Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2010 Volume 6 :: Article 8
2010 Volume 6, Article 8
Explaining Early Christian Charity: A Psychosocial Theories Approach

Author: Daniel Kim (University of Chicago)

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ABSTRACT

The charitable practices of the Christians before Constantine‘s conversion were exemplary. But the question of how the Christians sustained their charitable practices has seldom been explored. This article provides a sense of the sacrificial character and significant scale of their charity and then employs psychosocial theories to provide a scientific explanation for its success. It argues that the early Christians‘ charitable practices depended on their group norms of charity; on a social context that helped to set Christians apart, thereby enabling the norms to shape behaviors; and on church leaders who embodied sacrificial charity in word and deed, thereby shaping and sustaining charity as a group norm.

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