristol. He successfully defended his dissertation.
In 2015, the Institute for Biblical Research in cooperation with Eisenbrauns published this groundbreaking research in the BBRS supplement series (BBRS 11) under the title, Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and the First Letter to Timothy.
Scholars are divided in their views about the teachings on riches in 1 Timothy. Evidence that has been largely overlooked in NT scholarship appears in Ephesiaca by Xenophon of Ephesus and suggests that the topic be revisited. Recently dated to the mid first century CE, Ephesiaca brings to life what is known from ancient sources about the social setting and cultural rules of the wealthy in Ephesus and provides details that enhance our knowledge of life and society in that place and time.
In this volume, Hoag introduces Ephesiaca and employs a socio-rhetorical methodology to explore it alongside other ancient evidence and five passages in 1 Timothy (2:9–15; 3:1–13; 6:1–2a; 6:2b–10; and 6:17–19). His findings augment our modern conception of the Sitz im Leben of the wealthy in Ephesus. Additionally, because Ephesiaca contains some rare terms and themes that are found in 1 Timothy, this groundbreaking research offers fresh insight for biblical reading and interpretation.
Even as Sarah (the wife of Abraham in Genesis) laughed when told she would be a mother, Gary laughed, so did his wife, Jenni, and two children, Sammy and Sophie. The label stuck, and would become both his preferred title, and the name of his LLC. Generosity Monk simply reflects Gary’s commitment to dedicate his life to encouraging Christian generosity in a day when few remain committed to anything.
Knowing that monks follow a rhythm, a daily office, Gary inquired of the Lord as to what that should look like for him. It was clear he should spend time daily in God’s word and also in reading what saints through the centuries have said about understanding biblical stewardship and encouraging Christian generosity. He felt led to share freely each morning a “meditation” from this time of study.
In the days that followed, his rule of life became clear. He would endeavor to live out the red letters of Jesus, regardless of the cost to him and his family and despite what the church or the broader culture considered good stewardship or generous living. He finds joy in serving the receptive, and as often is possible, does so at no cost; however, as the worker deserves a wage, sometimes he requests fees for services.
People ask him lots of questions, such as: Do you wear a robe? Do you live in a monastery? Why do you wear a clerical collar sometimes? Only in very formal situations does Gary wears his robe. It is the robe in which he was ordained as a minister. He likes that it’s white because he says it’s been washed by Jesus’ blood.
Gary does not live in a monastery, but sees his home as a sanctuary, thanks largely to his wife, Jenni, who is a spiritual director. She works diligently to make their home a peaceful place where God’s presence is felt by all who enter, where the hurting find hope, and where most noise is silenced to help them hear God’s voice clearly.
Gary spends about a quarter of his time serving pastors, another quarter in teaching roles, a quarter in writing and speaking, and the other quarter in solitude at his sanctuary. He enjoys daily walks with Jenni and their German Shorthair Pointer, Joy St. Clare, of course named after Clare, the companion to St. Francis of Assisi. With Sammy he loves to go fly fishing and pheasant hunting and cherishes coffee dates with Sophie.